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  • Writer's pictureHongji Dai

Learning Electronics: the background and challenges of teaching

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Learning Electronics has been an important field of study for several decades, and it has undergone significant changes over time. In the early days, electronics education was primarily focused on teaching students how to use electronic devices and circuits. However, with the advent of digital technology and the internet, the field has expanded to include a wide range of topics, including computer programming, digital signal processing, and robotics.

electronics c circuit board

One of the primary challenges of teaching electronics is keeping up with the rapidly changing technology. New devices and circuits are being developed all the time, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest advancements. Additionally, the pace of change in the field means that textbooks and course materials can quickly become outdated.

Another challenge is the cost of equipment and materials. Electronics courses often require expensive equipment such as oscilloscopes, function generators, and power supplies. This can make it difficult for some schools to offer comprehensive electronics education programs. Also, there is a shortage of qualified electronics teachers. Many schools struggle to find teachers with the necessary education and experience to teach electronics effectively. This shortage is compounded by the fact that many skilled electronics professionals are often more interested in working in industry than in teaching.

learning electronics

In British Columbia, Applied Design Skills and Technologies (ADST) is a course that is offered in grades 10 to 12. It provides an adequate and peripheral overview of the concept and logistics of electronics. It also provides practical experience such as the basics of Ohm’s law to the utilization of microcontrollers. How do educators’ approach and implement the ADST curriculum? The challenge when teaching electronics is dealing with the presence of abstract and invisible attributes of electronics such as current and voltage which are traits that cannot be visibly seen. These attributes are detected by measuring them with an appropriate designated tool such as a multimeter or an oscilloscope (Touhafi et al., 2012).


design thinking

In this regard, the most important feature of electronics education is practical lab experience that provides hands-on activities. Traditional electronic training laboratories are limited by the use of hardware and further limited by budget, venue and teachers. Moreover, under the traditional-experimental-lab mode of learning, students solely practice in the laboratory classroom and cannot practice after class due access. These limitations drive the need to find alternatives and digital simulation tools have become one of the best solutions. According to Campbell et al. (2004), as use of simulations for circuit design becomes more common, use of simulations for learning circuit design makes sense. In education, we must also consider what tools will best support our learners' progress. As engineering simulations are used routinely, engineering education simulations are increasingly used to facilitate learning of circuit design.


In next few posts, we will delve deeper into simulation tools and compare them with hands-on experiments, providing you with a more comprehensive understanding of the strengths and limitations of each method. By exploring these different approaches to electronics education, we hope to help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in this exciting and rapidly evolving field.



Reference

BC Ministry of Education. (2022). Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies 10. BC’s Curriculum. https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/adst/10/courses


Touhafi, A., Braeken, A., Verbelen, Y., & Gueuning, F. (2012). Comparative Study of Electronics Visualisation Techniques for E-Learning. International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy (iJEP), 2(2), 30-36.


Campbell, J. O., Bourne, J. R., Mosterman, P. J., Nahvi, M., Rassai, R., Brodersen, A. J., & Dawant, M. (2004). Cost-effective distributed learning with electronics labs. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8(3), 5-10.


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