OPTIMA Network Measurement Training

Through this 6-week hands-on training, 18 participants from across Sub-Saharan Africa received an introduction on how to use open-source internet measurement tools and datasets. Participants were introduced to the tools, learned how to collect and analyze their own data, discussed case studies of how advocates have used measurement data to document shutdowns, and received one-on-one time with trainers to build research plans on how to incorporate some of these methods into their advocacy.

For each of the six modules, participants were asked to watch a pre-recorded training video then attend an hour-long live session with each module lead. In advance of each module, participants reviewed core course materials, including any relevant resources included in a weekly packet sent before each session. Modules were presented on a weekly basis over the course of this six-week training.

Each module featured a corresponding guest speaker session hosted within that module’s respective week of the training. The guest speaker sessions provided a more informal opportunity for participants to learn from a range of actors in the shutdown community on topics including their personal experience using network measurement to document shutdowns, their approach to research using data, and their expertise on related issues like network architecture and its influence on the internet. Below is a snapshot of the six training modules and guest speakers.

Click here to learn more about each session, including the trainings and associated homework assignments

Being in a region where websites and applications are often blocked due to political tensions, this training was important in equipping me with skills on how to document future incidents of blocking websites

Participant
Hands-on Learning

Following each module, participants participated in a practical scenario-based assignment to test their knowledge of that week’s course. Each module featured a homework assignment, which participants completed within the week following each module. While completing their assignment, participants were encouraged to attend each trainer’s office hours where the trainers were able to provide direct support and answer any questions from participants.

Applying Concepts

At the start of the training, participants were placed in a small working group and tasked with building a proposal on how they would go about doing research and advocacy based on a proposed research question. Each group worked with the mentors as they collected and analyzed data. These research/advocacy proposals should draw on the methods, tools, and datasets that you will learn about throughout the course.

During the final week of the training, each group gave a brief presentation on their research and data-driven proposal. Those presentation included:

  • The main research question and sub-questions
  • Background of the issue and why it is relevant (the “so what” question)
  • The methods used (highlighting course learnings when possible)
  • Potential next steps

Operationalizing Learnings

At the close of the training, Internews invited participants to apply for funding to operationalize their advocacy research projects and issued small grants for five capacity building fellowships. Through those projects, Fellows have designed and executed research documenting the impact of shutdowns on women, refugees, journalists, and activists. One fellow also examined the use of VPNs and circumvention technologies before, during, and after an internet shutdown.

Operationalizing Learnings

At the close of the training, Internews invited participants to apply for funding to operationalize their advocacy research projects and issued small grants for five capacity building fellowships. Through those projects, Fellows have designed and executed research documenting the impact of shutdowns on women, refugees, journalists, and activists. One fellow also examined the use of VPNs and circumvention technologies before, during, and after an internet shutdown.

Watch the recorded lectures below to learn for yourself how to collect, analyze, and use network measurement data

What stood out was the professionalism of the trainers. Their knowledge of the subjects was thorough and always addressed questions and queries in a timely manner

Participant