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 Employee Spotlight: May Edition

Meet Casey Kooiman, Realityworks’ International Business Consultant

Casey Kooiman was born and raised in Wisconsin Dells and later moved to Hammond, WI, at the age of 12. She spent seven years in Washington, DC, where she studied at American University and later worked as an International Market Specialist in the automotive industry. Casey’s fondest memory of DC life was when she worked in the media department for the Washington Capitals.

“I attended all of their home games and would get to go to the locker rooms after the games to interview some of the best players in the league,” she explained.

As a self-proclaimed Midwesterner, Casey moved back to Wisconsin in 2012. She lived in Milwaukee for three years before relocating to Eau Claire for her position with Realityworks.

“I handle just about everything pertaining to selling our products abroad whether it be working with our many distributors, lead generation, researching new markets, etc.” she said.

Working with our international distributors is her favorite part of working with Realityworks, Casey explained, because they are all incredibly unique.
“We have our small, mom-and-pop type shops like Virtual Parenting (Australia) and Babybedenkzeit (Germany) to our larger partners like Camera Mundi (Puerto Rico) and Studica (Canada & Nordic),” said Casey. “I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with them on a regular basis, whether it is via Skype or in-person.”

Casey has found the international travel to be the most interesting part of her job.

“I can’t get enough! For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a passion for learning about and experiencing new cultures, particularly when it comes to cultural differences in how one does business,” Casey explained. “I’m always reading The Economist for world news updates, asking our distributors and international friends about their perspective on world events, and of course immersing myself in the culture when I do have the opportunity to travel.”

As for a favorite Realityworks product, Casey’s is RealCare Baby.

“When I explain where I work to family, friends (both domestic and international), and business contacts, they may not always know the name Realityworks, but they almost always know about RealCare Baby,” she explained. “RealCare Baby is where the company began, it provides a great segue to explaining our mission and it is darn cute too!”

Another Step Toward a Skilled Workforce: House Introduces Legislation to Strengthen CTE

By Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc.

2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

The U.S. is on a path towards realizing how important Career and Technical Education (CTE) is in this country, and a big step forward on that journey was taken yesterday. On Thursday, May 4th, a bill to update the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was introduced in the House of Representatives. Introduced by Representative Glenn Thompson ( R-PA) and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), the bill, among other things, gives states more control over how to spend Perkins funding.

It is brilliant step by our legislators to ensure that our schools have the right structure and tools to teach today’s students about career opportunities that are vital to our economy, and ensure ensure they have the skills they need to succeed in the workforce.

This bill, which differs slightly from the one that Representative Thompson and Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced in Congress last July, seeks to reform several aspects of the Perkins Act to reflect the challenges facing students and workers today. Highlights of the bill include improved alignment between education and workforce development laws, which will drive program congruence. It also simplifies the process through which educators can access CTE funding by lessening bureaucratic requirements and expanding state control.

Funding for CTE programs helps students like these Altoona, WI middle schoolers, pictured with Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Realityworks President & CEO Timm Boettcher at the Altoona School District Fab Lab, learn industry-needed skills like coding and robotics.

I applaud the educators, business leaders, legislators and industry representatives who have worked so hard to maintain focus on strengthening CTE in our country. Without their efforts and the efforts of CTE advocates across the country, our schools would not be able to equip students with the academic, technical and job-related skills they need to succeed and keep our country’s workforce competitive.

It is spectacular to see those efforts coming to fruition, and I look forward to seeing how this bill unfolds as the House Committee on Education and the Workforce considers this legislation in the upcoming weeks. I would encourage it to not only pass but expand in scope as the need is strong to keep America great.

More information on the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act can be found here.

In addition to being the President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc., Timmothy Boettcher chairs the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition (IWNC), serves on the Board of Directors for Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and chairs the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board. Timm also invests energy into fostering entrepreneurial and innovation in leadership roles on the University Wisconsin – Stout Discovery Center Board, Innovation Foundation of Western Wisconsin, and EdNET Advisory Board. In recognition for his efforts, Timm was chosen as the 2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year. Timm has presented workforce development strategies on several national levels Harvard’s Pathway’s to Prosperity and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Expanding Programs for the Health Sciences Pathways

Realityworks is very excited to be expanding our programs for the Health Sciences pathways in 2017. With the need for healthcare workers expanding, the need for engaging, hands-on training will increase as well. Per a report released by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020 the need for healthcare workers will grow by 5.6 million. With this, post-secondary education for these jobs will also grow.

Our products provide comprehensive learning solutions that pair curriculum with interactive learning aids, student activities and assessment tools to create innovative learning environments. We focused our Health Sciences products on bringing educators practical, hands-on skill development opportunities using realistic and affordable training tools.

New product areas include:
Injections
Phlebotomy
Blood pressure
Catheterization
Wound care
Patient Care Skills
AND more!

We invite you to learn more about these great products be downloading our 2017 Health Science catalog here!

From Chicken Legs to Life Skills: What I’ve Learned from Ag Education

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

I learn something new every day. But what I learned this week reminded me of an old Bob Hope joke (remember who he was?)

Bob Hope once judged the mini-skirted fashion model Twiggy when he said “Give her an inch and she’ll make a skirt out of it.”

Today, I learned from an Ag Education teacher that you judge chickens, namely hens, by their legs – or rather, the whiteness of their legs. The whiter the legs, the more “seasoned” the hen, and the more eggs she will produce.

This is something useful to me, not just because I work for a company that sells experiential learning aids for agriculture education, but because I am learning how valuable Ag Education really is, whether or not students ever become farmers or teachers – because I am a consumer of food.

It’s kind of like when I learned how to drive in driver’s ed. I never had an intention of becoming a professional driver, but I needed to learn to drive in order to find work, food, or just see the countryside.

Ag Education teaches kids the importance of producing quality food, distinguishing what is healthy and what is marketing on labels. It teaches kids how to grow food in water, fertilized by fish waste. It teaches kids how to mend a fence or a tractor by welding. Life skills is really a central theme of Ag Education. Kids learn how to do just about everything around the home or farm, but it also allows them to decide what they will be best suited to do in life. And, like most of us, they won’t be doing the same thing their entire lives. When life throws a curve, they’ll have other skills to fall back upon.

Oh, and another thing, just to set the record straight: Chickens lay eggs with the large side out first, not the small. I learned that from our Chicken Model.

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.

Welding Pays Off: The Importance of “Upskilling” in Today’s Welding Education Programs

By Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager

Every April, educators, students and business leaders come together to bring awareness to and speak about the value of welding. National Welding Month is an annual celebration and recognition of welding’s impact on our world and the important role it plays in our everyday lives. Now is the perfect time to consider just how important it is that our welding students have the skills they need to succeed.

The demand for skilled welders is growing. The American Welding Society predicts a need of almost 200,000 welders in the United States by 2020, while the Manufacturing Institute has stated that in the next decade alone, there will be a need for nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs.

To ensure the welding industry is prepared to meet this demand, today’s welding educators and instructors must make certain that their programs and training methods are equipping today’s young people with the skills employers are looking for. And, in a workforce that will increasingly require those who are agile, adaptable and highly qualified, “upskilling” students above and beyond the fundamentals of welding will only make them more employable in a competitive, high-demand industry.

Skills pay off

With an oversupply of entry-level welders and a growing number of skilled welders ready to retire, welding and manufacturing companies are paying more and more attention to welding codes and qualification standards. This means welders who are certified, or who are able to examine and test their own welds, are more attractive than ever before – and their pay reflects that attraction. According to the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International’s “2013 Salary/Wage & Benefit Survey,” a welder who is certified to AWS, ASME and other codes has the broadest salary range of any shop floor position, up to $83,000 for a base salary, not including overtime and bonuses.

While having basic welding skills can certainly pay off, other skill sets can also pay large dividends. Figure 1 depicts the many paths one can take when considering a welding-related career. For instance, the chart shows the average pay for a welding supervisor and a manufacturing production supervisor. With reported average pay ranges around $12,000 higher than an average welder, these highly skilled positions are rewarded with higher pay.

When speaking with various workforce development boards and companies within the welding industry, it’s not uncommon to hear welding and manufacturing industry representatives say that they routinely pay more per hour for employees who can visually inspect welds and supervise others in the creation of quality welds over those who could simply create the quality welds.

Barring geography, experience, skill level and employer, the message is clear: By focusing on basic skill development and the development of additional career-specific skills such as weld testing and qualification, educators and trainers are opening the doors to higher pay, more benefits and in the long run, more successful careers.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of “Welding Productivity.” Click here to view the article in its entirety.

Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome One Demonstration at a Time

by Kati Stacy

Around 2005, Kathy Lopez-Bushnell, APRN, EdD, MPH, MSN, Director of ClinicalNursing Research at University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH), was in a meeting when a community member approached her and said they had a terrible problem.

“She said that we’re not taking care of the families of shaken baby victims,” said Lopez-Bushnell. “So she and I and the CEO and other execs met and she told her story.”

This community member, who represented families going through the legal systemregarding Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) cases, explained that New Mexico had one of the highest rates of SBS and child abuse death in the country.

“After listening to her story, the execs saw there was a problem and they turned to me and said, go fix it,” Lopez-Bushnell shared.

After researching literature, Lopez-Bushnell found a program in New York state, headed by Mark S. Dias, MD, FAAP. The premise of Dias’ program was that parents who were taught about SBS immediately after their babies were born, when parent-child bonding is very strong, would be less likely to shake their baby. Dias’ program also recognized the effectiveness that these parents could have on disseminating SBS information to others who might be in the position of caring for their child. Dias’ program was so successful that it cut the rates of SBS in the eight-county region of western New York in half.

“I called him and told him we’d like to replicate his study,” said Lopez-Bushnell. “He couldn’t have been more helpful. He sent us volumes of information and we recreated his study here.”

In 2010, UNMH began a program modeled on this study. In 2012, they began using the RealCare™ Shaken Baby simulator by Realityworks®, Inc., with the educational program that was already in place.

UNMH Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention and Awareness Program

UNMH’s Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention and Awareness Program (SBSPAP) has four main goals:

  1. to provide educational materials about SBS to the parents of newborn infants
  2. to assess parents’ comprehension of the dangers of violent infant shaking
  3. to track penetration of the program through the collection of returned commitment statements (CS); and
  4. to evaluate the program’s effect on the incidence of SBS.

They work to accomplish this by teaching families of newborns as well as families with infants who come into the ICU for various reasons.

“We’re a Level II unit in ICU, so we take babies who are usually sick,” said Erika Cole, RN, BSN, RNC-LRN, ICN Unit Director at UNMH. “Upon admission to the unit, we start discharge teaching right away. One of the key pieces that we touch with every parent is the prevention of SBS using the Shaken Baby simulator.”

The program incorporates several tools during this education process. A handout gives tips about how to cope with infant crying and stats about what SBS is, etc. Nurses are given training on how to speak with parents and caregivers about how babies cry, that it’s okay if they cry and giving parents the okay to put them down and walk away if the need to. When Babies Cry, a video which comes with the Shaken Baby simulator, is shown. Finally, there is a demonstration with the Shaken Baby simulator to dramatically depict how easy it is to cause damage to an infant and what harm can potentially occur. From January 2016 to August 2016, 786 parents have participated in UNMH’s program.

The Shaken Baby simulator looks, feels and sounds like a real infant, with the exception of its clear head, which is equipped with LED lights. When shaken, the lights illuminate areas of the brain that have been damaged by the shaking event. “It’s a hard topic to discuss, and many parents might think, ‘Who doesn’t know not to shake a baby,’” said Cole. “But surprisingly 1 out of 6 parents we’ve talked with say that this was the first time they heard that [shaking a baby] was dangerous.”

Seven months later the families are called and asked what they remember of this education. According to Deisree Torrez, mathematician and research volunteer with the program, most parents remember working with the simulator.

One story that sticks out the most is a conversation she had with a Dad who called back.

“He said, ‘I remember the doll the most,’” Desiree Torrez recounted. “He continued, stating ‘whenever my baby cries and I start to get frustrated, I just remember you guys making me shake that doll and I know it’s time to put my kid down. I just don’t want to do that to my child.’”

The program has recently expanded its efforts to prevent child abuse by incorporating 30 additional Shaken Baby simulators into their program. Created by Realityworks, Inc., these electronic simulators have helped the hospital significantly reduce rates of Shaken Baby Syndrome since they were first implemented in 2012.

“There is a substantial amount of child abuse in NM, and a need for education as a potential preventative measure, given the significant morbidity and mortality in our state,” said Christopher Torrez, MD, Pediatric Resident Physician, PGY 3 at UNMH . “The doll leaves a lasting impression on our parents. Often, when we complete the 7-month follow-up, one of the things they remember the most is interacting with the doll.”

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt of a larger testimonial about the UNMH Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention and Awareness Program. Click here to read the testimonial in its entirety.

Why Did RealCare Baby Shutdown?

By Nate Schlieve, Realityworks Product Support Technician

Did you know that there are four ways that RealCare Baby can turn off before its scheduled stop time? Ever look at your simulation report and see “______ Shutdown” and wondered what it means? The four different methods that can end a simulation early are: Abuse Shutdown, Battery Shutdown, Emergency Shutdown, Neglect Shutdown. Here is what causes the Baby to trigger each
specific shutdown.

Abuse Shutdown – Occurs when the Baby has been mishandled 24 times. That includes head supports, rough handling and shaken baby. Once Baby triggers 24 mishandle events the Baby will turn off.

Battery Shutdown – Battery level drained out enough to stop the simulation.

Emergency Shutdown – This occurs when the button that is above the red light is held down for 6 continuous chimes. This is manual, it will NEVER happen on its own.

Neglect Shutdown – If the Baby does not respond to an ID within 12 continuous hours it will turn itself off. So if the student gets the wrong ID, of the ID does not get programmed, it will turn off in 12 hours.

Visit our RealCare Baby Product Support page for videos, guides, FAQs and troubleshooting tips!

Calling All FACS Educators: Help NASAFACS Review National Family & Consumer Science Standards

By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV and National Family and Consumer Education Standards Review Member

Do you teach Family & Consumer Sciences at the high school or college level? Are you an industry representative or business leader with an interest in Family and Consumer Sciences programs in your community? The National Association of State of Administrators of Family and Consumer Sciences (NASAFACS) needs your help!

NASAFACS is seeking FACS educators and stakeholders from secondary education, post-secondary education, and business and industry to help review the final draft of the Family and Consumer Sciences National Standards 3.0.

The Family and Consumer Sciences Education National Standards form a comprehensive structure designed to accommodate varying state philosophies and issues related to standards and delivery systems. FACS, like other disciplines, is concerned with the integration of academic knowledge and achievement in a contextual approach. Your efforts will help ensure that these standards meet current and projected industry needs.

Want to help? Take 10-15 minutes to review the final draft of the standards by clicking here. Remember to consider the area of study, industry needs for this area, and pedagogy.

The more people who complete the survey, the better the results will be. Feel free to share this message and survey link with colleagues who are qualified to review them as well.

Diane holds a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Marshall University in Huntington, WV. She has been with Realityworks for more than 3 years and has been instrumental in assisting educators with implementing educational solutions that make a difference in students’ lives. She was selected to join nine other reviewers from across the country to participate in the Family and Consumer Sciences National Standards 3.0 project.

Student Workbooks as an Effective Instructional Resource

Educators have debated the effectiveness of worksheets, handouts and workbooks for years.  Similar to technology use in the classroom, efficacy all depends on how they are used.  Here are a few nuggets to contemplate from a review of literature on the subject:

  • Graphic organizers help learners to understand tasks by nurturing active participation, decrease dependency on rote learning and memorization, tap into learners’ prior knowledge, and show association between concepts to build new understanding (Kirylo & Millet, 2000).
  • Worksheets help students to construct knowledge, help to assess students and get feedback, are used as supplemental material to textbooks in authentic lessons, and build scaffolding for  some teaching strategies (Demircioglu & Kaymakci, 2011).
  • Using Multiple Intelligences learning theory, teachers should vary instruction and assessment strategy because all students do not learn and exhibit learning the same way (Smith 2002, 2008) Howard Gardner and Multiple Intelligences.

We are happy to announce two new student workbooks now available as supplemental resources to the RealCare Baby Simulation Experience and the Pregnancy Profile Simulation.

The RealCare Baby Experience Workbook includes all handouts needed for the simulation experience. Rather than photocopying dozens of pages, it is all ready for use in this handy workbook. Graphic organizers, rubrics and quizzes are included. Students will also complete journal and self-assessment exercises to reflect on their learning.  The completed workbook is a great addition to student portfolios for highlighting this project.

The My Life Student Workbook is a companion product to the Pregnancy Profile simulation experience. Rather than photocopying and assembling these workbooks in class, you can use that valuable time to teach the key objectives. Many of the handouts involve setting goals, reflecting on what a teen pregnancy would do to those goals and journal on a wide variety of questions relating to the impact of an unplanned pregnancy. These exercises strengthen student writing and research skills. The completed workbook provides a meaningful take-home manual that students can keep and refer to.

Follow this link to learn more about these effective student workbooks and how you can use them in your program.