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


Exploring the World of Instructional Design

Through exploration comes discovery!

Let’s start with Bates’ article, A Short History of Educational Technology.

I appreciate how Bates structured the article, using the main modes of communication to provide the educational technology developments1. “One of the earliest means of formal teaching was oral – though human speech – although over time, technology has been increasingly used to facilitate or ‘back-up’ oral communication”1. It is interesting that we look for ways to support what we are teaching or being taught, we must go beyond the lecture. When lectures first began, it was simply reading off of a scroll, so why do we need to support this now1? I think technology has brought learners to question the teachings. Instead of taking the teachings and understanding what they are being taught, learners try and counter those that teach them. Information has become so accessible, that there are countless numbers of sources available at your fingertips, each with its own perspective. Is this a gratification type of need? Why is there this question to the instructors and information being taught? How do we, as instructors or instructional designers, get past this? Can we get past this?

“The development of web-based learning management systems in the mid-1990s, textual communication, although digitized, became, at least for a brief time, the main communication medium for Internet-based learning”1. Online learning platforms provide such great opportunities for students to continue education. This goes beyond a lecture style of learning and takes print to a more publicly available platform. I am curious to know the impact that web-based learning management systems have had on textbook publishers. Do students always purchase textbooks or do they look to alternate sources available? This could save quite a bit of money for students and with post-secondary education being quite costly, I would be interested in seeing if there has been an impact to sales. My other question would be, has there been a major shift from print sources to “e” or online alternatives?

Telephone, broadcasting, recording, conference calling, and webinars have been introduced, yet these technologies don’t change the oral basis of communication for teaching1. Again, we return the impact and reliance on oral communication for learning with the support of technological developments. Technology has simply made oral communication more accessible and readily available for students. The question is, is this enough?

The settlers have landed and now look to explore the lands.

Let’s continue our exploration with David Merrill’s, First Principles of Instruction.

Merrill’s four phases: “… (a) activation of prior experience, (b) demonstration of skills, (c) application of skills, and (d) integration of these skills into real-world activities” closely align with how I have designed my courses2. I was recently hired as a Business Finance Instructor at a local University and I used this approach in designing my courses. I have found that you need to teach, teach again, watch, and then correct to really help students absorb the material. Business Finance is all about problems. We look at puzzles and cases and try to find ways to solve or make sense of the issue. I really like this approach, but I wonder how relevant these four phases can be to all types of teaching. For example, what if I can’t activate prior experience for my students? Can I use a real-world example instead? Does this impact the flow of these four phases in learning, since a real-world activity is the final phase? I’m also very interested in the reflection concept.  “Learners need the opportunity to reflect on, defend, and share what they have learned if it is to become part of their available repertoire”2. Reflecting and processing the information in order to be able to share it with others, seems like an integral step within the process. Is it the sharing that provides the most benefit? Or is the ability to reflect on the content and analyze that content to see what you do and do not understand? Where does Nelson’s emphasis on collaboration fit? With more of a focus on application, versus demonstration2, it seems that the sharing can really happen at any stage. Can it beneficial to learning collaboratively versus solely and then collaborate? Where do students have that “ah ha” moment?

I’m really looking forward to learning more about instructional design and testing out some of these theories and processes within my own teachings.


1Bates, T. (2014, December 10). A Short History of Educational Technology. Retrieved from

2Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development50(3), 43-59.