This year’s African School on Internet Governance included a practicum exercise coordinated by Avri Doria, a highly respected member of both the internet technical community and the global internet governance community, as well as an APC member and volunteer. APCNews spoke with Avri to gather her insights on this year’s edition and on AfriSIG in general.
APCNews: What is your general impression about the 2016 AfriSIG?
Avri Doria: This AfriSIG was amongst the better experiences I have had in teaching in SIGs over the last decade. The commitment of all participants to learning from each other and teaching each other was good and strong.
The setting was well suited, and the support given was exemplary. The only weaknesses were the Wi-Fi/internet support and the visual presentation support, which was problematic at times.
APCNews: How did you find the involvement of the participants in this edition, especially in the practicum exercise which you led?
AD: One of the essential ingredients in a successful practicum is the degree to which the participants commit themselves to the roles they are playing in the exercise. This often requires consultation with others in the school and online research. This group did that well. They used the internet and each other to build their characters and their policy positions.
APCNews: What do you think went well this year?
AD: The participants used a multistakeholder model, struggled, and came to consensus. This is not easy, as they have to go through three stages in the project in a week. At the start, they need to accept their roles, adjust to their groups and find their arguments. In the middle, they need to function as a stakeholder group and present their case while evaluating the case as presented by the other stakeholder groups, and in the last stage find consensus. Often groups can’t, and that is okay too. Having a good chair helps a lot; this time we had a good chair who was also a learner, which made it all the better.
This practicum led to a product the participants were proud of. Proud enough to present it at the African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) while the whole class stood on the stage behind the reader. That was an excellent result.
APCNews: What can you recommend for an even better edition next year?
AD: Start preparations much earlier. In developing a theme for a practicum, it is important to have discussion among the scene writer, the subject matter expert, and those running the curriculum. While there had been some early explorations, the work did not really start until the last weeks. Better to begin at least six months ahead to plan and script.
It also helps to develop some basic research pointers and issue papers for the exercise to help those participating. Getting this done is also a factor of planning time and settling on the topic early.
In terms of the curriculum, it is important to get lectures in on the multistakeholder process and on the subject area early in the week, preferably the first day.