OONI Partner Training 2021
Over the last week, we had the pleasure to host two 3-day OONI Partner
Training events for our partners in
Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. As part of these
events, our goal was to share OONI-specific knowledge and skills, and to
collect feedback to better serve community needs.
In this post, we share information about the training events.
Since 2016, we have had the opportunity to form
partnerships with 39 digital rights
organizations around the world on the study of internet censorship.
These partnerships have resulted in the publication of numerous
research reports, supported advocacy
efforts, and helped facilitate
de-centralized OONI community engagement efforts on monitoring and
responding to censorship events (such as in
As the organizations of our partners grow (and new team members join),
there is the ongoing need to share OONI skills and knowledge and collect
feedback to support ongoing collaboration. We therefore decided to host
a 3-day OONI Partner Training, which was facilitated entirely online
(in light of travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic). We also
invited other community members (prospect partners) who expressed
interest in using OONI tools and data as part of their research and
To accommodate different time zones, we split participants into 2 groups
and hosted the following two 3-day events:
The goal of the OONI Partner Training events was to share knowledge and
skills on OONI’s censorship measurement
dataset, and methodologies to enable their
use as part of research and advocacy efforts. We also aimed to collect
feedback on how to improve OONI tools to better serve community needs.
To this end, we facilitated the following 6 sessions as part of each
3-day OONI Partner Training:
Overall (as part of the 2 events), we had the opportunity to facilitate
OONI training for 86 participants who work with 49 digital rights
organizations around the world. Many of the participants work with
local/regional digital rights organizations in 25 countries, while other
participants work internationally with human rights organizations and
circumvention tool projects. To ensure a safe, friendly, and pleasant
experience for all during the training, we asked all participants to
adhere to OONI’s Code of Conduct
and to follow the Chatham House Rule on Privacy.
During each of the 3-day OONI Partner Training events, we facilitated 6
sessions (1.5 hour each). The creation of the training agenda was
informed by partner feedback collected through a pre-training survey.
We share information about each training session below.
Session 1: Information Controls Around the World (Day 1)
During this interactive breakout session, participants were encouraged
to discuss some of the key digital rights issues in their
countries/regions, the work of their organization in tackling these
issues, and any challenges they have encountered. The goal of this
session was to share local context on information controls, shedding
light on opportunities for collaboration.
Session 2: Introduction to Internet Censorship (Day 1)
During this session, we provided an introduction to network measurement
and internet censorship, explaining terminologies used by OONI to
investigate internet censorship. This session explained key concepts
that are useful for understanding and interpreting OONI data.
The presentation slides are available here. During the 2 OONI
Partners Training events, we received a total of 24 questions from
participants during this session.
Session 3: Using the OONI Probe Apps (Day 2)
We provided a live demo of the OONI Probe mobile and
desktop apps to show how they can
be used to measure various forms of internet censorship. We walked
through all of the OONI Probe app
settings to ensure that participants are able to optimize their use of
the tool and customize it based on their needs.
In breakout groups, participants practiced using the OONI Probe app to measure various forms of
internet censorship through hands-on exercises. They also shared
detailed feedback on the challenges they encountered in using OONI
Probe, as well as feature requests and other suggestions for improving
Session 4: Using OONI Run to coordinate censorship testing (Day 2)
We provided a live demo of the OONI Run
platform and showed how participants can use this tool to coordinate
censorship testing around the world – particularly leading up to and
during political events (such as elections and protests), when
censorship events tend to emerge.
In breakout groups, participants learned how to coordinate their own
censorship measurement campaigns through hands-on exercises. In
particular, they practiced using the OONI Run platform by simulating
real-world scenarios. They also shared detailed feedback on how to
improve the OONI Run platform to better meet their needs.
Session 5: Using OONI Explorer (Day 3)
We provided a live demo of OONI Explorer
to show how participants can navigate the platform to find different
types of OONI censorship measurement data. We walked through all the
options, and participants learned how to independently find data (that
can potentially serve as evidence of internet censorship) through OONI
Explorer. We also discussed how participants can interpret OONI
measurements and use the OONI Explorer Search Tool to monitor censorship
events around the world in real-time.
Through breakout groups, participants learned how to use OONI Explorer
through several hands-on exercises. These exercises required
participants to find and interpret OONI measurements based on current
(ongoing) censorship events. They also shared detailed feedback on how
to improve OONI Explorer to better meet their needs.
Session 6: Interpreting OONI data (Day 3)
As part of this session, we provided a deep dive into OONI data. We
explained how OONI Probe tests work, and
how participants can interpret and make sense of OONI’s technical data
so that it can potentially be used as part of their research and
advocacy. The presentation slides are available here.
Through a live demo, we also provided a sneak peek into OONI’s new
Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (a tool we’re currently developing) to
collect community feedback in the (relatively) early stages of
At the end of the 3-day training, we shared a post-training survey with all participants to
collect their feedback on how to improve future OONI training events.
To support ongoing learning, we shared a Resources document with
participants that includes OONI-related resources, as well as other
resources (on censorship circumvention, digital security, monitoring
internet connectivity shutdowns, and other censorship measurement
platforms) that participants expressed interest in. We also shared
OONI training slides
that they can use (and customize) to facilitate OONI workshops for their
communities. We will be issuing OONI certificates for participation in
the OONI Partner Training 2021.
Ultimately, our goal is to empower human rights defenders worldwide to
lead censorship measurement efforts in their communities. Through the
two OONI Partner Training events, participants gained knowledge and
skills necessary for carrying out – and engaging their communities with
– OONI censorship measurement research and advocacy.
More specifically, they gained in-depth knowledge on how to use and
customize the OONI Probe apps to measure
internet censorship based on their threat model and needs. They also
learned how to use OONI Run to coordinate
censorship measurement campaigns in their communities and around the
world. The latter may be particularly useful leading up to and during
political events (such as elections and protests), when new censorship
events tend to emerge. We expect that the knowledge and skills gained
through the OONI Probe and OONI Run sessions will help participants lead
censorship measurement efforts and rapidly respond to emergent
Through the sessions of Day 3, participants gained in-depth knowledge on
how to interpret OONI data and use OONI Explorer to monitor censorship events
around the world. We hope that the knowledge and skills gained through
these sessions will enable participants to actively use OONI data as
part of their research and advocacy efforts. As the OONI Partner
Training included many interactive sessions through breakout groups, we
hope that participants identified new opportunities for collaboration.
During all sessions, participants shared detailed feedback on OONI
tools, data, and methodologies. We are grateful for this feedback as it
will help us improve OONI tools and methodologies to better serve
community needs and the global internet freedom community. Based on the
feedback collected throughout the two training events, we will be
opening relevant GitHub tickets in order to
factor feature requests, bug reports, and other improvements as part of
our development efforts. The questions raised by participants, as well
as the challenges they shared, also helped us better understand
community needs – and we are grateful for this.
At heart, OONI has always been a community-driven project, powered by
the internet freedom fighters worldwide who run OONI Probe and contribute
measurements. Community needs will therefore
always inform the development of OONI’s strategies.
Warm thanks to all participants for taking time out of their busy
schedules to join us for the OONI Partner Training! We greatly
appreciate it. Thank you for all your questions and feedback – we
learned a lot from you, and we hope you did too.