This paper is to propose a learning theory based approach for the design of initial collaborative e-learning environment. This approach attempts to provide a reasonable connection of theoretical perspectives on learning with e-tools, so as to consider technology as well as learning contexts as a whole in the development of e-learning environment. This approach emphasizes the identification of design requirements driven from key attributes that are distilled from learning theories. A functional description of collaborative e-learning environments is modeled and represented in terms of a combination of selected building blocks, in which the space of potential concepts is determined. One contribution of this paper is the development of an embodiment process to derive potential physical descriptions representing e-learning environments. To explore the solution space, a range of potential concept is generated to prevent overlooking valuable concepts. These concepts are then evaluated to select an appropriate one that meets all or most of the design requirements. An example is used to demonstrate the use of the proposed approach in developing a prototype in collaborative learning. The evolution of this environment is a need for continuous improvement based on the approach.