Industrial Training - The Best for Less

 

Electrical trades student review for our "Electrical Troubleshooting Series",

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Industrial Training - The Best for Less

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Professional career center review for Electrical Troubleshooting Series V3

 

Reviews

This independent review was developed by staff at the Eastern Monroe Career Center in Rochester, New York and was sent to us as a courtesy. If you have any questions regarding this review and would like to contact the author, please contact us and we would be happy to provide the contact information for the authors of this review.

Review of Simutech’s Electrical Trouble Shooting (ETS) Series

Developed by: Dennis Knab, Trade Electricity Teacher
Eric DiGiulio, English Consultant Teacher
  March 2006

History: The authors of this review work at a Career Technical Center in Rochester, New York. Our students study one year of residential and one year of commercial/industrial electricity. Their ages range from 15 to 50 years old. They come to our program with varying degrees of electrical knowledge, life experiences, learning styles and work place aspirations. In a classroom environment such as ours, 12 to 20 students need the balance between hands-on practice and the theory necessary for comprehension of skills vital to troubleshooting. We need a progressive solution to managing our students’ differing needs.

With a population of students possessing various educational backgrounds, learning “abilities” and disabilities, attendance issues, and knowledge levels, the need for a program like ETS is long overdue. We suffered through many cumbersome and fruitless attempts to find educational materials geared toward the needs of non-traditional learners (here meaning, students whose learning capabilities are not typical of those usually associated with traditional academic learning).

Fortunately, we stumbled across the Simutech website and unbeknownst to ourselves, a resource so valuable we needed to draft this review to allocate the funding necessary to make ETS a part of our program.

Overview of ETS: Simutech offers 3 programs to their ETS series: Basic Techniques, Basic Control Circuits, and Motor Control Circuits. Each program teaches troubleshooting techniques and enhances the learning of students by providing the opportunity to use their troubleshooting skills. The simulated experiences in a controlled environment help students hone skills and learn from their mistakes safely. A student can learn at his/her own pace and proceed through increasingly more sophisticated electrical faults.

Audience: Although Simutech markets this product to the “industrial training and technical college markets,” it is certainly a valuable resource for career technical education centers like ours, whose clients are dominated by high school juniors and seniors seeking workforce training.

Product: We feel the integration of this product fills a void in our traditional curricula by offering numerous benefits to our diverse learners. First and foremost, the safe and secure environment it provides is priceless; with students familiarizing themselves in this potentially dangerous field, we must always proceed with caution.

The programs approach troubleshooting in a user friendly manner by allowing the student to read, listen and view graphics as they learn. The system design focuses on meeting a user’s educational needs by providing instruction in multiple ways, which plays to his/her strengths.

“Practice makes perfect” is an old cliché, which best suits this program. Nothing helps students learn a skill better than practice. The multiple scenarios each of the three programs provides allows learners numerous opportunities to cultivate their skills.

As mentioned before, students can troubleshoot by trial and error, where students can make and learn from their mistakes in a safe environment.

Engagement: We provided a number of students the opportunity to test the simulations we previewed from Simutech and the results were very promising. Students actually enjoyed using the programs. Anytime students wanted to use the program, learning followed. They had questions when they were finished, which generated further class discussions.

Cost: This 3 program series should decrease the need to purchase new equipment and maintain other equipment normally needed to teach these skills to our students. Initially, there is cost involved; however, down the road, cost savings are expected.

Benefits (as observed by the writers):

  • Students easily learn how to use the program
  • Directions (verbal and written) assist the user navigate simulations
  • Instructs a step-by-step troubleshooting approach
  • Engages different learners through text, graphics, audio and animation
  • Immediate feedback is provided to learner
  • Direct questioning reinforces lessons
  • Provides authentic performance-based assessments
  • Creates a context for learning – eliminates “why do I need to learn this?”
  • Allows a customized experience for each learner
  • Can provide remediation for absent or struggling learners
  • Incorporates “sensual” factors (noises and smells) absent from the electronic medium
  • Develops reports detailing student experiences and notifies instructor when errors have been made, especially concerning safety
  • Offers a time/money management component, which is often omitted from general instruction
  • Students can receive “tips” to assist them with the program, but these cost them time, which equates to money lost in the simulation


Comments:

Student Feedback: Students were assigned a written reflection to express their experience over one month using this program.

“It made me follow procedures, in this business, this is so important.” (K.B.)

“ETS felt more like a game than a lesson. I didn’t even mind reading and listening because I knew I was going to get to play it soon.” (N.S.)

“These programs give you a realistic chance to troubleshoot problems that you might come across in the real world.” (D.K.)

“The way the program was set up really made you have to use your mind to identify why you were making certain mistakes and how to remedy them…I just thought the programs were a lot of fun, and it made me want to take my time to figure out why I was making mistakes.” (A.S.)

“When you made a wiring mistake or error; it took time and incurred a cost. This made me want to get it right the first time. This is how it works on the job.” (C.M.)


Teacher Feedback:

“ETS provides the chance for students to read and listen to new information while observing the animations, which help to clarify this information as they proceed through the lesson. It identifies and defines vocabulary by associating visuals to help the words have meaning for the learner.” (Eric DiGiulio, English Consultant Teacher)

“The programs create workplace scenarios, where students can use virtual tools like meters and schematics to solve challenging faults. This is a great tool to help students learn.” (Dennis Knab, Trade Electricity Instructor)

“The program provided immediate feedback and displayed answers that were correct and specific tasks that needed to be corrected. The program is very suitable for the non-traditional learner.” (Louise Hoare, Special Education Consultant)

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