A new paradigm for programming a robotics manipulator is developed. It is intended that the teaching of the machine will begin with the necessary skills being demonstrated by the human operator in a virtual environment with tactile sensing (haptics). Position and contact force and torque data generated in the virtual environment combined with a priori knowledge about the task is used to identify and learn the skills in the newly demonstrated tasks and then to reproduce them in the robotics system. The peg-in-hole insertion problem is used as a case study. The overall concept is described. The methodologies developed to build the virtual environment and to learn the basic skills are explained. The results obtained so far are presented.