Educators Weigh In: 5 Ways to Use Virtual Reality Welding Simulators in the Classroom

By now, you’ve probably heard that that virtual reality welding simulators like guideWELD® VR can save you time and money while engaging students and training them more efficiently. And it’s true – studies like this one have been published that support the effectiveness of these teaching tools.

To help you get started with virtual reality welding simulators so you can see these results for yourself, we asked seasoned users from across the country how they were using these tools in their programs. Keep reading for 5 ways to use virtual reality welding simulators in the classroom.

5 Ways to Use Virtual Reality Welding Simulators in the Classroom

1: Use them to recruit students for your welding program

“We can’t bring students into the actual shop because of the liability, but with the simulator, students can get the feel for it and kind of see what’s going on before enrolling,” said George Karr, IT Administrator and Welding Instructor for the Hollenstein Career &
Technology Center in Fort Worth, TX. “Before school started, we had kids come in with their older siblings during  orientation who remembered using the simulator last year and were excited to show their younger brother or sister. They really like it – it’s a great recruiting tool.”

2: Use them to provide welding and manufacturing career exploration opportunities

“A lot of these kids have never touched a welder or turned a lathe in their life,” said Mobile Manufacturing Lab Technician John Paulus, who uses the guideWELD VR welding simulator in the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Mobile Manufacturing Lab to provide middle- and high-school students from across Western Wisconsin with manufacturing career exploration opportunities. “We’re trying to get these kids excited about getting skilled and getting into manufacturing careers. This equipment is enhancing our ability to do that.”

3. Use them to engage students with classroom competitions

“We had competitions with the guideWELD VR unit… everyone was trying to beat each other’s scores and kept taking more turns. Everyone was really excited about it,” recalled Rodian Manjarres, a second-year student at the J. Harley Bonds Career Center in Greer, SC. “I liked it a lot because I could beat the guys at it. There are only a few of us that can get the gun to turn gold.”

4. Use them to keep more students productive – and safe

“When students asked why they were having to slow down or speed up or whatever, I’d walk through their weld with them,” stated Karr. “Once they got going, I could walk away from them and oversee other students in the shop who were working on something else. The kids using simulators didn’t need as much help as those working alone – it told them what to do so I could go help someone who needed it.

5. Use them to generate community support for your program

Harlan Community High School Agriculture Education Teacher Dan Leinen recalled one specific reason why his was able to fundraise money relatively easily: the welding simulators themselves.

“We had one here already, and if people wanted, they could come here and see it,” said Leinen. “When people got their hands on it and saw what they would be supporting, and experienced what the kids would do in the classroom, it was a huge seller.”

Leinen recalls one company owner who had an FFA background but had never welded. He sat down and tried the simulator and almost instantly committed to donating funds.

“In today’s economy, it’s hard to get funds from companies,” stated Leinen. “But if you can  show them what they’re supporting, that makes a difference.”

Ready to learn more about the guideWELD VR welding simulator? Click here.

Realityworks to Unveil New Agriculture and Health Science Training Tools at National Career & Technical Education Conference

Models and curriculum for key job skill development will be on display at one of the world’s largest gatherings of CTE professionals

Eau Claire, Wis. (November 30, 2017) – Educators and industry leaders attending the Association for Career & Technical Education’s CareerTech VISION 2017 Conference in Nashville next week will get the first look at new learning aids for agriculture education and health science from Realityworks, Inc. A Midwest-based company that has been developing innovative educational tools for over two decades, Realityworks’ new anatomical models address job skill development in two in-demand fields: agriculture education and nursing training.

“Educators have told us that they need new ways to provide targeted skills training and prepare their students for careers,” said Realityworks President and CEO Timm Boettcher. “These new tools and curriculum were designed to help engage their students and prepare them for success in the workforce.”

Realityworks will give attendees a sneak peak of two expanded lines. New products on display include human anatomy models that teach structures of the body, wearable simulators for training health occupations students on measuring blood pressure and developing empathy for patients with hemiplegia. Realityworks will also be unveiling additional models for teaching animal and plant systems.

All of these new anatomical models will be showcased alongside products and programs for skill development in other CTE pathways. They include:

– A virtual reality welding simulator, electrical wiring kit and other welding and trade skills resources
– Injection training arms, geriatric simulators and other health science resources
– Animal models, plant models and other agriculture education resources
– Infant simulators, human development models and other health and human services resources
– An employability skills teaching toolkit to help students develop soft skills

“We strive to help educators create interactive, hands-on learning environments where students can explore career pathways and engage in active learning opportunities,” said Boettcher. “Our newest tools are detailed and interactive, and are designed to help educators engage, impact and educate today’s students.”

ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2017 Conference will be held in Ryman Hall C of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN on December 7 and 8. Realityworks’ products and programs will be on display at Booth #401.

For more information on Realityworks’ products and programs, visit http://realityworks.com/. For a full presentation schedule and additional conference details, visit https://www.careertechvision.com/.

About Realityworks, Inc. 

Established 20 years ago to better address teen pregnancy prevention, parenting skills, child abuse and neglect through educational products, Realityworks, Inc. is dedicated to creating experiential learning tools that engage students, teach needed skills and provide career exploration opportunities. Most famous for their RealCare Baby infant simulator (formerly known as Baby Think it Over or BTIO), Realityworks now provides comprehensive learning solutions that pair curriculum with hands-on learning aids, student activities and assessment tools to create innovative learning environments. These solutions are used in middle, secondary and post-secondary schools to address a variety of Career & Technical Education pathways, including health & human services, health sciences, welding and trade skills, agriculture education, sex education, business education and more. With simulators in 62 percent of U.S. school districts and programs in more than 90 countries around the world, Realityworks has made a worldwide impact. For more information, visit www.realityworks.com, or call toll-free 800-830-1416.

Top 5 Ways to Interact with Realityworks at CareerTech VISION 2017

5. Check out our Presentations

4. Find out what it feels like to age

3. See how fast you can put together our Cow Model!

2. Try your hand at virtual welding

1. Learn all about the new products we have in store for 2018!

We’re going to be launching new Agriculture and Health Science training tools in the coming year. Make sure to come visit for a sneak peek at the new line-up!

Stop by booth 401 to learn more about how our innovative learning tools for skills training can enhance your programs!

5 Interesting Facts – All About Agriculture

1. Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world

2. There are 914 million acres of farmland just in the U.S.

3. The average U.S. farmer can feed 155 people

4. Beef farming accounts for 29% of American farms

5. In 2015, $133.1 billion worth of American agricultural products were exported around the world

Learn more about the current state of Agriculture with our FREE infographic.

Find out all about our great new innovative learning tools for agriculture skills training:

I Can, We Will Make a Difference

FFA is out in full force and showing their best qualities and mission of “making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for Premier Leadership, Personal Growth, and Career Success through Agriculture Education.” Students and educators are showing how they not only care about great practices and programs, but also how important it is to have each student gain valuable experience and education.

I Can. We Will.

The FFA convention motto states “I Can. We Will.” and it is easy to see how this is being lived out. Each student has honed their craft, focused on their skill development and prepared tirelessly to show their abilities from parliamentary procedure to judging, flower design to persuasion speeches. It has been great to see so much hard work and their capacity to encourage one another. Win or lose, it is making the Ag community better, sharper and a more well-oiled machine.

Hands-On Collaboration

From the exhibit floor, it has been an honor to discuss best practices and learning styles of their classrooms and students with so many Agriculture educators. We enjoyed watching as the exhibit booth became a place for educational ideas. As one teacher was talking about how much they would use the Plant Science Kit, another started sharing ideas of a classroom activity using ‘smores to create the cell walls of a plant. The discussion got both educators more and more engaged and excited as they collaborated about how the best ideas come when they are looking for more engaging ways to bring learning to their students. As they moved over to look at the Animal Science products, they engaged more teachers talking about how the Ruminant Model could be used multiple times as their students learned about digestive systems and how getting a real ruminant from a butcher could enhance the real-life understanding.

Reality at Work

The engagement of teachers as they discussed how they best teach different topics brought the motto full circle. Not only are they looking to find more ways that they can, but they are also learning from each other, working together even when they are from states as far away as Ohio and Texas or Florida and Oregon. They are seeing and benefiting from the WE CAN. They are understanding that new hands-on learning models bring more in-depth learning to their students. Collaboration with their colleagues and other students brings about engagement, broadens their horizons and strengthens the bonds that make us all stronger. The FFA goals of Premier Leadership, Personal Growth and Career Success easily become a reality in this environment, reinforcing what we as a company know firsthand, that reality works!

FFA Blue and Bold

By Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager

Realityworks is at the 2017 National FFA Convention & Expo this week, and it is easy to feel the buzz and excitement in the air. Indianapolis is swarming with students and advisors from all over the country convening for this annual event. The FFA blue is in full force as over 60,000 students, advisors, and educators compete, discuss and collaborate in all forms concerning Agriculture. Whether or not you are familiar with FFA, it is quite an amazing sight to see and it brings me back to the Paul Harvey monologue of “God Made a Farmer.”

In a day and age where we have so many tense and conflicting views, this conference has been a breath of fresh air. Students come confidently with their professional FFA attire, look you straight in the eye when you talk with them and greet you and everyone around them with “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir.” They understand the idea of what leadership is because FFA educators and advisors teach it to them; it is part of the curriculum; it is part of the FFA DNA. These students are focused on gaining skills for their careers. They have a deep understanding that whether they end up in an Ag pathway or choose another career path, everything they are learning will suit them well.

As an exhibitor and partner with the National Association of Agriculture Educators and FFA, we are fortunate to see this all firsthand. As students and advisors experience educational products like our Cow Model and our guideWELD® VR welding simulator, we are seeing them dig deep into questions of best practices. We are seeing groups of students taking the welding coupons from our Weld Defects Kit out of the case and diagnosing the issues of the weld, inspecting each one, discussing the issue and how to fix it. We are seeing advisors using our Cow Uterus Model and discussing artificial insemination with students and how tough it can be to move the artificial insemination straw gun through that region for insemination. Advisors are seeing firsthand how using these hands-on learning aids will enhance their classrooms and deepen student learning and comprehension.

We have only experienced Day One of the FFA Convention, but it is easy to see who the future belongs to. FFA students are showing up and showing up boldly! These students have focus. They don’t just have interest, they have passion, and they see the way forward to better themselves, others and the world we all live in. They see that dedication to hard work, grasping understanding of solid agriculture concepts and using quality learning aids will help them achieve part of the FFA motto and mission of “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.” This is not only something they just say; they are living FFA blue boldly every day!

Go Back to School with this Great Welding Promo!

Special Offer: Free YETI Cooler with guideWELD® Purchase*

Right now, receive a free YETI Hopper Flip™ 12 cooler when you purchase the guideWELD® VR welding simulator or the guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system.

guideWELD® VR welding simulator features:

  • Most affordable welding simulator on the market
  • GMAW/MIG welding and SMAW/stick welding available
  • Monitors assignments, student progress and gives personalized feedback
  • No licensing fees and unlimited seats for users
  • Curriculum included

guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system features:

  • Instant welding technique feedback inside helmet during live welding
  • Heads-up display shows guides for work angle, travel angle and speed
  • Comes with 18 Welding Procedure Specifications and ability to customize WPS’s
  • Curriculum included

See our entire line of Welding and Trade Skills products here.

*DISCLAIMER: No other discount applies. No credits on free items. One YETI Hopper Flip™ 12 cooler per purchase. Expires October 31, 2017.

5 Ways to Integrate Active Learning into Your Lectures

By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV

A new buzzword in the education world is “active learning.” Across the country, colleges are adapting from the lecture model to active learning. Imagine your old college days, sitting in a sea of students and listening to the professor talk for one or two hours.  Were you able to stay awake? Kids these days say they cannot.

Perhaps today’s students have become accustomed to being entertained, but more importantly, maybe it is time to abandon that old “sage on the stage” model, even at the highest educational levels.

Active learning does encompass some of the older teaching strategies, such as “think, pair, share” and experiential learning. At Realityworks, we embraced active learning before it had a name. We researched how students learn and found that hands-on learning beat lectures any day.

We’re not saying that there is no longer any room for lectures. However, an active learning technique called PAUSE can help make lectures more impactful to today’s students.

Active learning strategy: Pausing in lecture

These strategies work towards inserting wait time in lectures for students to reflect on, discuss and apply the ideas that were just presented. They encourage students to engage actively in the lecture, rather than passively taking notes. These strategies also help students to realize what they do and don’t understand about the lecture.

Try this with your students by:

  1. Asking them not take notes as you work through a concept on the board. When you are done, give them five minutes to copy your notes down and discuss the concept with peers. This allows students to process the information and identify what they don’t understand.
  2. Pausing for six to ten seconds between asking a question and calling on a student to respond. Have students do a quick write-up about a concept just covered in lecture (e.g. their understanding, two questions they have about the concept as presented, what they would like to know more about, etc.). Optional: Collect the write-ups to help you better understand what they understood from the lecture, what questions they have and how best to keep them engaged.
  3. Conducting “turn and talks.” Ask peers to talk to each other about what they do and don’t understand and/or share with each other what they wrote down in their notes about a particular concept just covered in lecture. Encourage students to add to their notes from the discussion
  4. Having students apply their understanding of a concept just covered by working with a small group around a huddle board. Optional: Have a few groups share their work and elicit reactions and reviews from other students. Summarize findings and scientific normative explanations.
  5. Having students conduct “think-pair-shares,” polling them to keep their minds engaged in the topic and share their ideas with their peers for greater meaning-making opportunities.

I am grateful to work for a company that focuses directly on providing hands-on learning resources that support active learning. The curriculum we pair with these tools is full of resources and activities that help students to experience something before actually doing it.  Our research shows that when this type instruction is provided, the students’ learning occurs more quickly and at a deeper level.

How are you supporting active learning in your classroom? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Diane Ross holds a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Marshall University in Huntington, WV. She has been with Realityworks since 2013, and has been instrumental in assisting educators with implementing educational solutions that make a difference in students’ lives.

The Growing Global Demand on Agriculture

There is a growing demand for food production across the globe. Current estimates are that the world population reached 7 billion in 2012 and there are projections that put the global population at 9.1 billion by 2050. This infographic contains astonishing statistics about the agriculture industry and the demands of both the U.S. and the global populations.

Learn more: Realityworks is now offering a line of innovative learning tools for the Agriculture classroom. Our webinar, Engaging Today’s Agriculture Students in Animal Science, explores using hands-on learning methods in the agriculture classroom. Watch it here.

Building a Stronger Workforce of the Future, One Ag Student at a Time

By Jamey McIntosh, RealCareer Product Manager for Realityworks, Inc.

When I think about the needs that we face in developing a workforce that will keep our country competitive, I think primarily of soft skills. In fact, I hear that concern from educators throughout the field of Career and Technical Education (CTE). Knowing how to act appropriately in a job setting, how to communicate effectively, and even how to search for a job are skills that many educators could say has become a lost art. (In fact, we as a company have heard repeated pleas for resources that help students develop soft skills; it’s why we created the RealCareer Employability Skills Program). We have seen an uptick in the need to teach these skills.

Despite consistently hearing how important soft skills are for today’s generation of students, one thing was also made clear to me on my recent trips to the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators’ (WAAE) summer conference and the Calumet County Farm Days celebration: agricultural educators are getting it right. On my trip to Calumet County, I watched, impressed, as students politely greeted my family and me. Wearing dark blue t-shirts that proudly stated “Brillion FFA” on the front in neon yellow, these students looked me straight in the eye when I talked, greeted me with “yes, sir” (and “no, ma’am” to my wife). They confidently walked us around the barn, explaining the milking process, the importance of hard work and how different jobs were for different needs within agriculture, listening to our questions and answering politely. It was through the students of the Brillion district of the Wisconsin FFA Association that I saw the workforce of tomorrow being formed… and these polite, informed, hardworking and innovative students indicated that the future is bright.

However, this bright future is not something that just happens, despite what some might think. I’ve spent time with agricultural educators across the country as they consider the best ways to engage their students and implement interactive learning aids like our own animal and plant science models, and I’ve seen firsthand the hard work that is put into helping students develop both employability skills and technical, job-related skills. At the WAAE conference, I was surrounded by educators taking time out of their summer to learn about electrical wiring wall panel creation, forestry best practices and other career development practices.

When building our future workforce, we need to remember that hands-on learning and project-based learning are great educational tools. After all, the FFA motto includes “learning to do and doing to learn;” it is through this idea that hands-on learning becomes so important. Unlike other core educational classes, it is the hands-on training that gives CTE students a leg up when looking at future employment – it’s not just theory being taught; it is actual training and doing that prepares our students for the careers of tomorrow.

Give your students a daily reminder of the importance of agricultural education with this free classroom poster by Realityworks. Click here to download a printable copy for your own classroom.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views NewsletterClick here to view the article in its entirety.