LBES Project Overview

The Information systems theory for location-based educational services in informal learning environments project (LBES, or Location-based Educational Services) was first proposed in 2011. The Australian Research Council granted the partner organisations in the project – the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, the National Capital Educational Tourism Project, the National Portrait Gallery of Australia and Questacon – a linkage grant in 2012 (Australian Research Council Linkage Projects Grant ID: LP120200818 [2012 - 2015]). The project began in July 2013 once the multi-institutional agreement between the project partners was finalised.

At the time the project was proposed, there was little theory development to guide the application of location-based technologies (LBT) in informal learning environments. LBTs were limited to Global Positioning Systems (GPS), which works reliably only outdoors, and mobile phone tower and WiFi triangulation, which are unreliable and inaccurate . Mobile devices were already ubiquitous and deeply embedded in the daily lives of young people, and the portability and functionality of these devices offered new opportunities for enriching learning.


Amaroo School students trialling LBES prototype

The Proposal

We proposed to:

  1. Develop an Information Systems (IS) design theory for the application of location-based technologies in support of educational services in an informal learning environment.
  2. Pioneer the use of advanced combinatorial methods to improve the construction of pattern languages, and the use of such languages for specifying near-optimal design solutions.
  3.  Instantiate the resulting IS design theory within the Australian cultural sector to better understand how location-based technologies can enhance the learning experiences of school children.

The findings would inform policy and the future use of LBT for education.


The project would be successful if the institutions involved took up the solutions developed and internalized the processes exposed during the term of the project. More importantly, greater success would be represented if other institutions were convinced to use the processes defined by the theory in the development of educational services for their own institutions. Both the National Portrait Gallery of Australia and Questacon have embraced the solutions developed during the project, so the project has been a success from the point of view of the partner organisations. Whether other institutions will take up the processes is yet to be seen, and will depend on successful dissemination of the ideas developed.

Partnerships with the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, Questacon, Amaroo School, Stripy Sock and Lightning Rock have all resulted in positive experiences for them that give them insights into better ways to design interactions with their customers using practical applications of theory-based techniques.

Early LBES prototype screen

Rapid app prototyping


Other successful outcomes of the project include the development and refinement of several instruments to help institutions work with stakeholders to surface solutions to the issues facing them (or just to surface the issues!). These instruments include design thinking templates, a software requirements specification canvas, and extensions to pattern language used to enhance software development.

In collaboration with Amaroo school, refined the dSchool materials for design thinking. These materials have now gone through several iterations and have been demonstrated to facilitate design with school children: something not evident elsewhere.

Templates used in our workshops for Design Thinking, the Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition design, and the Software Requirements canvas can be downloaded from the Resources page. These resources are available for use under Creative Commons Attribution Share alike Non-commercial licence (BY-NC-SA).

Two conference papers written about the project can also be downloaded from the Resources page.