This qualitative study investigated the extent to which a diverse sub-set of e-learning designers were aware of UX principles and practices, where their e-learning design practices overlapped with established UX practices, and where UX principles might benefit e-learning designers. E-learning has grown dramatically as an area of focus in instructional design within the last decade and a half. This growth suggests a need for a better understanding of design tools, concepts and principles that can guide an e-learning designer to design better and more effective instruction. One field of design that has potentially had an impact on e-learning design recently is user experience (UX) design. Both fields of UX and e-learning are concerned with designing interactions with technology, but while there are some shared ideas and terms between the two, there has been no research into the perceptions and understanding of UX tools by practicing instructional designers. Nine professional e-learning designers were interviewed to understand their perspective and experience.The findings of this study resulted in four themes and several subthemes. In general the participants of the study were not familiar with the formal practices of UX design. Many were also not familiar with several of the seminal works of the UX design field. The emergent themes suggest there are similar concerns between UX design and e-learning design. There were varying perceptions of the role of an e-learning designer as well as a broad spectrum of perception of what qualifies as good e-learning design. Participants reported the e-learning design field has numerous practitioners who lack formal training in instructional design principles in addition to limited training in other design disciplines. Participants also discussed constraints that could impact their ability to embrace UX practices. Findings suggest e-learning design practitioners and students of the field would likely benefit from a greater awareness of, or even formal training in UX practices. Additional research into the shared practices of UX and e-learning design could also likely open new opportunities to advance the practice of e-learning design.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





e-learning, user experience, design, instructional design, learner experience