The Growing Global Demand on Agriculture

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

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

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.

Take Notes by Hand for Deeper Processing

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

A young man who is close to me recently showed me his college report card, which indicated he had received an A in English. He was previously challenged in that subject, but has always excelled in math and science. I had warned him that without really good writing skills, his future as an engineer would suffer.

I asked him what was different this semester, and he told me that his teacher asked him to take notes by hand, rather than typing them on his computer. It turns out her advice to him is researched-based.

Researchers have found that taking notes on a computer results in “shallow processing.” This means that the student is not processing the information, but merely recording it. Handwriting, they say, allows the student to “listen, digest and summarize.”

Of course, by no means am I suggesting laptops be banned from schools. Many times, teachers use them as a tool to allow students to research information. Sometimes verbatim note-taking is appropriate, but for deep learning, the student needs time – the time it takes to write it down, to take in and retain the information.

Realityworks embraces this research and offers a “RealCare Baby Experience  Workbook” for students engaged in our RealCare Baby programs, as well a s a “My Life Workbook” for our Pregnancy Profile program.  This allows students to access all information inside the program, and to take notes, quizzes and essentially create a simple portfolio of learned activities.

Incorporating tools like workbooks into the classroom can help students reach that deeper level of understanding. As the study stated, “taking notes by hand forces the brain to engage in some heavy ‘mental lifting,'” and these efforts will foster comprehension and retention.

As we travel through the country this summer make sure to stop by and see us at the different conferences and conventions we’ll be at. We’d love to get your input and feedback!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

12 Eye-Opening Stats About Health Care Careers

Today’s health care students are unique.

They’re tech-savvy. They have short attention spans. They love to learn, but they are not afraid to ask “why?” – why are you teaching them this task, why are they practicing that concept, why are they studying this topic?

One way to answer those questions is to show your health care students just how in-demand health care careers are. Doing so will give them a better understanding of why the skills they are learning are so important.

This infographic contains 12 eye-opening statistics about health care careers. Download it today to give your students a daily reminder of the career opportunities you are preparing them for.

Learn more: Our latest webinar, Educating Students on Patient Care with Hands-On Learning Method, explores key patient care and sensitivity topics and reviews new ways to engage health care students with hands-on learning methods. 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.

When Fax Machines First Came on the Market

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

When fax machines first came on the market, a friend told me a story about one of her sales.  She had gone into an office and sold them a fax machine.  She taught the office manager how to use it and everything was good until the next morning.  She was listening to her messages when that same office manager called and said, “I can’t get this fax thing to work.  I keep putting the paper in the machine, but it keeps coming out the other end.”  Funny as it was, just imaging the recipient who kept getting the same fax, over and over.

This reminds me of how far we have come with technology.  It also reminds me of how important it is to have students demonstrate their learning before moving on.

I work for a company that works to reach students by allowing them to try something difficult (or dangerous), in a realistic setting so that they can make better life choices.  They can try their hand at welding, or take a cow apart and feel the ruminant’s texture, or they can see what it is like to care for an infant.

We now start talking to kids about making career choices as early at sixth grade.  This really isn’t too early because the world is a very big place.  Waiting until they are entering high school and using the old ‘tell them over and over the importance of choosing a good career’ doesn’t work with today’s kids.  They want to feel it, touch it and experience it and they want to know what’s in it for them.

One exercise I’ve seen going on is creating a PERSONAL BUDGET.  You can start this in middle school.  Have the student create a monthly budget.  Where do you want to live, then research apartment rents. Don’t forget about utilities.  Do you want a car?  You’ll need insurance and gas.  What about food?

Put this budget together, then start looking at careers.  How much do they pay?  What schooling with they need?  Can they work while in schools?  How much money will you need to support your life?  What careers meet these financial goals.  I think it is important to talk to kids about their financial goals.  How do they want to live?  What is important?  Then, show them how to get to those goals.

Realityworks’ Employability Skills Program can help you get started with these conversations. Our products will help you continue the conversations and allow student to gauge their interest in a field before they commit money toward a goal they really don’t know much about.

For a great overview of what Realityworks has to offer take a look at our 2017 Product Lineup or visit our Products on our website.

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.

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.

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.