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Berks IST program receives NSF grant

photo of Abdullah Konak
Abdullah Konak

The Penn State Berks IST program has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science (TUES) award to enhance information security education by enabling students to practice important skills and to learn together both inside and outside the classroom using a virtual computer laboratory, with a particular focus on distance learning.  

The project, titled “Exploration of a Collaborative Virtual Computer Laboratory (CVCLAB) to Enhance Distance Learning in Information Security” received an award in the amount of $154,151 from NSF.

According to principal investigator Abdullah Konak, Associate Professor of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) at Penn State Berks, although distance learning promises to reach out to learners who may have no access to education, it is challenging to integrate hands-on and collaborative learning strategies into distance learning and even more difficult in the area of information security.

During the course of the project, five Penn State campuses (Berks, Altoona, Beaver, Greater Allegheny, and Harrisburg) will use the Collaborative Virtual Computer Laboratory (CVCLAB), located at Penn State Berks, in several IST and Security and Risk Analysis courses. The project is a unique opportunity to explore the best practices for sharing a remote virtual computer laboratory among multiple institutions.  

The research activities will involve collecting conclusive evidence on the impacts of student-to-student interactions mediated by group work in CVCLAB on student learning, particularly in distance learning, and the project outcomes will provide valuable insights for educators who design distance learning curricula and educational materials.

The project team members include Michael Bartolacci, Associate Professor of IST; Abdullah Konak, Associate Professor of IST; Sadan Kulturel, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems; and Mahdi Nasereddin, Associate Professor of IST from Penn State Berks; Jungwoo Ryoo, Associate Professor of IST from Altoona; Abhijit Dutt, Instructor in IST from Beaver; Galen Grimes, Associate Professor of IST from Greater Allegheny; and Philip Hippensteel, Assistant Professor of Information Systems from Harrisburg.

For more information about this project, contact Abdullah Konak via e-mail at konak@psu.edu.