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Deng, Y., Lu, D., Chung, C., Huang, D., Zeng, Z..  2018.  Personalized Learning in a Virtual Hands-on Lab Platform for Computer Science Education. 2018 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE). :1—8.

This Innovate Practice full paper presents a cloud-based personalized learning lab platform. Personalized learning is gaining popularity in online computer science education due to its characteristics of pacing the learning progress and adapting the instructional approach to each individual learner from a diverse background. Among various instructional methods in computer science education, hands-on labs have unique requirements of understanding learner's behavior and assessing learner's performance for personalization. However, it is rarely addressed in existing research. In this paper, we propose a personalized learning platform called ThoTh Lab specifically designed for computer science hands-on labs in a cloud environment. ThoTh Lab can identify the learning style from student activities and adapt learning material accordingly. With the awareness of student learning styles, instructors are able to use techniques more suitable for the specific student, and hence, improve the speed and quality of the learning process. With that in mind, ThoTh Lab also provides student performance prediction, which allows the instructors to change the learning progress and take other measurements to help the students timely. For example, instructors may provide more detailed instructions to help slow starters, while assigning more challenging labs to those quick learners in the same class. To evaluate ThoTh Lab, we conducted an experiment and collected data from an upper-division cybersecurity class for undergraduate students at Arizona State University in the US. The results show that ThoTh Lab can identify learning style with reasonable accuracy. By leveraging the personalized lab platform for a senior level cybersecurity course, our lab-use study also shows that the presented solution improves students engagement with better understanding of lab assignments, spending more effort on hands-on projects, and thus greatly enhancing learning outcomes.

Zeng, Z., Deng, Y., Hsiao, I., Huang, D., Chung, C..  2018.  Improving student learning performance in a virtual hands-on lab system in cybersecurity education. 2018 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE). :1—5.

This Research Work in Progress paper presents a study on improving student learning performance in a virtual hands-on lab system in cybersecurity education. As the demand for cybersecurity-trained professionals rapidly increasing, virtual hands-on lab systems have been introduced into cybersecurity education as a tool to enhance students' learning. To improve learning in a virtual hands-on lab system, instructors need to understand: what learning activities are associated with students' learning performance in this system? What relationship exists between different learning activities? What instructors can do to improve learning outcomes in this system? However, few of these questions has been studied for using virtual hands-on lab in cybersecurity education. In this research, we present our recent findings by identifying that two learning activities are positively associated with students' learning performance. Notably, the learning activity of reading lab materials (p \textbackslashtextless; 0:01) plays a more significant role in hands-on learning than the learning activity of working on lab tasks (p \textbackslashtextless; 0:05) in cybersecurity education.In addition, a student, who spends longer time on reading lab materials, may work longer time on lab tasks (p \textbackslashtextless; 0:01).