During his tenure as an electronics professor at George Brown College in Toronto, Simpson found that students who were financially disadvantaged and unable to purchase electronics simulation software were achieving poorer grades than their counterparts who were able to purchase such products. At the time, simulation software was prohibitively expensive for a typical student, and Simpson decided to develop his own electronics circuit simulation and make it available free of charge to all students. Simpson approached computer programmer John (Bud) Skinner with this idea, and development work began on a product that ultimately became CircuitLogix. As a result of using this software students grades improved significantly, and it has also removed a very divisive issue from the classroom. In 2005, Simpson launched the commercial version of CircuitLogix called CircuitLogix Pro and in 2012 it reached the milestone of 250,000 licensed users, and became the first electronics simulation product to have a global installed base of a quarter-million customers in over 100 countries.
Simpson was one of the first electronics professors to use simulation software, and his fourth book, Principles of Electronics was written specifically for use with simulation software. At the time, there was considerable opposition among the electronics education community regarding the use of simulation software for the delivery of electronics curriculum. Many educators felt that a “hands on” methodology was the only valid method of learning electronics, and that simulation was a less-effective substitute. Simpson embarked on a series of lectures, conference presentations and meetings with accrediting organizations throughout 1996, where he demonstrated that electronics simulation software could achieve identical results to laboratory experiments performed with real equipment.
In 1997, Simpson's Electronics Technician distance education program (ET) received approval and accreditation from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). In its first year, the program enrolled over 500 students from 17 countries, with over 30 companies sponsoring employees, and has since become the largest distance education program of its kind in the world.
With over 10,000 students studying electronics at a distance, Simpson's ET distance education program has effectively broken down the barriers that prevent students from accessing technical course material on-line. Of note is that the program has broken the gender barrier in the study of electronics. Typically, less than 2% of students who study electronics in Colleges and Universities are female. In the ET distance education program almost 20% of the student’s are female, which has been attributed to the accessibility of the learning material and the integrative multimedia courseware which is designed to scaffold student learning and accommodate learning style differences.
Read more about this topic: Colin Simpson (author)
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