Model for Change in Digital Learning Environments within Air Traffic Control

Posted By mregan on Feb 24, 2020 | 0 comments

Over these past two weeks I have been able to develop a model for implementing change within digital learning environments for air traffic control. Air traffic control is a unique job but extremely difficult for students to inevitably pass training. Xing and Manning (2005) describe air traffic control as a “dynamic environment where controllers constantly receive a large volume of information from multiple sources to monitor changes in the environment, make decisions, and perform effective actions in a timely manner” (p. 1). Given the dynamic characteristics of the job and fast-paced change in technology over the past decade, change is inevitable from an external reference and therefore points to the requirement of internal change within an organization to acquiesce and harmonize to new changes. By interviewing two experienced colleagues (see Table 1.1), I have been to produce an infographic visual representation (see Figure 1.1) of how implementation of change would look within digital learning environments. The model takes into account previous change model theories, the results and insights from my colleagues (Table 1.1) and my own experiences as an air traffic control operations specialist and instructor.


The model as seen in Figure 1.1 depicts a four-phase process as follows: Evaluation phase, participation phase, re-evaluation phase, and implementation phase. Although simplistic is viewing, each phase is unique and builds upon the last phase making the end product of change that much more robust and effective. The four phases are first built on previously researched change models of the evaluation, re-evaluation, and action method (ERA Model) and the participatory action research (PAR) model. “The ERA model provides a more detailed picture of how the micro-processes of change work in an organization” (Chen et al., 2006, p. 1301). The combination of evaluating and analyzing the complex nature of the organization and particularly its values and overall system-inherent, lends this method to a good starting point to enact change. Moreover, its addition of re-evaluative phases provides more concrete identification of needs assessments required for change to be realized. A downside to the ERA model is a lack of participation and collaboration; Cue the PAR model. Where the ERA model lacks in collaborative change methods, the PAR model makes up for in abundance.  Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) elaborate that PAR examines issues systemically from the perspectives of lived experiences. This is seen cogently during the participation phase of Figure 1.1 where subject matter expert group(s) is/are formed in order to add substantive analyzing of the initial evaluation steps seen in phase one. This participatory inclusion from multiple organizational levels is encouraged by Captain Daigle, an interviewee seen in Table 1.1.


Leadership is critical in any change implementation, regardless of model(s) used. Both Captain Mornan and Captain Daigle describe leadership as pivotal entities to change implementation: leaders help to drive change and leaders provide tools for change to be realized. Overall, leaders are apart of the process and need to be present during the whole implementation of change. This can instill confidence in the required change needed. Leaders need to encourage and foster collaborative change initiatives to give a sense of accountability for change to be successful when part of the process (see also Ackoff, 2006). Leadership within digital environments needs to keep up with the dynamic changing environment of the digital world. Digital impacts on an organization need to be realized by the leadership and this can be reflected through leadership providing change initiatives and policies that account for the dynamic digital environment.


The model for change in digital learning environments I created (Figure 1.1) lays out an initial evaluation phase that analyzes an organizations complete structure, systems, and values, while identifying the needs required. Following this evaluative phase, the second phase of participation brings subject matter experts together to collaboratively analyze the initial evaluation, fostering engaged brainstorming. This gives a robust evaluation to the current identification of needs. A re-evaluation in phase three allows leadership to effectively take all the necessary and positive evaluations and analyses from phases one and two to move into implementation phase four. Phase four ensures that robust and effective strategies, combined with a comprehensive action plan, facilitate successful change to be realized.

Table 1.1 Interview Results from Two Experienced Military Air Traffic Control Training Supervisors with Leadership and Expertise in Digital Learning Environments

Name of Interviewee (Rank & Name) Number of Years in Military and Position Question 1: What role does leadership in application of change within digital learning environments? Question 2: With your experience, what are some principles to follow when implementing change?
Captain B. Mornan 30+ years service: Training Officer Air Traffic Control Services 19 Wing Comox -Leadership drives change and sets realistic goals that are attainable to subordinates

-Leadership provides tools and resources for change to be enacted effectively

-Leadership provides expectations that are reasonable to foster change initiatives

1.    Consistency

2.    Attainable Goals

3.    Engages Subordinates

4.    Provides Tools Necessary for task to succeed

5.    Leads

Captain R. Daigle 30+ years service: Simulation Designer and Training Expert Air Traffic Control Services 19 Wing Comox -Leadership leads by example in both action and attitude…this encourages those under them to do the same, thus increasing probability for change to be successful from start to finish

-Leadership fosters participation from all levels

1.    Lead by example

2.    Participation from all levels and subject matter experts

3.    Re-evaluate to always make things better

4.    Adaptability – things change, we have to change sometimes too

Figure 1.1 Click Below

Change Model Digital Environments Mark Regan


Ackoff, R.L. (2006). Idealized design; how to dissolve tomorrow’s crisis…today. Reference and Research Book News, 21(3) Retrieved from


Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234-262. doi:10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215


Chen, Y.,  & Chang, H.C. (2006). ERA model: a customer-orientated organizational change model for the public service. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 17(10), 1301-1322.


Xing, J., & Manning, C.A. (2005). Complexity and automation displays of air traffic control: Literature review and analysis (Report No. DOT/FAA/AM-05/4). Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration.

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