Posted 5 December, 2013 by Christopher Wilson

New Research on Digital Security Training


We’re happy to release a white paper we recently produced on methods and strategies for training digital security trainers. We conducted the research for the Level Up project in the first part of this year. We think it’s relevant to a lot of the work being done to make advocacy safer for activists and small organizations.

None of the findings should be surprising to anyone who has worked in the field or thought carefully about it. We found, among other things, that digital security trainers feel that a lack of resources and sustained institutional support inhibits their ability to build strong skills and networks over time, that many of the most effective pedagogical techniques aren’t formalized, and that there are significant opportunities missed for expanding digital security training into other fields. But we were glad to be able to confirm some intuitions, and collected a number of interesting insights along the way. We also hope that given the absolute dearth of formal research on this topic to-date, this might pave the way for more comprehensive and rigorous studies of what is working and what isn’t in digital security training, ideally designed and executed in collaboration with the community itself.  If there are others who are interested in collaborating on this type of work, or who would be interested in conducting similar research on other communities in the technology and advocacy space, we’d love to hear from you.Here’s a list of the white paper’s recommendations in summary form:

Recommendations for Action

  1. Promote information sharing between ToT training organizations.

  2. Develop standardized metrics for assessing failure and success in digital security ToTs and end-user/local trainings.

  3. Plan a dedicated and recurring event for trainers to convene and discuss methodologies and best practice globally

  4. Develop training resources for ToT participants to organize their own trainings.

  5. Develop and maintain an up-to-date online resource for information about evolving digital security threats and responses

  6. Provide opportunities for apprenticeship, mentoring and co-training.

  7. Include trainers from other fields and disciplines in digital security ToTs.

Recommendations for Further Research

  1. Map, test, iterate, and monitor the ways in which ToT participants are assessed.

  2. Study the work and engagement of ToT participants over time.

There’s a lot more to say about all of those. We hope it gets a conversation started.

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