From Memorable to Transformative E-Learning Experiences: Theory and Practice of Experience Design

From Memorable to Transformative E-Learning Experiences: Theory and Practice of Experience Design

Pearl Chen (California State University, Los Angeles, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-788-1.ch024
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This chapter reviews the current state of theory and practice of experience design and suggests that the notion of experience should be regarded as an essential and unifying theme in guiding a broader perspective of design and study of e-learning. Underlying this chapter is a view that suggests a shift from designing learning environments to “staging” learning experiences. By looking at learning through the prism of experience design, we may begin to discover ways to create compelling, memorable, and transformative e-learning experiences. Some existing models and effective practices in education are considered as viable models for adapting experience design to e-learning contexts. Furthermore, this chapter identifies some converging areas of research from the fields of experience design and education, so as not to reinvent the wheel but to expand our knowledge on designing quality e-learning experiences that are engaging and valued by people.
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In 1999, in an article entitled “Online Education as Interactive Experience: Some Guiding Models,” Hilary McLellan asked an important question that should be carefully considered by educators: “All aspects of education are imbued with a high potential for remembrance and nostalgia. But how does this experience change as the experience shifts more and more from a physical location to cyberspace?” (p. 36). In the article, McLellan discussed some guiding models and concepts for creating engaging and memorable online learning experiences: experience economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1999), digital storytelling, social presence, and personal space and affordances. Of particular significance is Pine and Gilmore’s experience economy model that encompasses four realms of experience design: (1) esthetic – design that provides an inviting, interesting, and comfortable environment, (2) escapist – design that focuses on immersive, highly participatory activities, (3) educational – design that promotes active learning and exploration, and (4) entertainment – design that allows fun and enjoyment for sustaining learner attention and motivation. The four experience realms have important implications for e-learning design. In a later article, McLellan (2002) elaborated on using experience design as a framework for designing learning experiences in general. “Experience design is an emerging multidisciplinary approach to design that has important implications for the design of instruction. Experience design is actually an ancient practice, going back to the earliest human impulse to develop rituals, ceremonies, drama, and even architecture. But the design of experiences has become much more pervasive during the past century, with media, including radio, television, and interactive electronic media, playing a central role” (McLellan, 2002, p. 30). Examples of applying experience design in education include museum exhibits, case studies, and simulations that focus on highly interactive and participatory learning experiences.

Now, almost a decade after McLellan’s 1991 article, how has e-learning evolved in terms of experience design? As e-learning is becoming a popular form of learning and training both in corporate and academic settings, many authors have contributed to the discussion of relevant topics. This chapter is an attempt to review the current state of theory and practice of experience design related to e-learning developments. It suggests that the concept of experience should be regarded as an essential and unifying theme in guiding the design and study of e-learning. It then considers some existing models and effective practices in education, including project-based learning (PBL), knowledge building, visual thinking, and cognitive apprenticeship, for creating highly participatory e-learning experiences that are not only memorable but also transformative. The main aims of this chapter are to:

  • 1.

    Review current state of theory and practice of experience design related to e-learning developments;

  • 2.

    Explore existing models and effective practices in education as viable models for adapting experience design to e-learning contexts;

  • 3.

    Identify converging areas of research from the education and experience design fields and suggest directions for future research and development.


Experience Design

The major thrust of the work of Pine and Gilmore is that experience is a new type of economic offering that is distinct from the previous Service Economy. “When a person buys a service, he purchases a set of intangible activities carried out on his behalf. But when he buys an experience, he pays to spend time enjoying a series of memorable events that a company stages ─ as in a theatrical play ─ to engage him in a personal way” (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p. 2). Pine and Gilmore regard every business as a stage where the buyers of experiences should be treated as guests and the company that engages its guests over a duration of time is comparable to the role of an experience stager. They define experiences as “events that engage individuals in a personal way” (p. 12) that could be on various levels: emotional, physical, intellectual, or even spiritual.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Project-Based Learning (PBL): A teaching approach that engages learners in collaborative research, construction, and presentation of digital or physical artifacts over an extended period of time.

Cognitive PBL: A specific type of project-based learning that engages learners in mindful and deliberative use of explicit cognitive strategies and the exercise of self-regulatory and judgment skills.

Online social presence: A sense of psychological closeness between people in online communications.

Knowledge Building: A process of producing and improving ideas of value to a community of learners through working on an external artifact or a communal database in which collective discussion and syntheses of ideas are made visible through this artifact.

Milestone artifact: A form of collaborative representation that instantiates group members’ developing knowledge in digital or physical artifacts.

Transformative experience: A carefully guided, elicited, and sustained experience that affects and changes everyone involved.

Visual thinking: A process of creating a mental image of one’s thinking or the ability to conceptualize and represent thoughts, ideas, and data as patterns, structures, or images.

Experience Design: A design approach that integrates concepts from a number of fields (e.g., drama, psychology, human-computer interaction, multimedia design, economics, architecture) to create engaging and successful experiences for people in any environment.

Escapist design: Design that encourages active participation through engaging people in immersive activities.

Esthetic design: Design that provides an inviting, interesting, and comfortable environment for people in any medium.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Harrison Hao Yang, Steve Chi-Yin Yuen
Harrison Hao Yang, Steve Chi-Yin Yuen
Chapter 1
Chien Yu, Wei-Chieh Wayne Yu, Chun Fu Lin
Dramatic changes in information and communication technologies (ICTs) provide a powerful force forthe growth of e-learning. E-learning has become... Sample PDF
Computer-Mediated Learning: What Have We Experienced and Where Do We Go Next?
Chapter 2
Clara Pereira Coutinho, João Batista Bottentuit Jr.
In this chapter the authors analyze issues and ideas regarding the next generation of e-Learning, which is already known as e-Learning 2.0 or social... Sample PDF
From Web to Web 2.0 and E-Learning 2.0
Chapter 3
Chaka Chaka
This chapter contends that both Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web (the SW) serve as critical enablers for e-learning 2.0. It also maintains that the SW... Sample PDF
E-Learning 2.0: Web 2.0, the Semantic Web and the Power of Collective Intelligence
Chapter 4
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The Key Elements of Online Learning Communities
Chapter 5
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This chapter reviews the characteristics of learners of different generations. In particular, it compares their differences in terms of learning... Sample PDF
Generational Learners & E-Learning Technologies
Chapter 6
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The relationship between the Digital or Millennium Generation and Web 2.0 is investigated focusing on how post-secondary students just entering... Sample PDF
The Digital Generation and Web 2.0: E-Learning Concern or Media Myth?
Chapter 7
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Adult Learners, E-Learning, and Success: Critical Issues and Challenges in an Adult Hybrid Distance Learning Program
Chapter 8
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Online Interaction Styles: Adapting to Active Interaction Styles
Chapter 9
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Learner satisfaction and learning is currently a very important topic in online instruction and learning. Blignaut and Trollip (2003) proposed six... Sample PDF
Strategies for Providing Formative Feedback to Maximize Learner Satisfaction and Online Learning
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Exploring Ideas and Possibilities of Second Life as an Advanced E-Learning Environment
Chapter 11
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When Virtual Communities Click: Transforming Teacher Practice, Transforming Teachers
Chapter 12
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The Impact of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to the Greek Educational Community
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Faculty Use and Perceptions of Web 2.0 in Higher Education
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Librarian as Collaborator: Bringing E-Learning 2.0 Into the Classroom by Way of the Library
Chapter 17
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Implementing E-Learning in University 2.0: Are Universities Ready for the Digital Age?
Chapter 18
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New Literacies in New Times: A Multimodal Approach to Literacy Learning
Chapter 19
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Transforming Continuing Healthcare Education with E-Learning 2.0
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Mode Neutral: The Pedagogy that Bridges Web 2.0 and e-Learning 2.0
Chapter 21
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Dispatches from the Graduate Classroom: Bringing Theory and Practice to E-Learning
Chapter 22
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Student-Centered Teaching with Constructionist Technology Tools: Preparing 21st Century Teachers
Chapter 23
Clara Pereira Coutinho
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Challenges for Teacher Education in the Learning Society: Case Studies of Promising Practice
Chapter 24
Pearl Chen
This chapter reviews the current state of theory and practice of experience design and suggests that the notion of experience should be regarded as... Sample PDF
From Memorable to Transformative E-Learning Experiences: Theory and Practice of Experience Design
Chapter 25
Carl Scott, Youmei Liu, Madhuri Kumar
This chapter will examine the relationship between a constructivist teaching approach and online learning experiences in the Virtual Worlds of... Sample PDF
Authentic Learning in Second Life: A Constructivist Model in Course Design
Chapter 26
C. Candace Chou
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Finding Information: Factors that Improve Online Experiences
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