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.

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:

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!

5 Secrets to Engaging Today’s Generation Z Students

By Emily Kuhn, Realityworks Communications Specialist

Born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, Generation Z students have been occupying your classroom for 4-5 years already, and this year, they will make up 32 percent of the global population. You’ve probably noticed that there are some unique differences between today’s students and their Millennial predecessors, the oldest of whom have been in the workforce for more than a decade. Today’s students are even more tech-savvy; they can multi-task even faster and they have even shorter attention spans. Generation Z students read less than 20% of text; they think in 4D, not 3D; and they are used to immediate feedback. How do you engage learners who demand connection, who will disengage with the discussion if they don’t see the relevance, and who wish to not only hear about a topic, but see it, touch it and feel it?

Adapting your teaching methods to meet the needs of today’s Generation Z students and keep them engaged is not only vital to be an effective 21st Century educator, but can help transform your students’ education. We know that the standard classroom model, where an educator stands in front of the class and lectures, no longer works – at least, not all the time. In this post, we’ll share tips we’ve learned from educators across the globe that can help you grab, and keep, your students’ attention.

1: Avoid lengthy PowerPoint presentations. We know that avoiding PowerPoint altogether is impossible – there’s a time and a place for this presentation format. However, you can incorporate quizzes, activities and hands-on demonstrations every few slides to break up your students’ attention – and help keep it.

Get more PowerPoint tips in this blog by Concordia University – Portland.

2: Use multiple teaching modalities. Videos, online activities and group work are great additions to textbook work. The key here is variety, which will not only help keep the attention of your Generation Z students, but appeal to a variety of learning needs. 

Learn more about using video in the classroom in this Common Sense Education article.

3: Create an active learning environment by using innovative learning tools. Generation Z students’ desire for social, hands-on learning experiences make interactive simulators and models a vital part of 21st Century classrooms. Our simulators and models – which include resources for Welding & Trade Skills, Agriculture, FCS, Health Science, and Anatomy and Physiology – engage students with realistic details, removeable parts and, in the case of our simulators, truly immersive learning experiences.

See all the learning aids and resources we offer for Career & Technical Education here.

4: Remember that “why” is as important as “what.” Generation Z students need to know that what they’re learning is relevant. By answering the “why” question with evidence-based reasoning before teaching the “how,” you’ll assure them that the concept you’re about to teach applies to real life.

5: Incorporate soft skill development whenever possible. Your students will come to you with a varying degree of these skills, but you know all employers will look for them. Remember that collaborative work helps build communication skills; assignment tweaks and activity changes help build flexibility; open-ended questions help build problem-solving skills; and reflection activities help build critical thinking skills.

Need more help teaching soft skills in your classroom? Our Employability Skills Program can help.

You’re already working hard to equip your students with technical and academic skills. By creating an interactive, hands-on learning environment where Generation Z students can engage in active learning opportunities, you’re setting them up for even greater success.

Spring Webinar Schedule Announced

We’re excited to announce our spring webinar schedule!

Each fall and spring we offer a series of free webinars that revolve around the Career and Technical Education world. These sessions are presented by our product managers, product support team, and even some of our account managers get in on the fun.

If you see a webinar that you’re interested in, but can’t make the time or date, make sure to register for it anyways! We will send you a link to the recording along with any presentation materials once the webinar is complete.

Take a look at what we have planned for the spring so far:

Explore Welding Career Pathways with Hands-On Training Methods
Monday, January 21st @ Noon CST

Learn More

Meet the Realityworks Barnyard Animals
Thursday, February 7th @ 11 am CST

Learn More

Create an Interactive Health Science Program with Wearable Simulators
Tuesday, February 12th @ 11 am CST

Learn More 

The Ins and Outs: Using Simulation to Teach Bovine Artificial Insemination
Thursday, February 21st @ 2 pm CST

Learn More

Cool Tools for Teaching Transferable Child Care Career Skills
Thursday, February 28th @ 3 pm CST

Learn More

Enhance Agriculture Student Learning through Bovine Simulators
Tuesday, March 12th @ 11 am CST

Learn More

The Art of Scenarios: Using Real-World Scenarios to Teach Employability Skills
Wednesday, April 10th @ Noon CST

Learn More

Packing up RealCare Baby for Summer Vacation
Tuesday, April 23rd @ 3 pm CST

Learn More 

Learn more today by checking out our webinar page, and while you’re there make sure to check out the archived sessions we have available to you as well!

Sneak Peeks and Presentations Coming Your Way at VISION 2018

We’re getting excited to see everyone at  ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2018. This year we will be introducing new innovative learning tools as well as giving you a peek at products that will be coming in 2019. We’ve recently added new products to our Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Health Sciences pathways, including:

Bovine Breeder artificial insemination simulator with pregnancy palpation

Twin Pregnancy Model KitDiabetes Education Kit

Coming in 2019, Realityworks will be launching:

  • Bovine Injection
  • Child Care Center Design Kit
  • Cow Anatomy Flip Chart
  • Ostomy Trainer
  • New Anatomical models
  • and so much more!

Not only will we be giving attendees a sneak peek at new products, we will also be giving 6 presentations this year.

Make sure you stop by booth 723 and try out all of our interactive training tools for yourself!

Welding Implementation in the 21st Century

Skilled welders are more in demand than ever before. The American Welding Society estimates that by 2020 – just two years away – there will be a shortage of 290,000 professionals, including inspectors, engineers, welders and teachers.

For welding instructors and trainers, launching a new welding program, or reinventing a current one, can seem like a daunting task. There are a lot of questions to ask including what equipment will help students the most, and what curriculum is out there to help you get started.

We’ve used feedback from welding instructors across the country to develop the Welding Solutions Implementation Guide, which will help you to walk through all of these questions and more.

The four key areas that have been identified as key to the 21st Century Welding Classroom are:

1. Welding Simulation Lab

  • Explore careers, foundational learning, provide more arc time
  • A safe, cost-effective way to teach welding fundamentals

2. Live Welding Booths

  • Corrective guides, immediate feedback, classroom management
  • A one-of-a-kind solution for guidance inside the welding helmet during live welding

3. Visual Weld Inspection

  • Assessment and correction techniques, quality inspection
  • An instructional aid to teach weld defects and discontinuities

4. Destructive Weld Testing

  • Prepare for careers, self-assessment
  • Challenge students to test their own welds and determine what went wrong

By combining these four areas into a welding program, you can help set your students up for success. Click here for more information and to see the complete guide.

Bovine Breeder™ artificial insemination simulator helps North Dakota students learn

At least once a week, Rolla High School Agriculture Education Instructor William Fritz reminds his students that “no one has ever drowned in sweat.” Fritz favors the quote because it represents his belief in the value of hard work, a lesson he tries to teach his students at every opportunity.

That value is one of the reasons Fritz appreciates hands-on learning aids like Realityworks’ Bovine Breeder™ artificial insemination simulator – it enables his students to test their knowledge in a realistic, interactive way.

“My students all know – when I test or assess them, I’ll always try to make the experience as real-life as possible. These are careers we’re studying; real farmers actually do this, and I want them to understand what that means,” said Fritz. “Resources like this help, especially for kids who haven’t grown up on farms.”

The Bovine Breeder is a life-sized model designed to teach correct cervix manipulation, AI gun positioning and pregnancy palpation. It allows students to see inside the reproductive tract to identify reproductive system landmarks and helps them learn correct techniques for inserting and delivering semen. Fritz, who is the school’s FFA advisor as well as a member of the North Dakota Association for Career and Technical Education board, uses the Bovine Breeder in his Livestock Production classes. His ninth- through twelfth-grade students spend about four weeks reviewing the beef industry, and the unit culminates with the study of beef reproduction. At the end, his students’ final test is to perform artificial insemination on the Bovine Breeder.

“During the test, they cannot watch, since, in real life, you don’t get to see the inside,” said Fritz, referring to a feature of the simulator that makes reproductive system landmarks visible. “I make each student complete the process of AI while simultaneously asking them questions about the reproductive system of the cow. In order for them to get an A, they have to successfully move through the cervix.”

Click here to read the complete story!

Learn more about the Bovine Breeder artificial insemination simulator by checking out the intro video below:

5 Ways to Use Ag Models in Your Classroom

We’re hearing back from teachers around the country who are already implementing our animal models in their classrooms. Here are 5 ways to implement these models and engage your students through hands-on learning:

1. Anatomy Testing

Talk through and test students on the different parts of animal anatomy. Classroom idea: use post-it notes to have students label parts on the model.

2. System Identification

Show how the parts work together and how they interact with the different parts of the body. Classroom idea: take the organs out and walk through the process with students and then have them demonstrate it to you or each other.

3. Animal Care

Talk through different challenges that come up with caring for animals. Classroom idea: have students demonstrate dressings on hoofs and other kinds of animal care.

4. Meat Cut Identification

Show students where meat cuts are located on the muscle layer of the animal. Classroom idea: use an outline of the animal and have students draw out the different meat cuts based on what they learned on the model.

5. Disease Investigation

Discuss what the different diseases are that can affect animals, where they are identified on the animal’s body, and what symptoms they will show. Classroom idea: take out and open up the different organs and talk about how diseases can affect them.

For more ideas and information check out our animal models here and take a look at this webinar on Engaging Successful Learners Through Agriculture Education:

5 Interesting Facts – All About Agriculture

Ever wonder why it is so important to promote and teach agriculture to students in 2018? Here are 5 quick facts which help to clear up this question:

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 and check our National Teach Ag Day with NAAE!

Explore all of our hands-on training tools for Agriculture here.