Optimal learning happens when theory meets practice. Knowledge is only power if you know how to act upon it. Active learning is much more effective than passive information consumption. One of the best ways to internalize knowledge is to attend workshops and start hacking.
What do you think makes workshops so effective?
For one, its the hands-on format. You get into a bit of theory and then start experimenting with what you learned. Then, you add a few more bits and work on that. This constant iteration of theory and practice deepens your understanding. After a handful of "AHA!" moments, you will find yourself reasoning about a topic you just met.
Second, if you are lucky workshop material is given away, and you can repeat the workshop and explore it more deeply on your own. Sadly, this is not always the case. Without the material, it's a pain to re-create the experience.
This is why I started designing my workshops in a way to be able to give it all away. Then, the idea of a Labs came to mind. What if, I could just put up a web-app and make it accessible to everyone. This would allow more students to re-create the optimal learning conditions.
Introducing the Labs
The Labs is the home of experiments, the place where theory meets practice. Its purpose is to provide the training grounds to sharpen your skills and deepen your understanding.
Let me try!
What is the Labs?
It is a sample application which's behavior is highly configurable. For the initial release, you can change
- how it sets cookies
- how it deals with HTTPS
- whether it sends different security headers
- has a reflected XSS vulnerability
In the future, you will be able to configure a lot more. It will contain more vulnerabilities, design errors, race conditions, timing attacks, crypto weaknesses, etc. Its purpose is to provide you a sandbox where you can play around.
Speaking of a sandbox, everything in the Labs is sandboxed, so no one else interferes with your workflow. If you would like, you can share your sandbox instance with a friend by sending them the URL. These containers are short-lived, they are cleaned up after about an hour.
Coming up next
The Labs is a great way to try your hands on skills and internalize newly learned material by practicing. However, to unlock its real potential, it must be combined with theoretical knowledge. This is where guided experiments come in.
Guided experiments are posts that introduce you to a concept and link directly to the hands-on exercises in the Labs where you can try it out immediately. This combination of theory and practice creates an excellent learning opportunity for anyone who is interested.
Stay tuned, for guided experiments!