Learning on the Fly

Brightspace Boosts Learning Efficiency and Engagement for Air and Land Critical Care Ambulance Service Provider Ornge

Client: Ornge

Employees: 600

Patients Served: 18,000

Industry: Healthcare

Services: Learning Strategy & Consulting, Creative Services, Learning & Creative Services


  • Fragmented, manual training systems created inefficiencies, lack of transparency
  • Organization “behind the curve” on adoption of LMS and instructional best practices
  • Inconsistent experience for learners
  • No visibility/metrics around learner satisfaction or use of training in practice


  • Brightspace


  • Nearing 100% adoption goal one year post-implementation
  • Significant improvement in course materials
  • 90% learner satisfaction with courses delivered
  • Availability of key metrics on staff intention to use training in daily practice


Companies today are spending $130 billion on training and development worldwide, yet many continue to struggle with creating a modern online learning experience.[1] From micro learning, to the rise of video, to MOOCs, the field of corporate learning is an ever-evolving landscape, as companies change up their strategies and tactics to engage an increasingly mobile and virtualized workforce with diverse training needs.


Complex and varied training needs in a regulated industry

A vital part of the Province of Ontario’s healthcare system, Ornge is Canada’s largest provider of air ambulance and critical care land ambulance services. Serving more than 13 million people over one million square kilometers of land, the company’s 600+ employees perform approximately 18,000 patient transports a year, ensuring that patients in need get where they need to be. As a provider of critical care transport, Ornge’s workplace training requirements are complex and varied. Learners include physicians, pilots, maintenance engineers, communications, and corporate staff. Training subject matter ranges from general health and safety, to medical and aviation training. In addition, as an emergency medical service operating within a highly-regulated environment, Ornge is committed to providing transparency and accountability in all aspects of its business—including its training methods and associated management systems.


The healthcare industry has its own unique learning challenges. Training is a critical element for staff working in a highly dynamic environment, and is essential for ensuring staff stay abreast and remain in compliance with evolving quality standards.

A fragmented and manual process

Prior to adopting a learning management system (LMS), training efforts at Ornge were fragmented and decentralized, managed by disparate systems serving each department. Training was tracked through separate spreadsheets administered by each department. “It was a nightmare,” says Jo-Anne Oake-Vecchiato, Director of Corporate Quality and Patient Safety at Ornge. The organization dabbled in some online training, but for the most part, training was administered manually and delivering through a face-to-face format. “In general, health care has not embraced LMS systems fully,” admits Oake-Vecchiato. “And I would say we were behind the industry.”

Because of the fragmented, highly manual process in place, it was very difficult and time consuming for Ornge to build a picture of an individual employee’s training. “If you wanted to see a paramedic’s training over a full year, you had to go to various department spreadsheets to piece it together,” says Oake-Vecchiato. “We could never pull up a consolidated view by employee. It was the most onerous system that I’ve ever worked with.”

Operating within a highly-regulated industry, Ornge’s training is also subject to both government, and medical oversight. Says Oake-Vecchiato, “You can only imagine the specialized requirements that surround the maintenance of training-related files.”

In addition, Ornge was overly dependent on face-to-face training methods. Course content and materials were behind the curve. Lacking expertise in instructional design, Ornge was not fully leveraging state of the art training best practices.


Recognizing its current systems were not scalable for growth and creating huge inefficiencies in its operation, Ornge began the search for an enterprise learning management system. Key goals for the LMS project included:

  • Improved efficiency and quality of compliance through centralized electronic system
  • Improvements in course content through the use of instructional design best practices
  • Simple and consistent experience for learners
  • Better metrics surrounding employee engagement and use of course materials in practice
  • 100% LMS adoption across the organization

As a public sector entity, Ornge began its LMS search with a request for proposal (RFP), developed with elearning expertise. Vendors were assessed using a rigorous process that included both mandatory and weighted requirements. As the LMS needed to serve a broad range of educational needs across departments—each with separate opinions on the matter—the inclusive RFP process served to provide Oake-Vecchiato with the vital buy in she needed to proceed with the project, and with Brightspace as its chosen LMS solution.

“It was a complex process that took longer than I would have liked, but in the end the long term buy-in was far more important. People had input into the decision.”

Laying the groundwork for best practices in instructional design

While Ornge had tapped into elearning specialists and instructional designers in the past, it had no experience with implementing an LMS. “We wanted to employ best practices for online and blended learning, and help staff overcome barriers to their learning. We had never used an LMS before and didn’t know what we didn’t know,” says Oake-Vecchiato. To accelerate and streamline adoption, Oake-Vecchiato worked closely with D2L’s Creative Services team to lay the groundwork for instructional design, and to demonstrate the potential of the Brightspace LMS. For instance, with the help of the Creative Services team, Ornge was able to implement post course surveys that not only rank a learner’s satisfaction with the course subject matter, but assess the likelihood of them using the material in their daily practice. “Our Board was incredibly impressed by these metrics. They have never had this kind of detailed feedback before, or if they did it was inconsistent and paper based,” says Oake-Vecchiato. “The work we did with Creative Services helped me build a strong business case to bring an instructional designer on staff, and provided me with important return on investment data.”

Connecting a virtualized workforce in new ways

While Oake-Vecchiato will say Ornge’s use of Brightspace is still at an early stage, the organization is leveraging some Brightspace platform features to connect and engage its mostly virtualized workforce in new ways. For instance, it is now using Brightspace discussion forums to connect the company’s 200 medics across province for morbidity/mortality rounds, stimulating exchange of information and discussion on the topic. Metrics from the program reveal a 90% satisfaction rate with a quarter of staff participating in the first round.

Ornge is also now using Brightspace to offer staff voluntary access to a series of presentations and discussions by the organization’s much-loved social worker. Called ‘Tom’s Corner,’ the program has proved to be extremely successful, with more than 200 people signing on to his course.

“We finally have a system where we can look at all the educational components, leverage best practices, and monitor learner engagement. We couldn’t do any of that before.”
Jo-Anne Oake-Vecchiato, Director of Corporate Quality and Patient Safety at Ornge


An easy to use, consistent learning experience

Ornge set the ambitious goal of achieving 100% user adoption of the new Brightspace system. Nearly a year post-implementation it is close to meeting that goal.

“Like most healthcare organizations, we have mandatory learning requirements such as occupational health and safety programs which staff are required to take. We wanted a system that was easy for staff to use, and that provided a consistent learning experience. Because Brightspace delivers on that goal, it is encouraging learner compliance. It’s also providing unprecedented levels of visibility for Ornge leadership. “We finally have a system where we can look at all the educational components, leverage best practices, and monitor learner engagement. We couldn’t do any of that before. We have a huge desire to be better at what we do, and as both an aviation and healthcare delivery organization we have complex educational requirements. As an enterprise we do use Brightspace a lot now. It has meant a night and day difference for our educational programs,” says Oake-Vecchiato.