Faculty Spotlight: Professor Qian Xu

by Katie Williamsen, Elon iMedia Class of 2012

The faculty members in the iMedia program hold the highest degrees in their fields and have revelant real-world experience. Being a graduate of the program, I wanted to profile the wonderful faculty members who help to make the iMedia program so successful.

Professor Qian Xu is a dedicated professor and usability expert. She grew up in Nanjing, China and completed her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Nanjing University. Professor Xu then moved to Shanghai to work for Newegg in the online marketing department. She then relocated to Penn State to complete her Ph.D.

Lucky for Elon, Professor Xu was hired a little over two years ago to teach interactive media strategies. One of the highlights of the class is developing a user experience test, which is her favorite thing to teach.  I was lucky to have Professor Xu as a teacher and capstone adviser.


How has your background influenced what you teach in the interactive media program?
I received my Ph. D  in media effects, focusing on the influence of online technology. I conducted a series of research on user experience with interactive media in my graduate studies, which contributed a lot to my teaching interests in user experience, user-centered design, and usability testing. My past working experience with the online marketing department for an e-commerce company also sparked my research and teaching interests in tracking and analyzing user behaviors.

Is there a college class or experience that has most influenced your teaching philosophy?
Not really. But I believe in that “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Therefore, I tried to avoid teaching hard facts in class but discuss more about the ways of thinking.

What is your favorite thing about teaching iMedia students?
iMedia students are a very vibrant group. Students come with very different backgrounds that bring a lot of interesting perspectives into class discussions.

How will the skills you are teaching translate to the future?
User experience and user-centered design are the trends of interaction design. Understanding users’ needs and responses is crucial for designing successful interfaces. The user testing tools and methods that the students will learn in my class for assessing user experience and eliciting user response towards the interface will assist them to gain helpful insights for the interactive projects.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
There is not really anything surprising about me. But they might be surprised to learn that the theory class is not that boring and can be quite approachable. The things that they will learn in my class will shed light on practical interface design.

What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend in the Triad?
Cooking and walking. I am recently became interested in Thai cooking and experimenting with curry and coconut milk. I like Lake Mackintosh in Guildford County. They have a nice 3-mile walking trail which I walk often.

Thank you for all of your insights, Professor Xu!

This entry was posted in Communications, Education, Profiles by Katie Williamsen. Bookmark the permalink.

About Katie Williamsen

Katie is the web strategist and social media maven behind Katie Williamsen Web & Social Media Consulting, LLC. She helps lady bosses stop feeling overwhelmed so they can make effective changes for their business. Katie earned her master’s degree in interactive media at Elon University. Katie is also the editor of the lifestyle blog Twin Stripe, dedicated to helping fun, fabulous readers create a bright and modern lifestyle — that doesn’t cost a ton. When Katie isn’t strategizing with clients, blogging or working her 8-to-5 hustle, she’s spending time with her husband Chad and their pup Hobbes.

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