Designing e-learning environments for quality professional education is a challenge for education designers, as the continuing practice of simply moving courses online can be surprisingly disabling. We argue that as universities strive to educate for excellence in professional practice, design approaches for the e-learning components must be conceptualized in a broader view of a contemporary learning environment involving integrated virtual and physical dimensions. These are comprehensively considered in an integrated way to facilitate learning experiences providing an emphasis on grounded practice. Our paper considers learning environments in the service of a broader understanding of a professional "practicum." In providing the more flexible, immediate and evolving virtual experiences, e-learning as a feature must take account of a range of education design considerations we model in a framework of elements. These are outlined, and broader issues are illuminated through a comparative case analysis of educational technology developments at Deakin University in the two professional fields of teaching and journalism. The Education Studies Online (ESO) project and the HOTcopy newsroom simulation project exemplify elements of the approach recommended in addressing the challenges of quality professional education. We highlight the generative role of the education designer in adopting an integrative and strategic stance, when creating such environments. Implications for the selection and use of various e-learning resources and corporate e-learning systems become evident as we highlight the dangers of a returning "instructional industrialism" as we risk allowing courses to "move online", rather than moving towards proposed features of contemporary learning environments.