No, my goal is not to channel the entire spirit of Peter Merholz into the education realm, but his stuff is a gold mine of connections, and I keep coming back to this one post. Experience Economics has a wonderful pyramid chart showing how people experience different types of birthday parties, starting with the commodity (birthday cake ingredients) and working all the way up to something transforming (birthday at Disney World). As you move up the pyramid, emotional resonance and economic value increase.
What's the equivalent for learning experiences? At the bottom would be plain old information, divorced from context. At the top might be learning about space by joining astronauts on a shuttle mission and having them mentor you for a week. In between would be most of the types of learning experiences in education today, probably skewed toward the bottom of the pyramid.
Extreme example, maybe, but I feel like this type of thinking might offer some answers to questions about the value of education. I wish someone would translate that visual into something that applies to learning so I wouldn't have to do it when I should be sleeping. Probably something that integrates Bloom's taxonomy, even though I've recently heard references to it being out of style.