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The Importance of Capture the Flag Exercises

When I started my journey into the IT industry, learning was still fairly straight forward. You’d pick a full education or set of courses and get to work. Just follow the path and it would lead to a fairly predictable outcome. These days however, learning in technology and related fields has become a much more complex being.

A lot of people are seeing amazing results by being self taught, complemented with some inexpensive but valuable courses found online. Others still follow the path of traditional education. This has also led to a wild growth in online learning platforms, YouTube channels, books and other materials all screaming for your attention. “Zero to Hero, Noob to Guru”. All that good stuff.

This development in a huge growth of available information is amazing for those dedicated to learning and improving. But it has also created a large pitfall, mostly to newcomers in the industry. There is a massive information overload, making it very difficult for a lot of people starting out to pick a clear path.

We already see the industry response to this happening in very positive ways, for example Cybrary, a platform focused on the tech industry, provides learning paths made of smaller courses. This blog post is not sponsored in any way, just giving examples.

So, information overload, too much to choose from in a generation already plagued by dwindling attention spans. Besides learning paths, what would be a good way of focusing attention and learning skills? 

Capture the Flag Exercises!

Create Focus

By giving clear tasks that cover precisely chosen fields of expertise, the player is forced to focus on a small and relevant subset of skills to complete tasks. This removes the clutter of all the attention grabbing courses and other material. The focus will only be on the task at hand, allowing the player to learn with more focus. 

Interactivity

Capture the Flag exercises are by nature very interactive. There’s no time for daydreaming, phone distractions or other disturbances if you’re constantly solving the puzzle in front of you. Keeping the player engaged for the entire duration will ensure knowledge acquired is retained better than just staring at a screen or reading text. Information acquired during real life tasks in an interactive setting, will always have a more lasting effect than information obtained passively.

Problem Solving

Humans are made to solve problems, we thrive on it. Most comforts we have these days are the result of endless human problem solving. Engaging your mind in problem solving tasks improves your cognitive abilities. It will also boost your confidence to solve real world problems and better prepare you for employment. Theory is great, but companies make money due to smart people solving problems and challenges.

Discover New Interests

Capture the Flag exercises are usually categorized based on required skill sets and difficulty levels. This allows the player to easily venture into new fields they had not been introduced to previously. Where textbooks and courses quickly venture into the depths of a certain field, the Capture the Flag exercises stay focused and on task. Making the introduction into a new field one of fun exploration, interactive content and not too overwhelming.

Allowing Everyone to Learn

Not all people enjoy reading books or watching videos, this can become a large hurdle in acquiring the needed knowledge to be competitive in their field. By participating in Capture the Flag exercises, this group of people can be activated to learn in a very interactive way. Making learning more accessible to them and giving them back the needed advantage to move further in their career, or personal interests.

In Conclusion

Capture the Flag exercises are fun and engaging ways to learn, with many benefits that come as an amazing byproduct. I’m sure there are many more benefits to participating in Capture the Flag events, these are my top 5 though. If you have your own reasons why Capture the Flag exercises are awesome, drop them down below in the comments. Thank you for reading and hope you enjoy our Hacktoria CTF Events.

Sources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323959

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/1918/5/052068/pdf

https://www.cybrary.it/catalog/career-paths/

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Written by Frank

Connecting dots. Ow no wait, wires... I connect wires. Sometimes also waves.

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