Apprenticeships – E-Learning, OJT or Immersive learning?

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I am likely going to shock you.  Heck, I might even cause you to gasp. 

You may have heard the recent announcement by the President of the U.S. on his apprenticeship program.  Equally you might have read from some e-learning sites that the best way to make these programs successful and/or establish a plus for the programs is via e-learning (online learning).

I disagree.  (GASP)

I see only one way to enhance and utilize the benefits of an apprenticeship, thru immersive learning (VR/AR/MR). 

Apprenticeship programs promoted/pushed out by a government is not new.  The two that I thought of immediately when I heard about the announcement was the United Kingdom and Germany.

The U.K.’s angle was three-fold.

  1. Ideal for folks who are out of work, lacking certain skills and/or want a new direction – job wise.  A good way to help with job building/growth – apprenticeship
  2. People who are not/can not (for whatever reason) attend college/university.  The program provides these individuals with an alternative way to learn skills with in various professions.  Again, end goal? Jobs.
  3. Re-training –  This is a universal angle.  And ties into #1.  If I am a miner, and I am aware that the mining industry will never be what it once was (long term automation will take over, it already has started), re-training and therefore learning new skill sets leading to transference and job roles outside of mining. 

Seems like a perfect idea.  The biggest issue with the program is the perception from some folks (more than minor, but not majority) that the government is implying that they are not good enough to attend college.  A stigma for sure.

The Germany angle is similar to U.K.

The difference?  It is working.

I fear the United States with its approach, will end up with the U.K. challenges.  I base this on a couple areas:

  • Government commitment including funding and other items.  The track record on government saying one thing and then actually implementing with the appropriate funding across the board is horrific. I’m still waiting for our high speed train. 
  • Corporate business commitment.  –  It has to be there. 
  • Folks buying into the program and wanting to utilize it.  The WIFM will play a key    role.  Let’s go back to the miner and here in the U.S. you have been hearing a lot about coal miners.  I am sorry to say this (and I mean no disrespect), but the coal industry will not ever return to its heyday.  Automation is here, plus other factors including natural gas and green technology.
  • Elimination of any stigmas.  They exist.  Sadly.

E-Learning a good way?

There are a lot of sites where you can take courses to become an electrician.  Yet they lack an important component, real world learning with an electrician in the field.  There is not an immersive experience in any of them. 

So yes, online courses exist.

Yes, you gain the big plus of learning on your time.  But I found quite a few where you have to follow a linear approach, defeating the key benefit of WBT – where I go where I want to go, to build up that skill set, gain new information, etc.

Thus, it is following the synchronous based learning approach, which is not an effective way to learn, and a key factor on why online learning at the university level is not generally seen in a positive light by students.


Depending on the vocational job role, the individual could have a daily to do list to reinforce learning.  Whether it creates synthesis (an important component after comprehension and retention) is another question. 

I’m not going to deny that online learning will work with many vocations.  But, what if I want to go beyond..  What if I want to empower beyond OJT?

This is where immersive learning comes about.

Change Apprenticeship to Internship


First off the term “apprenticeship” should be changed. 

It sometimes has a stigma attached to it.  As noted with what is occurring in the U.K. and their apprenticeship program push.

It shouldn’t have that stigma, but for quite a few people they hear “apprenticeship” and think of certain working class job roles.

It is a very sad reality.

The internship term on the other hand?

Internships at least in the United States are coveted. They are never seen in any negative light. 

People out there of various ages (not just college or high school) learning new skills, gaining knowledge to apply in that role or other roles at a business. 

They may stay there or they may not (i.e. go elsewhere), but honestly, I never have heard the term “apprentice” used, even though in many ways they are the same. 

Which is why, I see no reason why “intern” could replace the term “apprentice”.

Immersive learning

Recent factoids

  • Boeing plans to cut engineer training time by 75% by using the Microsoft HoloLens (BI)
  • Walmart will be rolling out VR training to 30 Walmart Academies across the US, and by end of 2017, all 200 facilities will use VR for training. An expected 140,000 Walmart associates are projected to be trained via VR in 2017.  (HR Drive)
  • 360 video is taking off leads for those seeking video for VR. However, Google could change that, with their recent launch of VR180 (180 degrees, rather than 360).  Google is trying to create a VR standard for creation and sharing of VR content. Oh and as an added bonus cheaper cameras using the 180 format. (ZDNet).  Right now 360 cameras as a whole are expensive, although there are several that are under $100.
  • Google Daydream is disrupting the VR smartphone headset space.  It costs around $79 (USD).  VR smartphone headsets will lead the VR market from a headset standpoint, far ahead of VR headsets tethered to a PC or as a standalone, such at Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (better product than OR). 
  • On the content development side (not referring to courses here), PC tethered headsets led by HTC Vive are leading in VR. According to BI, 56% of developers in 2017 are building content for HTC Vive.
  • VR smartphone headsets, are being led by Google Daydream with 24% content development in 2017, up from 16% in 2016. (BI)
  • AR development is led by Microsoft Halolens with 16% content development in 2017, an increase of 7% from 2016. (BI)
  • The development of content in 2017 is geared toward separate platforms, i.e. VR, AR and MR, rather than a combination platform that does it all.

How immersive can disrupt in a positive way apprenticeships partnerships/programs

Majority of people have a smartphone (in fact the market is at saturation level – globally speaking). 

We know smartphone VR headsets are the driver in the VR space and projected to be for the immediate future.  VR used in training/learning enables each person to experience in a virtual world, new job skills.  Experience without physically having to be working on or being at a physical location. 

This to me, is far superior than online learning, because I am able to do a variety of things using my eyes and hands to “touch” (albeit grabbing something isn’t always doable, depending on content).

If I wanted to be a mechanic, why view an online course, or observe someone via OJT (and hoping that the person providing the physical training will spend 100% of their time, doing so) when I could be working on a “car” in a virtual environment.

Rather than have five people (for example) watching one person work on a physical car, then each person does it, while others watch;  all five can be working on a car, with various learning steps and levels depending on where they are in the “immersive course”. 

If we push out AR,  a headset is not needed. 

A person on could work and increase their knowledge and skills at their location (a restaurant, job site, etc.), seeing various AR features. Right within a smartphone and/or tablet.

As for mixed reality, gear up for a new tier of immersive engagement.

In MR the virtual world is combined with the physical world.  The hands issue is eliminated.

Holograms play an important and key role with MR.  Thus the person providing the vocational training, does not physically have to be with the “intern”. 

They could be at another job site, and the “intern” could be at home, using their MR device, but seeing the hologram of the other individual, even a hologram of what the person is doing and now, you can see it in “real time” and work on it too.

Just not at the location.

Business and New Job Skills

There are plenty of people who want to attend college, but cannot afford it.  There are plenty of people who do not have a job, but want one. 

There are folks who need to be re-trained for the 21st century, whether that is due to the current demise of certain fields of business (example: coal industry, mining) or due to need of our current trend of rapid change of technology and job roles and requirements.

With immersive a company (regardless if SMB, mid-size, large – Enterprise), could hire this new breed of interns and empower them with new skills to use whether it at that company or another one (just as current internship programs do).  

Immersive is achievable, doable and beneficial, as companies such as Boeing and Walmart clearly see.

Bottom Line

e-learning (online learning) can be a useful approach to vocational training. It has worked and continues to work with various job roles. 

If you see vocational learning with online learning as a major plus, why limit yourself? 

Why not a combination of e-learning with immersive learning?


Why not embrace immersive learning as a great opportunity not just for your employees; nor school or post-school internships, but also for the folks who are plan or are involved with an apprenticeship?

Why not break the perception, and change an apprenticeship to the term “internship”?

Bust the model of OJT and replace it with immersive engagement.

Because when I go home, or head off somewhere else, I’m no longer working/practicing at the location.  I have to wait until the next day or the next time I go to my apprenticeship. 

My comprehension is there. Retention maybe? Synthesis unlikely (you need retention first). 

Online will achieve it, depending on how the course is build.

Immersive learning can expand it.

Applying what you learned


Real practice.

Real Synthesis,

because you are in the

Real world.

Virtually and Physically.

E-Learning 24/7