ART has started rolling out its Simulator Awareness Workshop. Two have been run at The Docklands Ringing Centre and it is now going out on the road; first stop Stretham in Cambridgeshire. More workshop are planned throughout the year.
This workshop was a really useful, stimulating and informative event and I would readily recommend anyone with an interest in developing the use of a simulator to attend one, or to contact ART about running one in your area. I think you would find it inspiring and motivating!
We were a small group of ringers with various backgrounds – experienced and less experienced alike – drawn from Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. We all shared a unanimous enthusiasm for the potential a simulator installation could have in furthering teaching and ringing development, but we all felt a lack of knowledge, both technical and practical, was stopping us from realising that potential.
The workshop was led by Roger Booth of the Docklands Ringing Centre, who
gave an excellent presentation on the different types of simulator
available, how they worked, how to set them up and how to use the
various software programs available. He allowed for plenty of discussion
and interaction during the presentation, which was very useful. Roger
is himself very experienced in installing and running simulators and it
was good to benefit from his experience. Indeed, it was apparent that it
is this kind of experience which needs to be built up within our
ringing community, so that we may be less ‘afraid of the unknown’ and
more able to promote the use of simulators – and indeed get much more
out of them than we currently do.
It wasn’t long before we were up in the tower and on the end of a rope
with wireless headphones on, trying to ring with either Abel or Virtual
Belfry, which are the two main software programs used. These two
programs both now have video graphics included and it was enlightening
to say the least, to witness our reactions to the graphics. Its fair to
say I think that it brought home to us how acutely we used our listening
skills, as most of us found the graphics a bit distracting. However the
graphics do make the software feel more realistic and professional so
they are very much to be welcomed.
Roger demonstrated various techniques and exercises which could be used and it was great to see that so many of the LtR exercises are incorporated into Abel.
The simulator creates a great level playing field for everyone to use. The laughter at some of the random striking we produced put everyone at ease and instead of other ringers getting impatient with less than optimal striking, the group members encouraged and motivated the person ringing to improve.
I left the session highly motivated to re ignite my enthusiasm for the simulator installed at my home tower, and I know everyone else did too. A useful handout was produced for the workshop and it was great to work with like-minded people.
Well done ART for producing this and well done Stretham REC for running it.