I recently attended the simulator workshop at Bryanston organised by the Guild and run by Roger Booth from the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART). We were hit with a few technical issues in the beginning which gave us time to have a cup of tea and a biscuit. Bryanston was a great venue in the grounds of the school, with plenty of tea and biscuits laid on throughout the day and a very enjoyable pub lunch too.
There was a mix of experience with using simulators amongst the 14 participants with a range of reasons for attending. For me, I wanted to know more of the capabilities of using the software as my experience of Abel was 20+ years old! The workshop was relaxed and informal and enabled us to ask questions as we went along. Roger showed us the differences between Abel, Beltower and Virtual Belfry and how to set up different options within each.
It was interesting to find out about the virtual ringers and to see how that worked as this wasn’t available ‘back in the day’! The day was interspersed with practice on tied bells with 3-4 of us at a laptop. It was great fun to have a go at ringing with the virtual ringers for the first time and to work our way through a few exercises to finish up ringing methods. The striking review is a great tool and it was interesting to see how we did and to discuss our experiences in our small groups.
Roger provided us with information on the practicalities of setting up a simulator, where to purchase the equipment and rough costs. It was stressed that before setting up a simulator or learning centre you have to be clear on what you want to get out of the simulator as this dictates what you need to purchase and set up. It was good to hear Roger stress that whilst the simulator can be a superb learning tool, it is just that, a tool to help and ringing on open bells with real ringers is still needed.
The workshop confirmed that there is so much more to simulators, including more choice, and its capabilities to be another fantastic learning tool, for helping listening skills, learning methods, getting in extra handling practice to name a few.
I would recommend this workshop for if you have a simulator or thinking of getting one.
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