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.

Business teachers, are you ready to teach 21st Century students?

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

21st Century Learning is a technology-based learning style. To effectively communicate, collaborate and create with 21st Century students, teachers of all subjects need to utilize today’s technology. Although brick-and-mortar school buildings have remained relatively the same over the past century, the advancement of technology means the tools available to instructors are completely different. For instance, RealityworksRealCareer® Business Education Simulations are a great way to connect today’s students with the marketing and finance that concepts business teachers are covering in the classroom.

Why are tools like this so effective? The following chart, created by Like to Write, is a great visual for seeing the differences that 21st Century learners bring to the classroom:

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These differences mean that simulation technology is a very effective engagement tool. This is because simulations allow for:

Creating. Students are comfortable with this medium of learning and therefore create new ways of doing business, working to use innovation to be successful.

Evaluation and analysis. Simulations create a platform on which students need to evaluate analyze their decisions, and understand the consequences of those decisions.

Applying and understanding. Students apply the concepts that they learn in the classroom and put them to work in the simulation experience, connecting business concepts with real-world understanding.

Remembering. Simulation experiences of failure or victory give rise for remembering what to do differently or what to replicate.

Additionally, generational learners react positively to simulations and find them engaging because they are used to video gaming technology. Thanks to the internet and social media, today’s students are used to the immediate feedback that simulation tools like this one provide; the ability to see the impact of their decisions forces them to learn and rethink efficiently.

To learn more about the game-like business education simulations we provide, click here. For more resources on 21st Century learning styles and teaching techniques, we recommend the following websites:

How do you connect with your 21st Century students? Share your feedback in the comments below.

New Program Release: RealCareer® Welding Solutions

By Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager

As the skills gap continues to widen and educators focus on meeting 21st century learning with 21st century technology, the need for efficient methods of developing student’s skills – the skills of our future workforce – is becoming more and more important. The American Welding Society estimates that by 2020, there will be a shortage of 290,000 professionals, including inspectors, engineers, welders and teachers. For welding instructors and trainers, finding tools that provide the best course of student training will help engage and develop the skilled welders our workforce needs. One way to provide such training to 21st century learners while addressing the skills gap is through a robust welding solution – a solution that will transform your classroom into a 21st century welding lab.

A 21st century welding lab, complete with the technology and tools needed by 21st century students, would not only to engage students and encourage them to enter welding courses, but also to improve upon their welding techniques so they become proficient. Through three stages of learning, each of which incorporates various technologies, this welding solution emphasizes individual skill development, trains welders faster and in the end, develops our workforce.

Virtual reality welding simulators have become the first step of such a solution. The technology of these tools engages students in the skill of welding while giving them a safe environment in which to learn techniques, proper angles and muscle memory. The second stage of this welding solution would feature guidance and training during live welding in the welding booth. This guided reality experience would allow students to hone their skills, correct positioning and master welds faster while getting used to the real welding environment. Finally, the solution would see students do actual welds without guidance.

A robust welding solution is now available through Realityworks’ RealCareer® Welding Solutions program. It begins with the guideWELD™ VR welding simulator, a virtual reality welding simulator that enables students to master basic welding skills and learn proper technique in a safe, virtual environment. It continues with the guideWELD™ LIVE real welding guidance system, an in-helmet solution for live welding that provides immediate feedback on work angle, travel angle and speed while the user is performing live, arc-on welds. Both tools can be used by instructors – who can have as much as a 1/25 teacher-to-student ratio — to help with classroom management and ensure that improvements continue with all students.

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The guideWELD™ VR welding simulator enables students to master basic welding skills and learn proper welding technique in a virtual environment.

Instructors have seen the impact of the RealCareer Welding Solutions program, particularly feedback during live welding. In fact, instructors report that students have improved their technique by at least a week after being guided during live welds. As Hutchinson Community College Welding Instructor Greg Seipert stated after his students used guideWELD LIVE, “My students get it and their welds improve, along with their confidence.”

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The guideWELD LIVE real welding guidance system uses a heads-up display inside the welding helmet that provides immediate feedback during live welding.

It is vital that educators utilize technology that truly works for our future workforce. Realityworks’ RealCareer Welding Solutions program was made by welders for welding education to help develop the skills of today’s students. Finding a full solution for your classroom will not only prepare your 21st century students for the future but address our nation’s skills gap as well.

For more information about our RealCareer Welding Solutions program, including guideWELD VR and guideWELD LIVE, please contact us via email at information@realityworks.com

Realityworks Introduces the guideWELD™ LIVE Real Welding Guidance System

EAU CLAIRE, Wis., September 15, 2014 – Realityworks, Inc. announces the guideWELD™ LIVE real welding guidance system, a new product in their Real Career® Welding Solutions line. Realityworks has taken the step from simulation to real life with a live welding guidance system that helps users establish proper welding position and technique while welding.

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Realityworks’ newest welding education product is the guideWELD LIVE real welding guidance system, which provides in-helmet feedback during live welding.

Considered the future of welding education, Realityworks’ guideWELD LIVE system provides immediate in-helmet feedback on three core aspects of welding technique: speed, work angle and travel angle. This real-time feedback occurs inside the welding helmet and set in the user’s periphery vision, so both the feedback and the weld puddle can be monitored simultaneously. By monitoring that feedback, the user can see – while they weld – whether they need to correct their speed, work angle or travel angle.

“After using guideWELD LIVE, students were providing me with feedback first, which was great – in a real-world situation, your boss is going to ask you why it’s this way or that way,” noted George Karr, Welding Instructor at Hollenstein Career and Technology Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

The guideWELD LIVE system was showcased at the American Welding Society’s (AWS) Instructor Institute in July and will be on display to over 27,000 FABTECH Conference attendees in Atlanta, Georgia November 11-13. Another opportunity to view this new product will be at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2014 conference in Nashville, Tennessee from November 20-22. This conference hosts over 4,000 educators, education influencers and corporate representatives from around the nation.

For more information on Realityworks and the guideWELD™ LIVE system visit us at www.realityworks.com or call 800-262-3806.

About Realityworks, Inc.
Established 19 years ago to better address parenting skills, teen pregnancy prevention, child abuse and neglect through educational products, Realityworks, Inc. is dedicated to creating experiential learning tools that engage students while improving the human condition. Most famous for their RealCare Baby infant simulator (formerly known as Baby Think it Over or BTIO), Realityworks has developed several other programs over the last decade that address career preparation areas like business management, finance and entrepreneurship, as well as a RealCareer® Welding Solutions line that includes the guideWELD™ LIVE real welding guidance system and guideWELD™ VR welding simulator. With products in 62 percent of U.S. school districts and programs in more than 90 countries around the world, Realityworks has made a worldwide impact. For more information, visit www.realityworks.com, or call toll-free 800-830-1416.