Experience Design exists where edges converge. It is a transdisciplinary approach that integrates worldviews, storytelling, interaction, and materiality for the facilitation of multi-sensory experiences. Experience Design synthesizes psychological, communication, and systems theory, primary and secondary design research, and making that result in screen-based, physical, and service design outcomes. In an approach where such seemingly disparate qualities intersect, it stands to reason that the shape of distance-learning graduate study in experience design also challenges notions of traditional learning.
This paper shares details about our distance-learning experience design MFA program at a North American university, developed and launched between 2016 and 2018. This program’s features are specifically designed to foster belonging and attachment between learners and provoke them to investigate diverse experiences not possible in conventional studio settings. Attendees will learn about edge effects sparked by a combination of meeting formats integrated into the program like face-to-face on-campus workshops, online coursework, unstructured virtual studio hangouts, and travel to different locations around the United States for in-context research and regionally-inspired topical workshops. Grading formats and rubrics will be shared including a Multiple Intelligences Model for Design Education and experience points (XP’s) that reward learners for investigating uncommon experience design contexts. The paper shares how rituals like ceremonies and commemorative tokens are integrated into the program to encourage meaning-making, a sense of accomplishment, and recognition of learners’ value as integral participants. Collaborative projects will be shared to demonstrate how coursework has been specifically developed to encourage learner-to-learner connections despite distances, celebrating differences as opportunities for enhanced learning.
The presentation will be part recipe, part progress report, and part provocation. While the paper will share ways disciplines have been transcended, how concepts of spaces for learning have been challenged, and the effects of graduate-level distance learning on faculty and students, its goal is to inspire discussion. Attendees will consider the edges of micro and macro experience design for facilitating learning beyond conventional outcomes and contexts. We will discuss what ranges of experiences could be integrated into design curriculum to encourage learners to explore design outcome-experiencer interactions. Attendees will take away new knowledge and directions for rethinking how they facilitate learning with a multi-sensory, experiential perspective.