From Simulation To Real World

Many articles have been written on “Spark” about simulations. .   I have used simulation software to teach concepts and allow students to solidify their knowledge about a given subject.   When teaching Network Security concepts the safest way to teach is using “sandboxed”, simulated servers and workstations.

However, I’ve found if I really want student “buy-in”, I have to allow students to conduct tests on something that’s real. Enter “Cicero’s Blackbox”. A few years ago I built a wooden box where I placed network equipment with known vulnerabilities. Students need to use what they’ve learned in other classes and in the Network Security class to figure out what is in the “blackbox”, and like real network security researchers, NOTHING is off the table. They are allowed to do anything (except destroying the box) to complete the assignment. This assignment does not happen until late in the semester but I discuss it on week 1 and I make the blackbox available immediately. The freedom they have is what gives many of them an incredible drive to do well. Students regularly think “outside the box” to try and figure out what’s “inside the box”.

One thought on “From Simulation To Real World

  1. Like your “blackbox,” I give my students their “transparent” box, the comprehensive final is given to them the first class, and they are challenged to grow with and reflect upon the questions throughout the semester.

    This educational dynamic is reflective of a few lines from T.S. Eliot’s poem —“Little Gidding.”

    “We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And to know the place for the first time.”

    Isn’t this the essence of learning? — to think about our thinking.

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