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Authentic Learning with Virtual Machines

Public·6 Collaborators
April 14, 2023 · changed the group description.


Enhance virtual machine-based authentic learning and authentic assessments, through individualised configurations, improved variability and differentiated levels of complexity.


Authentic Learning (as described in [1]) provides opportunities for students to engage in "learning activities that are either carried out in real-world contexts, or have high transfer to a real-world setting". According to [2], there is "...a call for more emphasis to be placed on authentic learning as it provides an environment that cultivates students who would be prepared for the complex working world". This aligns with guidance from the Office for Students (OfS) who have defined expectations for student continuation levels, employment and further study after graduation.

Why virtual machines?

Experimentation: Learners can test software, operating systems, virtual hardware configurations, security techniques etc., in isolated or collaborative networked environments.

Cost-effective: A type 2 hypervisor like VirtualBox for example, is free to use and runs on Windows, Linux and macOS (Intel CPUs). Note: A prototype version of VirtualBox is available for macOS on M1 and M2 processors. However, UTM provides a more stable and reliable experience for running virtual on hosts running M1 and M2 processors. Learners can use virtual machines on any device that supports virtualization.

Flexibility: Virtual machines can be created, modified, reset and deleted quickly. They are portable and can be transferred between collaborators easily. Learners can host their own instances of virtual machines and engage with them directly throughout, and after their learning programme.

Differentiation: Virtual machine-based learning and assessments, can be differentiated according to individual student proficiencies and career interests.

INDICATIVE OBJECTIVES To collaboratively design, create, share, optimise and validate authentic cyber security learning activities. Objectives include:

  • Share experiences and examples of current virtual machine-centric learning labs.

  • Design, create, implement and test scripts to auto-generate uniquely customised virtual machines for use in digital forensics, security testing, networking, asset monitoring, log file analysis, etc.

  • Create an authentic learning framework that centres on scalable, plug and play virtual machine networks, that aligns with CyBOK Knowledge Areas.

  • Create and validate a series of themed lab activities (e.g. digital forensics, networking, firewalls, subnets, security testing, etc.).

  • Share outputs as open source resources for use in the cyber security education community.


Learning and Teaching in Cyber Security


Dr Charles Clarke, University of Roehampton




[1] J. H. Galindo, “Authentic Learning (Simulations, Lab, Field),” The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 08-Apr-2023].

[2] C.Lee, “Authentic learning: What is it, and why is it important?,” Turnitin, 07-Apr-2023. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 09-Apr-2023].


    THE CHALLENGE (INDICATIVE AIMS) Enhance virtual machine-ba...
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