Virtual On-The-Job Training

When assessing how technology can apply to learning there are many different approaches that can be taken.  Through the process of the Stanford d.School’s Design Thinking Process (2016), it became evident that Christina and Leigha have very different perspectives when it comes to the application of technology to learning.  

Christina works for a tech company making technology-enabled learning environments primarily for military personnel. She is responsible for designing and leading development teams in the creation of digital learning products and environments. These learning aids support or enforce learning that takes place in curriculum which is not created or controlled by her company.  

Leigha runs an accounting firm and is a finance professor at Capilano University (CapU).  At CapU, she employs digital learning tools to support the learning environment and curriculum she designs.  The learning tools are not created by Leigha and she has limited control within the functionality and restrictions of the tools. 

Design Thinking Process

While working through the Design Thinking Process (Carter, 2018), Christina and Leigha discussed the needs of their students and compared their outlooks on intellectual risk taking and engagement in online learning within their diverse professional fields.  Through this discussion, they found that if a virtual environment could replicate the reality of on-the-job training, both types of learner groups would benefit. Christina’s military students are often dealing with massive and expensive equipment, not to mention, life and death situations. Although they may have read instructions or learnt specific steps to follow within a classroom environment, they have to wait until a ship or tank and a supervisor is available to really understand how to read the situation and what the often, very severe repercussions of failure are.  Leigha is in quite a different situation, where her students are not dealing with life and death situation, but following the law. Leigha is able to guide them towards the correct method of thinking in order to follow the law and complete a task. Leigha uses digital accounting tools to aid learning and support the curriculum she has taught. The digital accounting software available has limited flexibility and control, either providing too much guidance or just referencing textbook material.  

Although the learners are from two very diverse industries, the conclusion that the creation of a digital learning environment that mimics reality for on-the-job training, would be ideal.  This idea is in alignment with Jeffrey Dalto who argued that unlike media that came before, these new immersive environments allow for areas that previously were only able to be learned on the job, be brought to the classroom (Dalto, 2018).   

Problem Statement:

Within an integrated online learning platform, how can we create real like consequences so that students experience the emotions and feelings of what failure could mean?


An online learning platform that includes:

  • The creation of a virtual environment that replicates on-the-job training for a specified task. 
  • Create a branching/non-linear path to follow.
  • Allow students to go along any path to the solution, “instructor” assistance will only be provided if they are nearing a critical and/or unrecoverable error.
  • If guidance is ignored, the student will be allowed to reach the critical and/or unrecoverable error.
  • Upon failure, the student will be delivered additional content to understand the possible repercussions of the error. 

This prototype solution is about creating a digital learning environment that provides practice of an on-the-job task that allows the learner to go off the expected/correct path, and offers gentle guidance back without providing solutions to the process.  The primary focus is learning and engagement within that learning. The opportunity to explore intellectual risk-taking shouldn’t outweigh the learning.

This prototype can be implemented for all levels of learners as it would provide guidance based on the skill level required for the specified task.  Knowles states that adult learners are self-directed and expect to face the consequences of their actions (Knowles, 1973, 80). The desire to face the consequences of your actions, depicts a real-life simulator would work to increase engagement and bring intellectual risk taking into the learning environment. “In this direction he must, if he is an educator, be able to judge what attitudes are actually conducive to continued growth and what are detrimental” (Knowles, 1973, 69).  The progress and growth, as well as the results of each attempt, should be recorded and reviewed to ensure the correct behaviours and attitudes required to be successful within these industries are present and being accurately portrayed through the learning process.

Christina and Leigha would appreciate input on:

  • Would the temptation to explore risks in a digital environment when the repercussions aren’t real need to be mitigated?
  • Is there a desire to explore the possible repercussions of a situation because it is a simulation?
  • Would providing real-life photos or interviews on how such mistakes impacted people’s lives be an effective form of mitigation?

Please provide your input before December 6th, so as to allow us the opportunity to properly address your concerns in our evaluation and feedback response. 

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.



Please disregard the formatting for the References listed. The Blog Posting generator does not allow formatting.

Carter, D. (2018, November). Design Thinking Process. Retrieved from

Stanford University Institute of Design. (2016). A Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking — Stanford [Website]. Retrieved from

Dalto, J. (2018). AR, VR and 3-D can make workers better: IE. ISE ; Industrial and Systems Engineering at Work, 50(9), 42-47. Retrieved from

Knowles, M. (1973, April). The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species. Retrieved from