Planning resources

Planning resources

  • Objective(s): Pre-training assesment and evaluation

Pre-Training Assessments

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Crucial to the training planning process is gathering the data points needed to design a training agenda. A solid understanding of participants’ digital security needs often means the difference between an effective training responsive to participants’ goals and context, and an ineffective training potentially exposing participants to greater risk than they were previously.

Knowledge of how potential participants use technology, how they communicate with it, and what prior digital security knowledge they may possess will have a significant impact on the scope of content to be covered.

Assessing Needs and Motivations

Ideally, you will be able to carry out a needs assessment ahead of your training, by working either with the training participants themselves or with a member of their representing organization. Bear in mind that beyond objectively assessing their needs, it will be important to also understand their motivations for participating in a training – are participants proactively seeking to boost their own resilience, or are they requesting assistance in response to recent or ongoing incidents? Furthermore, from a practical standpoint, knowing how much time you have available ultimately determines how much content you can cover in a single workshop (or subsequent ones); this is furthermore determined by the collective skill level of the participants.

If you have the opportunity for in-depth interaction and communication with participants before your training, below are some questions to ask that can help you learn more about them and/or the organization they work with:

  • What is their organization’s background?

  • How is their organization’s team configured?

  • What are their organization’s main programs and/or activities?

  • What are some of their technology-related practices? How and from where from do they access the internet?

  • Which type(s) of computers and/or mobile devices do they use? Do they have separate devices for work and personal use?

  • Which operating system(s) do they use?

  • What other movements or groups do they collaborate with? This can be as a representative of their organization (e.g. as coalition members) or personally as independent activists.

  • Have they ever experienced any incidents or direct threats to their physical or digital security? This could be related to their devices, equipment, online accounts or physical aggression.

Digital Security and Capacity (DISC) Tool

If there is the opportunity to engage in a comprehensive assessment process with training participants in the time leading up to your workshop, included in this curriculum is the DISC (Digital Security and Capacity) Tool, a resource which IWPR has produced and used extensively for assessment processes ahead of digital security trainings.

The DISC Tool is a pre-training assessment questionnaire that uses a quantifiable scoring mechanism to gauge participants’ existing digital security skill level, while also providing qualitative information on strengths and areas for improvement at a more granular, practice-specific level. If you will be working with participants on an iterative basis (for example, leading several trainings over a 6-month period), DISC Tool is also a useful way to track their learning and comprehension progress.

The full DISC Tool resource can be found here

Alternative Assessment Strategies

In the event that you’re not able to perform a pre-training assessment directly, or have these questions answered, you can still infer quite a bit of background information from what you do know about participants’ context and circumstances:

For instance, if you’re aware of women activists or organizations conducting similar work in the same region as the group(s) you will be working with, it is likely that any risks or attacks they have faced will be similar in nature to those that your participants might have encountered.

Furthermore, there may be certain known threats or incidents that you can correlate to the kind of work that your participants do (and where they do it). If you will be training women lawyers providing legal counsel to other WHRDs, or women journalists reporting on government corruption, you may be able to research some of the tactics that governments or other non-state actors in their country have used in the past against individuals, in particular women, doing similar work.

Example training agendas

Although we are aware that the final content of a training session will be based on the diagnosis each trainer does of the group the will work with and we invite each trainer to adjust this session to better meeting the needs of the group, we do suggest a few options for what we think could be regular scenarios of trainings.

The example agendas below are organized by length (in days), and then by participant skill level. Other planning parameters will of course inform the ultimate design of your training; however, time is almost always the most critical:

How much time you have available ultimately determines how much content you can cover in a single workshop; this is furthermore determined by the collective skill level of the participants.

You’re more likely to know how many hours or days are available to work with a group before knowing other factors, such as the venue, the number of participants, or their collective skill level.

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Although we are aware that the final content of a training session will be based on the diagnosis each trainer does of the group the will work with and we invite each trainer to adjust this session to better meeting the needs of the group, we do suggest a few options for what we think could be regular scenarios of trainings.

The example agendas below are organized by length (in days), and then by participant skill level. Other planning parameters will of course inform the ultimate design of your training; however, time is almost always the most critical:

How much time you have available ultimately determines how much content you can cover in a single workshop; this is furthermore determined by the collective skill level of the participants.

You’re more likely to know how many hours or days are available to work with a group before knowing other factors, such as the venue, the number of participants, or their collective skill level.