Realityworks is On the Move!

Realityworks just finished taking part in a 12-week On the Move online challenge spanning April, May and June of 2017. Overall, eighty-four companies representing more than 85,000 employees participated in this challenge. Realityworks was designated as one of the top five most active companies in the Small Business category of the national On the Move Company Challenge! The On the Move Challenge, developed by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), partners with organizations around the country to incorporate more movement and improved cultures of well-being for employees.

Here is what some of our employees have said about the On the Move Challenge:

“Participating in Realityworks’ On the Move challenge was a fun, easy way to ensure I was getting regular exercise – nothing like a little friendly competition to stay motivated! Completing the weekly assessment modules took only a few minutes every week, and I was able to sync my activities with my Fitbit so logging move points was super easy as well. I’m very thankful to work at a company that works so hard to promote health and fitness, from standing desks to challenges like this!” -Emily Kuhn, Communications Specialist

“The On The Move Challenge was a great way to get conversations going with coworkers about health and fitness. It was fun to motivate each other to be more active and talk about ways we could do that. I’m looking forward to keeping those conversations going now that the challenge is over.” -Kati Stacy, Marketing Communications Coordinator

“I enjoyed the On The Move Challenge because it motivated me to stay active all the time, while providing a fun and easy to use interface to keep track of my progress!” -Alex Baca, Business Development Representative

When asked about why WELCOA creating the On the Move Initiative, Ryan Picarella, President of WELCOA responded, “On the Move was designed to build a culture for more movement into an organization. Traditional wellness program challenges do not zero in on culture change or connect employees with ‘whys’ for being active that matter to them—so we created something that did.” Realityworks shares this vision and is excited to have been a part of changing the conversation around physical activity to help employees live a thriving life of meaning and purpose.

To learn more about Realityworks and our company culture visit our website at: http://realityworks.com/about

Why I judged at the HOSA International Leadership Conference, and you should too!

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

Have you ever considered volunteering to be a judge at the HOSA International Leadership Conference (ILC) for the student competitions? I signed up to judge this year and am so glad I did!

This year 14,000 people attended the conference, of which 10,000 were students. 7,400 of these students participated in one of the student competitions. Hundreds of volunteer judges are needed each year at the HOSA ILC. I received an email invitation to consider being a judge since Realityworks was signed up to be a vendor at the Expo. I thought it would be an interesting new way to engage with the students and learn more about what they do, so I decided to sign-up.

During the sign-up process, I was able to choose a preferred category for judging. A month before the conference I received an email with information to read about the judging process along with a video to watch to help prepare me for the experience.

On the day of the competition the judges in our category attended an orientation dinner and more information was shared on exactly what to expect. Each room had two judges, a timer and a facilitator. We were prepared to judge for a 4-hour stint with no scheduled breaks. Each student in our category chose their own topics and did a 6-minute presentation on a lesson they prepared on a health-related topic. The score was based on the presentation and on the written portfolio that students prepared.

Over the course of the night we learned about safe sex, personal hygiene, dental health, how to safely dispose of medication for older adults, the importance of safety goggles, skin cancer and much more. The target audience for these educational initiatives ranged from 3 to 90.  It was obvious from the presentations that many hours and months of planning and preparation went into the student projects. In short, the experience was very positive.

I’d like to encourage anyone who has considered volunteering for judging at the HOSA ILC to give it a try. These students represent the best and brightest future health care workers. It’s rewarding to see the efforts of their hard work and creativity.

Tradeshow Season is Here!

By Andrea Phan, Tradeshow Coordinator

What is tradeshow season? At Realityworks, our Account Managers and other team members attend nearly 100 tradeshows over the course of a year. Of those, nearly HALF occur during the summer tradeshow season, between June, July and the first week of August. In addition to our flagship Career and Technical Education Conferences, we’re excited to be talking with you at Agriculture Teachers Education Conferences featuring our new interactive animal models and Health Science Education Conferences introducing our new hands-on nursing skills training.

Our Account Managers are passionate about our products and enjoy seeing you interact with all of the great hands-on learning aids in the booths. Based out of Eau Claire, WI, many of our products that you see at tradeshows are shipped cross-country and put on many miles before they return home. We’ll be visiting 30 states in 8 weeks for almost 50 state-level tradeshows as well as several national conferences such as HOSA, AITC, INACSL and AAFCS.

We are also delighted to have presentations at select conferences highlighting our experiential products and providing you with useful tips and tricks to help you in the classroom. Watch your email for more information regarding conferences near you or for a complete list visit our website at http://www.realityworks.com/news-events/tradeshows.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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.

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.

Honoring Dr. King

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

2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

Today is a very special day. It is not a day of rest but a day of service to recognize the great Dr. King’s life work and ultimate sacrifice leading the civil rights movement in our country. Not only has his work greatly influenced the rights of African Americans but also of women and other marginalized groups. As one of the greatest orators in history, he exposed truths about our country that many would rather not face, but in a way that made them take notice and make change.

If you don’t know how this day came into being, after a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”

While the Company did not close our doors on this day of remembering, as we don’t with many federal holidays, we do empower each of us to bring Dr. King’s vision to life in our communities. Each year the Company provides every employee with 4 hours of paid service to help strengthen our communities. In addition to this, we have a charitable giving program that is designed to take a portion of our profits to help provide resources to organizations that help families and children in need in our communities. I strongly encourage you on this special day to take time to remember what Dr. King did for our country. Thinking about how we make our communities stronger is the cornerstone of Dr. King’s mission in life. His work focused on empowering and energizing people to make our communities stronger. Through our collective work we can make a difference in our communities. I encourage you to take today and identify the action you can take this year to work to make a positive impact on the community you live in.

A Look Back on a Year of Giving

Every year Realityworks employees are fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to the community in many ways. From nominating local organizations to receive donations to volunteering within the community, we are fortunate to work for a company that is dedicated to bettering our community through service.

This year employees participated in five larger volunteer and donation opportunities:

2nd_annual_flower_fundraiserRealityworks held the 2nd Annual Valentine’s Day Flower Fundraiser. Employees had the opportunity to purchase roses in an effort to raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin. All proceeds collected were matched by the charitable giving fund and then donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

feedmypeople2

 

A spring food drive was held this May in conjunction with a volunteer opportunity to help Feed My People Food Bank by volunteering their time to help repackage bulk food items.

 

busThe Culture Committee held their annual “Stuff the Bus” School Supply Drive contest during the month of August in which teams could earn points for items donated. Supplies were donated to three local schools which were nominated by our employees.

 

comm_tableIn September, several members of the Realityworks team volunteered their time at The Community Table, preparing and serving a meal for our local community members.  The Community Table serves one meal each day, 365 days a year and everyone is welcome!

 

christmas_is_for_children500pxLastly, during the months of November and December our employees had the opportunity to participate in iHeartRadio’s “Christmas is for Children” campaign, which enables businesses to purchase Christmas gifts for local kids. We were able to donate gifts to 17 local children for Christmas this year.

Along with those larger volunteer opportunities, donations supported more than 30 local and regional organizations, including:

Chippewa Area Mentor Program
Chippewa Senior High Special Needs Program
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Special Olympics, Polar Plunge
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern WI
MHS Senior Appreciation Night
Western Dairyland Community Action Agency
Roosevelt Elementary PTA – Eau Claire School District
Seymour Ball Club
Memorial H.S. Bowling Teams
Longfellow Jeanne Richie Memorial Puddle Jump
Special Olympics-Chippewa Falls
Northern Wisconsin State Fair Law Enforcement Booth
Odyssey of the Mind – Flynn Elem. Team
Feed My People Food Bank
South Middle School
McKinley Charter School
Boys & Girls Club
National MS Society – Upper Midwest Chapter
Altoona Area Foundation
Chippewa Valley Montessori School
Ski Sprites Water Ski Organization
Chippewa Sr High School
REACH, Inc. (Regional Enterprises for Adults and Children, Inc.)
Family Resource Center
Menomonie Boys & Girls Club
Kids N Cops
Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc., Northwest District
Community Table
Southview Bear Crawl – Southview PTA
Children’s Museum of Eau Claire
The Shaken Baby Alliance
Hallie Heat Travel Ball
Christmas is for Children

We are so proud to be making a difference in our community, and each year we learn about more organizations that need our support. Charitable giving is truly a part of Realityworks’ corporate identity, and we look forward to doing even more in the years to come!

 

Reflections on VISION 2016: Why I’m Proud of the Realityworks Team

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

2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

Last week, the Realityworks team had the pleasure of exhibiting our experiential learning tools at the largest gathering for Career and Technical Education professionals across the country: the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE)’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference. As President and CEO of Realityworks, Inc., and a member of ACTE’s Board of Directors, I was extremely proud to be exhibiting and presenting at such a gathering for several reasons

We debuted over a dozen new products for technical education. Educators have long been telling us of their need for innovative new ways to provide targeted skills training and prepare their students for careers. As Chair of the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition and the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, I have seen first-hand the importance of ensuring that today’s students have the chance to learn relevant job skills. The Realityworks team worked hard over the last year to research and design several new products that help educators engage students and prepare them for success in the workforce, and the ability to get live, in-person feedback from the very professionals we designed them for is truly exciting.

Timmothy Boettcher of Realityworks at ACTE's CareerTech VISION 2016

Watch Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc., review Realityworks’ new products at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference, which took place in Las Vegas December 1 & 2.

 

We connected with our customers. We wouldn’t be the company we are today if it weren’t for the dedicated, passionate educators who support us. From the teachers who first used RealCare Baby® (our flagship product) over two decades ago to those who now implement our new Geriatric Simulator in their health occupations programs and our virtual reality welding simulator in their welding programs, we are thankful for each and every one of them – and we jump at the chance to thank them in person.

We created and fostered partnerships with educators. We are dedicated to meeting the needs of 21st Century educators, and are excited to announce several new solutions to help them engage their students and prepare them for success in the workforce. Attending events like ACTE allows us to learn what educators are struggling with in the classroom and what they are interested in exploring in the upcoming year. That knowledge gives us insight into what is on the horizon for Career and Technical Education, which, in turn, helps ensure we can create products and programs that are truly useful to today’s educators.

Our success as a company depends on remaining profitable, yet profitability alone does not define our success. We measure our impact by how many lives are changed in positive ways, and how profoundly they are changed, as a result of our efforts. The recent Career and Technical Education conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our employees and our customers, and I am already looking forward to next year.

6 Reasons to Meet Realityworks at the Association for Career & Technical Education’s CareerTech VISION Conference

Every year, the Realityworks team journeys to the largest annual gathering of Career & Technical Education (CTE) professionals in a single location: The Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE)’s CareerTech VISION Conference. We typically plan for this conference a good year in advance, and this year is no exception. Held in the Las Vegas Convention Center from November 30 – December 2, this year’s conference will be attended by thousands of technology education professionals, educators and industry representatives. From product exhibits and presentations to interactive demonstrations and more, there are countless reasons to meet Realityworks at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference at Booth #529. Here are our top 6!

  1. Preview interactive products and simulators for nursing skills training, including injection training, elderly nursing care and catheterization
  2. Explore the new RealCareer™ Geriatric Sensory Impairment Kit, a set of wearable simulators that mimic hearing impairment, arthritis and hand tremors
  3. See the new Birth Process Kit, which includes six large, lifelike models that depict each stage of the birthing process
  4. Get a SNEAK PEEK at our one-of-a-kind animal science and plant science models, including detailed animal and stomach models and a plant science kit (available in 2017)
  5. Try virtual reality welding with the guideWELD® VR welding simulator
  6. Conduct live welding with the guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system

guideweld

Additional ways you can interact with Realityworks at VISION 2016 include:

  • Attend the “Baby Basics and Best Practices” pre-conference workshop we are co-hosting with the National Association of Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences on November 30
  • Join us at the NATFACS Awards Reception, ACTEBabywhere
    we’ll be raffling off a new
    RealCare Baby 3 infant simulator
  • Attend the “Create Student Engagement Through Experiential Learning Tools” pre-conference workshop we are is co-hosting with the National Association of Agriculture Educators on November 30, where we’ll be raffling off one of our NEW animal science models
  • Attend the Health Occupations Student Association (HOSA) Luncheon we are co-hosting with HOSA on December 1, where we’ll be raffling off a RealCare™ Geriatric Simulator and sharing more details on our new experiential learning tools for health sciences
  • Share your selfie for a chance to win! tweet a selfie with your favorite Realityworks product in our booth and tag us @Realityworksinc and the show #VISION16 for your chance to win a Realityworks mug!

You can still register for ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference online by clicking here. We hope to see you there!

Our Response to a Recent Study

We were dismayed to learn last week that The Lancet, a prominent British medical journal, published a deeply flawed study of an infant simulator-based program that the authors inaccurately associated with RealityworksRealCare Program. The study had nothing to do with us, our curriculum or our RealCare Baby® infant simulators, nor are its conclusions about us credible.

The study has enormous flaws:

1) Our RealCare curriculum spans 14 hours of teaching time, whereas the curriculum used in The Lancet study, without consulting us, is two hours and 20 minutes. That’s not even a Cliff’s Notes version of ours. The curriculum and the infant simulators are an integrated product, just like a computer and software. The RealCare Program involves multiple learning activities, discussion and prolonged take-home simulator experience. You can’t gut the curriculum the way these authors did and expect good performance, or draw any inferences whatsoever about our program. At its most basic, science is supposed to be about comparing apples to apples.

2) The authors somehow failed to mention a key variable that occurred early in the course of the longitudinal study: In 2004, the Australian government introduced its controversial Maternity Payment Program, or “Baby Bonus,” to increase family size.

The program paid a lump sum of $3000 (eventually rising to $5000) to families earning below $75,000 following the birth of a child. Not surprisingly, overall teen pregnancy rates for women from 15-19 years – the same age as those being followed in The Lancet study – rose significantly after years of decline. Before the Baby Bonus was launched in 2004, birth rates for these women were declining steeply, at an average of 4.5% per year. Following the program’s launch, the birth rate for this age group increased 7.7% in 2005 and 13.5% in 2006. Why would one assume the girls in their study group, whose schools were poorer on average than the control group that did not utilize infant simulators, wouldn’t be incentivized by such a sum?

That, to us, is the proverbial hole big enough to accommodate a Mack Truck. Yet the study never mentions the Baby Bonus program or its potential impact on pregnancy rates. That’s astonishing.

3) Magnifying the effect of the above statement, the study groups were not matched. The group who received the infant simulators came from a significantly poorer socioeconomic group than the control group.

What distresses us most about this study, apart from the obvious flaws, is that it confuses a vital public health issue. Our RealCare Program, now used by two-thirds of U.S. school districts, has been adopted in educational institutions since 1995. In that same time frame, teen pregnancy has also declined. There are doubtless many reasons for this, and we believe one is the marked change in attitude toward teen pregnancy and parenting found in RealCare Program participants.

We encourage you to share your experience with the RealCare Program in the comments below.