Suggested (pre) readings:
If you’re interested in digital security and sharing your knowledge with others, you may be excited at the prospect of leading a digital security training in your community. Sometimes, it’s hard to know where to start, or whether you’re even the right person for the job.
If this is you, pause here! Before moving forward, read our guide on figuring out whether you’re the right person to lead a security training.
Once you and others in your community have determined you’re the right person to lead or co-facilitate a training, have our guide on training logistics handy as you prepare.
Leading a training takes time. Trainers often underestimate the work it takes to prepare for a training. Consider the commitment and know it’s okay to co-facilitate a training or tap someone else you trust to host if you don’t have the time.
Before the training:
1. Think logistics.
Read the training logistics guide for information on who to invite, how to find a venue, and when to host your training.
2. Establish trainer roles.
If you’re co-facilitating a training, establish clear roles with the other trainer(s) with whom you’re working. If your training involves installing a new tool, you’ll need more trainers or helpers in the room so no one gets left behind. Work with your fellow trainers to create a timeline to help manage to-do’s leading up to the training. Depending on how many trainers you have available, you may even want to set up stations. In each station, a facilitator teaches a specific topic and relevant tool, and participants can informally walk up to whichever station they’d like to go to.
Divvy up tasks to avoid duplicating efforts. You can divide up tasks in a variety of ways. Someone with exceptional organizational skills may be best suited to take on event planning logistics. Someone with a teaching background may be best suited for lesson planning. Play to everyone’s strengths and don’t be afraid to delegate.
3. Send a pre-event survey.
Before contacting participants, remember to determine the most appropriate way to communicate with the group. Establish facilitator roles including who will be responsible for communicating with any group representatives of stakeholders. Consider their tech limitations and threat models and plan accordingly. The pre-event survey should include questions that will help better prepare you for your training and give other organizers an idea of what to expect. Aside from answering logistical information about your training, the survey should be designed to gauge your audience’s technical expertise and determine what devices they will be using. Work with expected participants and other organizers in developing questions that will assist in assessing any cultural sensitivities your participants may have as well as their threat models. As a trainer, you may find that participants are more comfortable answering such questions on a survey versus in a room with others.
Make sure you discuss your participants’ threat models with other organizers or the groups representative. This is important! Not sure how? See our guide on threat modeling.
Keep in mind that while the pre-event survey is important, if this is your first time working with the participants, you won’t truly know your audience until you’re in a room with them. People change their minds and their threat models do change. Don’t be surprised to find your audience isn’t exactly as you anticipated.
4. Define a set of learning objectives.
Reference the pre-event survey, and consider your participants’ threat models and technical needs when defining the learning objectives. Don’t hesitate to contact organizers more familiar with the participants for guidance. There are limits to what you can accomplish in a one- to four-hour training, so make your learning objectives are realistic. Although this may vary depending on the skill level of your audience and your own proficiency, there are some rules of thumb that are useful. For example, you should have at least an hour and a half if you plan to have participants install a new tool during a training.
Examples of learning objectives may include:
Participant understands what a threat model is and has conducted a threat modeling assessment.
Participant understands how digital communications work, where encryption fits into them, and can explain the basics to a partner.
Participant installs Signal on their device and has successfully sent an encrypted message.
Setting concrete goals is helpful to both trainer and student. With a set of learning objectives, both you and the participants can feel successful.
5. Send an event reminder to participants.
Date, time, and place of training with information about public transportation, parking, and wheelchair accessibility.
A brief description of the training.
Ensure your participants know what to expect out of the training. If you’re planning a tools-focused training where you’ll walk participants through installing tools on their devices, let them know that. Manage expectations from the start!
The learning objectives
A list of materials participants need to bring
Materials may include phones, computers, chargers, drinks and snacks, etc.
A way people can send questions and topics of interest beforehand
6. Create a lesson plan.
With the learning objectives established, it’s time to start your lesson plan. The Security Education Companion contains a series of suggested lesson plans based on the length of your training. The Companion also contains a set of modules on digital security topics that are meant to be plugged into the lesson plans so you can customize the training for your group. While you may be limited in certain circumstances, don’t be afraid to include the participants or the group organizer in lesson planning.
Test out your training on your friends or another trainer. Or, you may consider sending your lesson plan to a trusted veteran trainer who can provide you feedback. Don’t forget to also practice your presentation and delivery, which can be just as important as reviewing your lesson plan. Think about things like eye contact, tone, and connection to audience.
8. Test your space
We touch on this in the training logistics guide, but it’s worth mentioning again. Before the training, visit the space and test:
Acoustics: Will attendees be able to hear you?
Connectivity: How’s the Wi-Fi? Are there enough power outlets?
AV system: Is there someone who can help deal with AV problems on the day of the training?
Access: How will participants get access to the building? Are there multiple entry points for people with disabilities?
9. Think about post-training tasks.
Circulate a post-event survey and trainer evaluation.
Identify a local contact. To empower groups to continue learning, identify a local resource affiliated with the group who can commit to being a contact who you can train and support. (This could be the group organizer you’ve been working with, or a person from the group.)
Prepare a list of resources and next steps. Participants will more than likely want to learn more about digital security after having attended a training. Have a list of resources on hand that you can point them to and a way they can take action. Examples may include: joining their local EFA, checking out SSD, distributing printed material, etc.