Challenges And Opportunities In Teaching Electronics And Iot
Electronics, the branch of physics and electrical engineering dealing with electronic devices' emissions, behavior, and their effects, contributes to making our lives easier. It reduces distances between countries and thereby contributes to the globalization of today's society. Therefore, teaching electronics is an essential part of the school curriculum, with many exciting opportunities for more innovative approaches to teaching this subject. However, it is facing challenges such as a lack of specialist teachers and equipment, as well as a long-withstanding perception of being a hardware subject. The Internet of Things and its rapid advancements have also increased the need for adequate electronics education to develop smart devices further and create a more connected world. Simuli offers an innovative and different way of teaching electronics, adapting to the fast-changing environment, and can augment traditional teaching of electronics with hardware.
The existing teaching curriculum is not preparing students for the rapid advancements in the electronic world who understand the full grip of the IoT concept and how to leverage it to improve businesses and organizations. To further read about this particular matter, visit our earlier post, “Challenges in IoT education”, blog.simuli.co/challenges-in-iot-education. Furthermore, a necessary reform in the electronics curriculum is the shift from the traditional teaching of essential components and circuits. This education method relies heavily on hardware which is not always easy to access, especially when teaching remotely or to a large group of students. The access barrier accentuated during the pandemic, as students could not physically attend classes and put into practice the concepts they were taught. Simuli is not a platform aiming to replace hardware. It will instead fill a gap we identified in the market. Most electronics and Internet of Things courses are taught through a combination of lab and theory classes, although the offering in online education is growing. The interest and participation in online learning have come as a result of both the pandemic and market forces, such as increased investments in services that provide such platforms. This raises the question of whether providers are ready for this rapid shift, especially in the world of electronics and IoT, where many professors are biased toward hardware-based labs, since this is the most hands-on and traditional method. However, a simulation program like Simuli is a great way to augment electronics education. Many people lack basic skills within this subject area, and increased access to hardware through simulation can be a solution to this problem.
The IoT domain has fallen behind other programming domains like AI, Computer Vision and Web Development because of its historical dependence on hardware. Teaching circuits and systems, particularly with hardware, is already a difficult task. A research paper published by Shridhar and Giriyapur in 2015 addresses this issue in relation to teaching electronic hardware to today’s medical engineering students. Today's practices rely on the hardware to conduct workshops and seminars, even though future engineers are required to have a broader skill-set, along with abilities to learn new topics quickly. The paper suggests that active education methods that capture the student’s attention are the most effective approach. This is why Simuli is a great tool because it offers rapid prototyping and sensor evaluation. People can build and validate physical electronic design in their internet browser and help teach basic electronic concepts. When building and validating a physical design, testing equipment is required, which is rather costly. A simulator proves therefore, to be a cheaper alternative.
Similar technical domains, such as AI, have faced more recognition in the tech industry because IoT systems require to coordinate a lot of integrated hardware into a coherent and functional system compared to many other programming domains. Due to the increased adoption of technology and deployment of new applications, developers face issues in terms of flexibility. IoT systems are equipped with sensors, actuators and processors that create a connected environment of embedded systems. Thereby, it is evident that electronics and IoT require hands-on knowledge. With AI being the hot trend in the Computer Science field, greater focus should be given to IoT and its benefits to society. AI and other popular computer domains are based on data. Whereas IoT is all about capturing moments, meaning that it relies on sensors. The more sensors, the more efficient the data system is. The same applies to web development, where IoT also is far more data intensive compared to the latter. IoT application development is generally quite different from web dev, and therefore it is often thought in less innovative ways, with less room for creativity.
When we developed Simuli, our focus was on 'One-to-one' device emulation, everything that works on real hardware works exactly as is on our platform and vice versa. Both our Boards and Sensors are modeled to a near hardware level of accuracy such that you won't have to use any custom code specific to the simulation. With that, we aim to make IoT education more accessible to not just university students, but also hobbyists and developers. The problems with traditional hardware-based labs, often relating to scalability, capital and resource intensivity, are not an issue with a platform like Simuli. Remote IoT teaching also enables rapid prototyping compared to common practices today. Currently, if a developer wants to prototype an IoT device, they have to conduct research, make a bet that the part that they are ordering is suitable for their application by purchasing it first and then making a prototype. With a virtual hardware-lab, you can test first and then order. Circuits can be both simple and complex, depending on the application.With a simple click of a button, students and hobbyists can launch an open-source virtualization platform. It gives people access to software-level features that help them to gain understanding of different boards and sensors, which they later can apply to real hardware. This makes life easier as an engineer and technician. It is a chance for students to make final modifications before ordering parts for the application, and involves analyzing a digital prototype and simulating its behavior in different scenarios.
The IoT field has bloomed in recent years, which have increased the need for rapid advancements in the field of electronics. Current electronics curriculum, specifically IoT, are not preparing students for this and rather focus on theory and lab classes. This has resulted in technical domains such as AI and Web development being more innovative in its teaching compared to IoT, which heavily relies on hardware and sensors.
However, with the emergence of circuit simulators, the field is facing opportunities for development and innovation. Particularly in teaching remotely, through online courses and universities.