At Realityworks, ESOPs and Learning Go Hand-in-Hand

U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) stopped by Realityworks‘ Eau Claire, WI headquarters today to learn more about our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and take a tour of the facility. While here, he was able to learn about our many interactive training simulators and models and how they impact today’s students.

Engineering Manager Jeremiah Bauer helps U.S. Rep Ron Kind with a hands-on demonstration of Realityworks’ Bovine Breeder artificial insemination simulator.

He recently introduced the bipartisan Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act, which will encourage the formation of employee-owned businesses and promote retirement savings through S Corporation Employee Stock Ownership Plans (S-ESOPs). The bill was introduced with Representative Jason Smith (R-MO).

“I am proud to introduce this bill, which will empower companies to become employee-owned and give our workers more stake in the game. The evidence is clear that S-ESOPs help companies and workers alike grow faster and achieve a more secure financial future,” said Rep. Ron Kind.

S-ESOP companies employ over 29,000 Wisconsinites at 122 companies across the state. According to several recent studies, S-ESOPs provide a number of benefits to companies and workers alike, including an outperforming company growth rate, increased retirement security and decreased income inequality within the company.

Rep. Kind’s visit to our company allowed him to talk more with the company’s leadership and learn how ESOPs can benefit both the company and the employees who work for them. Realityworks converted to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan S-ESOP in 2012, which has allowed us to attract and retain talent while continuing to grow the company.

“Employees who own the businesses where they work have a share in the wealth they help create, and that connection makes companies stronger, more stable, and more rooted in their communities. The legislation proposed by Rep. Kind will expand ownership opportunities like we have in place at Realityworks to even more of the U.S. workforce,” said Mary Boettcher, CFO – Realityworks and Board Chair for the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO).

“This bill is important legislation to support the creation of more ESOPs. ESOPs create additional retirement security for those working as employee owners at ESOP companies. At Realityworks, being employee-owned means you are engaged in the company success. You benefit from Company growth and value your work at a different level. About 50% of our employee body has been with the company over 5 years, well over national average. Retention is a key to our success and our ESOP is a big contributor to that,” said Timm Boettcher, President and CEO – Realityworks.

Blood Pressure Simulator by Realityworks, Inc., named EdTech Award 2019 Finalist

Nursing training tool recognized in national competition for its unique impact on healthcare education

We’re proud to announce that our one-of-a-kind Blood Pressure Simulator has been named an EdTech Award 2019 finalist. The US-based award program is the largest and most competitive recognition program in the education technology sector; it recognized our Blood Pressure Simulator for the unique ways the tool engages and assesses students as they learn how to take blood pressure before assisting real patients.

“We’re honored to have been named as an EdTech Award finalist for one of our internally developed products, “ said Timm Boettcher, Realityworks President & CEO. “Today’s Career and Technical Education instructors are working harder than ever to ensure their students graduate with skills they can use to succeed in high-demand fields such as nursing. Tools like our Blood Pressure Simulator offer realistic learning opportunities that allow students to explore careers and develop real-world knowledge.”

Taking a patient’s blood pressure is a common aspect of any doctor’s office visit, and a vital skill that all aspiring nurses and many other healthcare workers need. Our Blood Pressure Simulator differs from other blood pressure training tools by offering students more realistic opportunities to practice the proper techniques for taking blood pressure prior to actual clinical experience. Students can select from pre-programmed testing scenarios or use the simulator to generate random testing scenarios as they listen for blood pressure and Korotkoff phases on standardized patients or manikins. Instructors can use the simulator’s audio feature to listen and assess.

The EdTech Awards were established in 2010 to recognize the most exceptional innovators, leaders and trendsetters in education technology. This year’s finalists and winners were judged based on criteria including pedagogical workability, efficacy and results, support, clarity, value and potential. More information can be found at https://edtechdigest.com.

Our Blood Pressure Simulator is part of a line of health science training tools developed to engage today’s students in high-demand healthcare fields, train them on various nursing procedures and help them develop key soft skills. We continue to look for other product development opportunities in areas with a skills gap to engage today’s students in needed career fields.

For more information on Realityworks’ products and programs, visit realityworks.com.

10 Ways to Use Our Portable Workstations in Your Classroom or Shop

The importance of storage space in CTE classrooms and shops cannot be understated. After all, the more organized you are, the better you can manage your classroom and keep your students safe, on task and productive. Yet teachers constantly tell us that they don’t have enough storage space in their classrooms – and much of the time, the storage solutions that are in place take up valuable work space.

That’s why we created our Portable Workstations. These sturdy carts feature locking wheels, three drawers (one of which locks), plus a rugged, grated worksurface that is tough and durable.

Roll this mobile welding workstation into any area of your classroom or workshop to:

  1. Store tools and Personal Protective Equipment
  2. Complete woodworking, metalworking or small engine repair projects
  3. Keep your favorite tools close at hand, and safely locked up when not in use
  4. Work with up to 500 pounds of materials
  5. Safely store gas cylinders for even the largest welders and projects
  6. Protect your equipment from slag and grinding dust
  7. Work on welding projects by incorporating the removable welding curtain that comes with the cart
  8. Demonstrate techniques and best practices from a point of view that all students can effectively observe
  9. Store projects and extra scraps
  10. Set up a portable welding workspace or learning station anywhere

Learn more about our Portable Workstation from the Realityworks team member who helped develop them, Mechanical Engineer Mike Zaborowski:

5 Takeaways from “Why VR Works: A Panel Discussion”

We recently hosted a panel discussion about why virtual reality welding works for today’s CTE students. Featuring Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks Support Specialist and guideWELD® trainer Chris Potapenko and Arizona welding instructor Kenton Webb, the webinar featured candid conversations about how instructors across the country are implementing this technology into their programs and using it to engage students, foster skill development, boost confidence and save money.

Below are excerpts from the live presentation (watch the complete recording here).

1. It’s a great tool to use with beginning classes

“I’ve found it best to start off with my beginning level classes where a lot of those kids have never welded before so they don’t know the difference in between live and virtual. It’s definitely helped them as they’ve started off with something harder and then when they get out into the shop it’s a lot easier for them when it comes to the live application of it. It also helps them build their confidence. Sometimes welding equipment is terrifying to kids and they’re scared of the sparks and the heat and the fire.”
– Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ

“It’s a great tool and utility to bring in new students to get them started with the basics of welding. It eliminates some of the fear factors that go into getting them out on the real machine where they’re dealing with the heat, the sparks, the fumes. It’s a great resource to have in that safe classroom environment, it’s going to teach them all of the core functions of welding and give them that immediate feedback as well that they’re looking for.”
– Chris Potapenko, Realityworks Support Specialist and certified guideWELD® trainer

2. The guideWELD® VR welding simulator by Realityworks comes with WPS’s (Welding Procedure Specifications) and the ability to make your own WPS’s, to gear it towards your own curriculum.

“I’ve created 9 separate WPS’s that the students have to go through and hit at an 80% or higher before they can move on to the next WPS,” said Webb. “Once they’ve finished and hit that mark in the classroom then I also have the guideWELD Live and they go out and use those with the actual hands-on weld.”
– Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ

“Being able to create your own welds that your community might be doing. We have schools that say, ‘just down the road we have welding jobs open, I want my students to be able to get those welding jobs, and I want my students to be able to practice those kinds of welds.’ They can put into guideWELD VR the exact parameters that they need to do. It ties in that career interest.”
– Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager

3. Virtual welding can improve learning for students

“Because they do get immediate feedback and they can actually see what they’re doing wrong immediately as they’re going through the weld that definitely helps them. Even with my special education students, it gives them more feedback that they need and gets them more comfortable using it before they go out and use the real thing. It covers your basic work angles, travel angles, distance and all of that so when I’m using that terminology out in the shop it’s not going over their head because they’ve been introduced to it.”
– Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ

4. Virtual welding can save your program money, and guideWELD VR will help prove how much you are saving

“I was able to go and figure out, ok this is what I would pay for the steel, if I was doing these joints this is what it would cost per joint. So, I was able to see, each class by the time they were done with the 9 modules, and it counts every attempt that they do whether they pass it or fail it, so there were some of my classes that if they were out in the shop they would have burned through $800 worth of material and that’s not even including the gas and wire, nozzles and tips that they would have burned through learning how to do it on the live thing. It definitely helps educators justify the cost for it, in terms of down the road this is saving us money and for some of those programs that don’t have funding for unlimited metals and stuff like that it gives them a little more time to start them off in the class but then still not worry about running through all of their material before the end of the year.”
– Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ

5. Students love the gaming aspect of virtual welding

“With kids being more tech savvy and gamer savvy, they really do enjoy doing it because they are coming to school to play a game so you are getting a little bit more buy in and interest as well. Another thing I noticed is some of them will turn it into a competition where they see one kid get a 95 then the other kids are ‘oh I can do better’ and they are going back for more and trying to beat each other with a little competition.”
– Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ

These responses were extracted from our webinar, “Why VR Works: A Panel Discussion,” which can be found here or viewed below. This discussion was facilitated by Kenton Webb, welding instructor from Marana High School, Tucsun, AZ; Jamey McIntosh, product manager for Realityworks; and Chris Potapenko, technology support specialist for Realityworks.

RealCare Baby’s Unique Care Schedule

By Nate Schlieve, Realityworks Product Support Technician

When programming RealCare Baby for a simulation do you ever wonder what the five numbers under “Schedule Order” mean?

RealCare Babies are pre-programmed with 15 different care schedules. The 5 numbers in the schedule order correspond to the numbers found on your care schedule table which can be found in your program materials, on our website, or on the link here. The care schedule table indicates how much time will be spent caring for the Baby during each hour of a schedule. It will not tell you what care event will be requested or at what time care will be needed, and it will not indicate how long the care event will last.

Below is an example of Schedule 1 found on the Care Schedule Table. As you will see the Baby does not need any care during the 2:00pm and 3:00pm hours, but at 11:00pm most of the hour will be spent caring for the Baby.

Baby will switch to a new schedule at 6:00am the follow morning. You can use the chart to get a sense of how busy a participant’s simulation will be. You can also use the chart to select schedules you feel are appropriate for your participant.

Check out the video below for more great tips on getting started with RealCare Baby.

Honored to Receive 2019 Florida Career Pathways Award

We are excited to announce that we were presented with the 2019 Florida Career Pathways Best Practice Award during the 2019 Florida Career Pathways Network Symposium in Jensen Beach, FL on January 17. The award recognized our prioritization of educator and administrator partnerships to ensure the company’s training tools meet student needs while teaching in-demand job skills.

“We’re dedicated to creating innovative learning tools that keep today’s students and teachers in mind, and our product development practices reflect that dedication,” said Realityworks Product Marketing Manager Jamey McIntosh, who accepted the award from Florida Career Pathways Network President Chris Jargo. “It is by asking teachers what they need that we create quality training tools for their classrooms.”

McIntosh gave symposium attendees deeper insight into Realityworks’ product development practices in his symposium presentation, “Using Hands-On Learning Aids and Simulation to Teach Animal Science for Agriculture Education.” The presentation detailed how Realityworks uses instructor feedback and research-based learning to create training tools that focus on career readiness within growing fields like agriculture, the single largest employer in the world. As a result, the company’s training tools include one-a-kind products like the Bovine Breeder™ artificial insemination simulator and the Bovine Injection Simulator, which provide instructors with affordable, convenient and engaging ways to teach students key agriculture skills.

“Educators have shared with us their desire for interactive, memorable products that focus on skill development while improving classroom management,” said McIntosh. “Their insight helps ensure that our programs remain relevant and continue providing the targeted learning opportunities today’s students need to develop job skills.”

For more information on Realityworks’ products and programs, visit http://realityworks.com/. You can also watch the recording from McIntosh’s “Using Hands-On Learning Aids and Simulation to Teach Animal Science for Agriculture Education” webinar below:

What in the world is an Xstick?

By Nate Schlieve, Realityworks Product Support Technician

Did you know that the Xstick is not a memory stick?

xstickIts technical name is the Xstick Wireless Communication Adapter, and even though the Xstick looks like a memory stick it is actually a communication device. This device sends and receives data between the Control Center and RealCare Babies.

The Xstick does not contain any software for you to install. In order for it to function, you will need to first install the Control Center software from our website. Click here to go directly to the RealCare Baby support page. Once there you can click on the box for either Windows or Mac to install the Control Center.

For more information on getting started with RealCare Baby, take some time to watch the support video below!

10 Ways Our Adult Nursing Manikin Can Help Your Students Develop Targeted Healthcare Skills

The more useful the training tool, the faster you can get to the business of good patient care – teaching it, practicing it and eventually, seeing your students use it to assist real people. That’s why we’re excited to announce a medium-fidelity nursing manikin that not only enables students to practice over 20 basic care functions, but teaches first aid, too.

Our Adult Nursing Manikin is such a robust training tool, in fact, that we decided to share the top 10 ways health occupations, allied health and nursing programs can use it to help their students develop targeted healthcare skills.

You can use our Adult Nursing Manikin to:

Use the CPR Simulator to get technique feedback
  1. Practice CPR with a simulator that meets the American Heart Association’s 2019 CPR and ECC guidelines: It includes a feedback device that provides directed, specific, real-time coaching feedback on the rate and depth of chest compression.
  2. Practice assessing, treating and caring for Stage 1 and 2 pressure injuries
  3. Practice both colostomy and ileostomy care, including bag cleaning and changing
  4. Practice basic intravenous insertion and medication administration, basic intramuscular injection and venipuncture procedures on a training arm that features realistic vein penetration and blood flashback (and comes with our unique FAST-fluid™ management system)
  5. Practice urethral catheter insertion on (interchangeable) male and female genitalia
  6. Practice nasogastric insertion, suctioning and care
  7. Practice oxygenation
  8. Practice patient transfer, handling and positioning on a life-size adult manikin
  9. Practice conducting range-of-motion exercises
  10. Teach 10 comprehensive lessons on patient care topics that include bathing, range of motion, pressure injuries, ostomy care and catheterization
  11. BONUS: Teach injury and trauma care by transforming this medical manikin into a trauma manikin with our 43-piece Trauma Moulage Kit

Learn more about our Adult Nursing Manikin or request a personalized quote by clicking here.

3 Lessons We’ve Learned from Helping Instructors Implement Virtual Reality Welding Simulators

By Emily Kuhn, Realityworks Communications Specialist

We created the guideWELD® VR welding simulator to give instructors an inexpensive yet effective way to engage students in welding career exploration and train them on the fundamentals of welding. We know demand for skilled welders is growing, and tools like these help students develop the basic skills they need to succeed in related careers. Five years later, we’ve visited welding classrooms and shops from Arizona to Alaska, helping CTE instructors implement virtual reality welding simulators in their programs. Along the way, we’ve learned a few key lessons:

Competition works.

Students and instructors alike have shared the fun they’ve had trying to beat their peer’s scores on the guideWELD VR welding simulators, which assess users on their work angle, travel angle, speed, nozzle-to-plate distance and straightness, then provide a cumulative score.

Rodian Manjarres was a high school welding student at J. Harley Bonds Career Center in Greer, SC when we caught up with her at a National SkillsUSA competition. She told us of her own guideWELD VR use, “We were all trying to beat each other’s scores and kept taking more turns. Everyone was really excited about it.”

High school welding student Rodian Manjarres using guideWELD® VR welding simulator while practicing for her National SkillsUSA competition.

In fact, the simulators’ competitive aspect was a particular benefit to this female welder.

“I liked it a lot because I could beat the guys at it,” said Manjarres. “There are only a few of us that can get the gun to turn gold.”

Instructors have found that competition encourages students to continue enhancing their form and technique and build muscle memory. And the more students use this training tool, the more developed their welding technique becomes.

“Cool tools” can impact fundraising efforts.

We’ve spoken to several ingenious instructors who bring their guideWELD VR units to open houses and other community events. The simulators grab attendees’ attention, helps them understand what students are learning and help generate support for their classrooms.

Dan Leinen uses the simulators in his agriculture classes at Harlan Community High School in Harlan, IA. He told us of one event where letting a community member try the simulator directly impact that individual’s willingness to donate to his ag program.

An Iowa welding student uses the guideWELD VR welding simulator.

“This particular company owner had an FFA background but had never welded,” said Leinen. “He sat down and tried the simulator and almost instantly committed to donating funds.”

guideWELD VR is portable, and its virtual nature means there is no gas, ventilation or sparks to worry about. By showing the community what you’re doing in your classroom, they see what they could be supporting.

Technology is attractive.

Recruitment might be one of the most common ways we hear guideWELD VR being used. The tool’s video game-like environment appeals to today’s technology-driven students, and the lack of sparks calms common welding fears. And in regions where students aren’t coming from farms or other environments where welding is the norm, instructors enjoy having a safe way to introduce the skill to new users.

John Paulus uses the simulators in the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Mobile Manufacturing Lab. The lab travels to various locations across Western Wisconsin to provide middle- and high-school students with manufacturing career exploration opportunities.

The CVTC Mobile Manufacturing Lab offers students the opportunity to receive hands-on, real-life training in manufacturing careers using tools like the guideWELD VR welding simulator.

“A lot of these kids have never touched a welder or turned a lathe in their life,” said Paulus. “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.”

Ready to learn more about the guideWELD VR welding simulator?

  • Get implementation tools and use ideas here.
  • Find out how you can save on guideWELD VR here.
  • Watch our free webinar, “Explore Welding Career Pathways with Hands-On Training Methods” here

5 Great Ways to Bring Soft Skills into the CTE Classroom

Soft skills, employability skills, people skills… however you refer to them, soft skills are critical to career success. Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge.

So how can we ensure that skills are being taught in every CTE class?

Realityworks created its own program: the RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program. Through our research, talking with educators and confirming information with business owners, we found a lot of great ways to not only engage students in this topic but to help them carry these skills on in life.

We know that adding additional topics to your curriculum can be scary. We also know educators do not have a lot of time and sometimes are unsure how to start incorporating this topic into their program.

Use the 5 ideas below to incorporate soft skill development into your classroom without stress.

Keep in mind, these ideas could work for different CTE areas, including engineering, nursing, Family and Consumer Sciences, welding and business. The goal is to start addressing these skills in your classroom!

  1. Create Conversation Cards. Write a variety of conversation topics onto note cards: “Describe the last book you read,” “Discuss the previous assignment and how you handled the questions,” or “What do you want to do after high school?” Then take 5 minutes of each class to pair students up with one conversation card and have them discuss the topic. Use this activity to teach communication skills and show your students how to converse with their peers.

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Make your cards about topics in class or make them generic!

  1. Bring in guest speakers. Ask community members in your area of education to speak to the class on soft skills topics. Recommended questions include: “What soft skills are important to your profession?” “What soft skills have you used in the last week at work?” “How can working on soft skills get me a job?”

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Invite someone in that has a career your students might want someday.

  1. Take time to reflect. If you are working on specific soft skills, make sure you give students a few minutes at the end of class to write about what went well, what could be improved on and what they noticed. For example, if they are working in a group, they are developing the ability to work on a team. Have them reflect on what it is like working in a team. If they just presented on a topic to their classmates, have them reflect on how they felt presenting, what could have made the presentation go better and what they did right.

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Reflection time is working on critical thinking – one of the big soft skills needed in today’s workplace.

  1. Create responsibility in the classroom. This could mean:
    1. Having students use day planners to help with time management (encourage blocking time for homework)
    2. Having students take care of a plant for the semester – plant it, water it, feed it and care for it. While simple, this is great for responsibility!

Great for: ANY PATHWAY! No matter what class you teach, your students need to show up on time, prepared and ready to listen and participate in class. These are all soft skills.

  1. Get the RealCareer Employability Skills Program. This program is filled with activities that hit on the KEY soft skills needed to succeed. It includes a full curriculum, workbooks, scenario cards and presentation slides. This out-of-the-box program makes it SIMPLE to incorporate soft skills in ANY CTE pathway.

We have also recently added pathway/occupation-specific workplace scenario cards for Agriculture, Child Care, Culinary, Geriatrics, Nursing and Welding careers.

We’re also excited to be celebrating CTE month. Make sure you click here to download our free CTE infographic today!