Yue Yuan

MFA Thesis

Exploring engaging visual art learning experience



Below you can see first 3 months of my thesis' project. Since the final presentation will be in May, I hope this 'work in progress' overview will give you some insights into my design process. 




How to create the visual art learning experience for kids that engages them for long-term practice and learning through playing?





My thesis project ’Artventure’ is a learning platform for kids that uses a combination of traditional visual art learning activities with an augmented reality technology. It encourages kids to practice visual art skills, meanwhile having fun and developing their creativity. Kids can directly use their drawings in the game to influence the virtual characters and their story. It provides both intrinsic and extrinsic engagement, leading to learning through play.

Duration and time: The project was conducted at Umea Institute of Design from Jan 2018 for 20 weeks


Initial Research

Interviews/ Workshops/ Participatory Observations


To understand the current visual art education and kid’s engagement in the visual art context, I set up a series of research trips combined with the observations and contextual inquiries. The research was conducted in both China and Sweden




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For my initial research, I interviewed over 17 people consisting of parents, visual art teachers, and experts.  It helped me to better understand the current visual art education and the way parents and teachers are trying to engage kids in the educational context.


Indepth interviews for concrete stories




I participated in 2 art workshops in Sweden and visited 2 different extra art schools in China. At there, I played a role as a teacher to create art together with kids. It helped me to understand the interaction between adults and kids and the interaction between the kids and their activities. 


Being in the classroom and playing the role as a teacher



Trying existing game with kids





Creativity vs Technical skills

When kids start to learn technical skills, there are more limitations and it is not as fun as before. There is a gap between creative classes and technical skill learning.


The ‘critical time’

Around 10 years old, kids start to be more critical of their artwork. They want to achieve realism and have higher expectations of their work than their younger peers.




Workshop with Kids/ Co-creation with Educators/ Probes



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Kids Workshop

The workshop's focus was on exploring how kids perceive and engage with different mediums to do arts and to learn and what tactics can be used to create the engagement that could encourage kids to be more focus and motivated.

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Stake-holders Workshop

In the stakeholder's workshop, the participants were asked to brainstorm on three design questions, in which they were given a persona or tactics to explore the possible concepts and scenarios.





Based on the ideas from the workshops, I build the probes to communicate the early concepts. After that, 3 in-depth co-creation interviews were conducted. The aim of the interviews was to get the educators’ insights on whether the design can be useful in teaching and the engagement could encourage kids to draw more often.


Prototype and User Test

Functional Prototypes/ User Testing

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The prototypes are based on the learning model: theory- practice- reflection,  and started from the experience of the single classes. There are three different aspects for achieving three different learning goals in the prototypes.





In the prototype, I was trying to explore how we could make the theory learning more interactive. Children are no longer just sitting and listening, they could also explore the theory even play with the theory by themselves.


Prototype for learning how to draw the movement

Prototype for learning the differences between squares and cubes





The design is trying to keep the traditional physical drawing, children get the mission while they are playing the game, but to finish the mission, they would need to draw on the paper and would use what they draw to influence the game by using the AR experience.


AR experiences to engage kids to draw a cube


Using the artworks to influence the narrative





All the kids show strong interest in this new format of learning and get very intrigued by the magical 3D content that they explore. What they love most is that they can interact with the game by the magical card and they can use their artworks to influence the story. Merging virtual and reality(AR experience) excites kids and engage them to draw on the paper. 


I will be keep updating this page, but I can't wait to show you the final concept I'm working on now...