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.

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!

A Recipe for Creating Careers

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

Creating Careers, not preparing students for a job. That’s the message I took away from a recent meeting with Dr. David Barbour with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. During our time Barbour, an education consultant for Career and Technical Education (CTE), discussed how and why his department is focusing on Creating Careers, not simply preparing students for a job.

Pushback

The main reason for resistance Barbour hears from parents who may be reluctant to encourage children to take CTE Course is based on an old premise. Many still believe students should get trained for a job at a company and work at that job their entire lifetime. That just isn’t how companies work anymore. Some manufacturers get bigger, others are absorbed by a new industry or the products become outdated and the company chooses to go out of business. This has left some parents facing unemployment late in life. The adage of getting and staying at a job your whole life no longer works today.

The Recipe for Success

Barbour is embracing a whole new way of looking at preparing students for the workforce:  he calls it ‘prepare for careers, prepare for education’ (education, work, education, work). He believes that schools need to prepare students for a career, not just a job. This means learning skills and getting a job, then pursuing more education and moving up the job/career ladder. Through this recipe for Creating Careers, students are prepared to work for any company because they have the basic premise of how a company operates and are continually building skill and knowledge. The employee becomes a lifelong learner, continuing to advance in their career and ready to move into a new and better job.

A Bright Future

Nationwide, the graduation rate for students enrolled in a CTE Concentrated course is 13% higher (90%) than students enrolled in other courses. More than 75% of secondary CTE concentrators pursued postsecondary education shortly after high school. This supports that ‘education’, ‘work’, ‘education’, ‘work’ thinking. Building a career is personally rewarding, creates a strong workforce and allows people to thrive. CTE is truly a key element to building a bright future for our emerging workforce.

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!

Safe, Spark-Free Welding Training

Over 50 percent of U.S. products require welding, including race cars, bridges, ships, computers, medical devices, farm equipment, gas pipelines, skyscrapers, automobiles, train tracks, airplanes and scooters.

Welding Training

Welding training programs are effective in many settings. One of the places these programs can be successful is correctional facilities.

Studies have shown that inmates who take part in education programs have a 43% lower recidivism rate than those who don’t.

What’s more, every dollar spent on funding prison education programs can drastically reduce incarceration costs in the first three years post-release.

Here are two more statistics for you: The U.S. will need 400,000 welders by 2025. Right now, 81% of manufacturers cannot find enough skilled workers.

Safe & Effective

The guideWELD® VR welding simulator is a safe, effective way to teach students and inmates alike valuable welding skills they can use to get a job in the manufacturing field.

Sparks are not generated. Internet is not required. All you need is a computer and a power source.

Learn More

See the guideWELD VR welding simulator in action.

For a limited time, you can SAVE $1,000 on the guideWELD VR welding simulator and guideWELD LIVE real welding guidance system. Click here to learn more.

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 Key Soft Skills

What are Soft Skills? Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Recent studies have found that employers think personality skills are just as important, if not more important, than hard skills.

This infographic discusses five key soft skills and why employers find them to be essential in today’s workplace. Download it today as a daily reminder for your students of the importance of developing these skills.

Learn More: In our recent webinar, Best Practices for Teaching Soft Skills, we share tips and best practices for teaching students the soft skills they’ll need for life beyond the classroom. Watch it here.

Finding Inspiration

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

I attended the NC WORKS Conference last month and walked away truly inspired.  I work in sales for Realityworks and keeping a pipeline of customers is essential for company survival.  Inspiration comes from seeing students become successful in life as a result of our products.

NC WORKS is not really focused on just finding jobs for people, but that is a GOOD thing.  They are focused on preparing people for well-paying careers and they have a great plan in place.  The pipeline starts with Career and Technical Education Directors looking at middle school, where kids explore careers suited to their intellect, their interest and their lifestyles.  That pipeline extends to high school, where students begin to make career choices, such as healthcare, or welding, or electrical trades, for instance.

Students choose a life career pathway that leads them to a certification, such as Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).  But, the NC WORKS group does not want the student to stop there.  They want the student to get that certification as a step into post-secondary, where the community college might take the student from CNA into an allied health field, such as respiratory therapy.

The goal is to get a student highly skilled so that they can best support themselves (salary) in their communities. That salary amount depends on where they choose to live, such as the higher end for areas like Charlotte and maybe less for more rural areas.

The bottom line here is the planning that goes into making sure we are pointing students toward careers that will allow them to live and prosper, create and support their families and be productive citizens.

The good news is that the products that my company is offering align directly in the pathways laid out by the NC WORKS commission.  Our products allow students to experience workplace skills, such as geriatric nursing, welding or electrical trades in a safe environment and allows a student to find out early if they are well-suited for this line of profession.  That makes me feel good.

This is a big charge to take on especially with and this month’s proposed Presidential Budget.  It is aimed at cutting Career and Technical Education funding by a national average of 15%, this certainly won’t help this initiative.  In North Carolina alone, according to ACTE, the state could lose 28% of federal funding under the President’s proposed budget.

Let’s hope they keep working on that budget and keep education in focus.

Welding Training Technology Sparks Skill Development and Cost Savings at Iowa High School

Administrators at Harlan Community High School (HCHS) in Harlan, IA understand the importance of technology in the education of 21st Century students – they’ve been using virtual reality welding simulators for years to help ag students explore the field of welding while developing basic skills and techniques. Their advanced technology helps teach students how to weld, keeps students engaged and saves money.

A Cost-Effective Solution

“For us, it’s not only about technology, but it’s about saving costs,” said HCHS Agriculture Education Teacher Dan Leinen. “You don’t need to purchase metal and rods and wire, yet it simulates welding.”

According to Leinen, one of the most notable benefits of the easy-to-use simulators is their  ability to introduce students safely and effectively to the art of welding.

“Unlike real welding equipment, no one is afraid of a video game – they’re just going to go for it,” said Leinen. “The anxiety of going out and welding for the first time is totally gone. That’s something I can’t teach.”

Funding the Simulators with Local Support

After experiencing Realityworks’ welding solutions and seeing the advantages of such technology in the classroom firsthand, the administration began raising funds to purchase additional machines. A variety of resources were used to help the school acquire the  simulators they now own, including funds from a federal Carl D. Perkins Career and  Technical Education Act grant and donations from the local Future Farmers of America chapter and local businesses. Fundraising provided to be the most important part of the process, although Leinen said there was a specific reason why the school was able to raise money relatively easily: the welding simulators themselves.

According to Leinen, the school’s ability to bring potential donors into the classroom and experience the simulators firsthand had a significant impact on the businesses’ decision to donate funds.

“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.”

Now, the difference can be seen in how the students are learning and the feedback that the school has received from the entire community. According to Leinen, the school continually receives feedback from parents, business leaders and community members about the school’s advanced welding training technology. He plans to continue taking simulators to state conventions to encourage more schools to invest in their own.

“It’s a drop in the bucket when you look at the total, overall scheme of things,” said Leinen. “This is cutting-edge technology, and for a school district to use the same technology that  major companies use to train is really exciting.”

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