Virtual School of Internet Governance: Instructing a New Generation of Internet Leaders

Virtual School of Internet Governance: Instructing a New Generation of Internet Leaders

2020 ARIN Community Grant Program Recipient Report

The Virtual School of Internet Governance (VSIG) is a free, online course dedicated to teaching the key pillars of Internet Governance to both novices and advanced learners. This project was conceived during May 2020 as a result of a shared concern that we had with the lack of a concise virtual platform where basic and holistic academic content on Internet Governance could be found. The objectives of our project, which received an ARIN Community Grant in both 2020 and 2021, focus on three main points: to provide quality and accessible online education, to create a free, integrated learning resource, and to support the Internet community with a key online resource.

Overview

The Virtual School of Internet Governance team started with a vision for an online course that stressed fundamental core features such as:

  • Accessibility to everyone
  • Proven and tested user-friendly platform
  • Downloadable content to mobile devices
  • Clear educational roadmap
  • Interactive
  • Learner-focused and self-directed
  • Discussion-oriented and student-centered communication

We decided to use the MOODLE Platform which is a Massive Open Online Courseware (MOOC) that had all the features we needed. During the first phase of the project, comprehensive research of other courses and approaches followed to deliver Internet Governance content was reviewed. The key elements considered during this period were:

May to August 2020

  • Course Development (structure, content)
  • Fundraising
  • Moodle setup
  • Website creation/Facebook page promotion for student recruitment
  • Forms (recruitment, surveys)
  • Determine the registration process

August to September 2020

  • Site testing with 13 beta testers
  • Modifications (based on the input of beta testers)
  • Recruitment of and communication to 100 students
  • Follow up with acceptance letters
  • Organization of weekly guest speakers
  • Ongoing fundraising and launch of a Go Fund Me site
  • Weekly live sessions
  • Evaluation survey

September 2020 to July 2021

  • Completion of four cohorts of students
  • 400+ students and 36+ guest lecturers
  • Funding secured from Afilias (Donuts), ARIN, CIRA, Godaddy, ICANN, PIR, RIPE NCC, AFRINIC and Verisign

Project Results

Since the launch of the Virtual School of Internet Governance, we have served 436 students who were interested in learning more about Internet Governance. The VSIG program provided a clear pathway for self-directed online learning. The course is an evolving project that is constantly updating and reflecting the life experiences of the learners who interact together online and with our weekly guest speakers.

VSIG by the Numbers:

Four English cohorts: A, B, C and D

  • Comprised of 436 students

Students by gender:

  • Male 59%, Female 41%

Students by region:

  • 169 Africa
  • 116 Asia
  • 52 Latin America
  • 34 Europe
  • 29 North America

40 dedicated industry expert discussion and presentations:

  • 25 Male, 15 Female
  • 27 Global North, 13 Global South
  • 15 Industry, 25 Civil Society

95% of students who took our post-course evaluation survey said they were either pleased or very pleased with the course, virtual live sessions, content, and platform.

Benefits to the Internet Industry in the ARIN Region

Since we were unable to continue our face-to-face North American School of Internet Governance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we broadened our scope to be international and we created an online course as a learning foundation for students of Internet Governance. Our project has provided the only free, online, self-directed course on Internet Governance topics, raising the bar on educating the community in this area.

VSIG is especially valuable to past and incoming ARIN Fellows, as it provides a means for learners to understand the role and purpose of ARIN within the Internet Ecosystem. The complexity of all the various players in this system creates a daunting task for newcomers to understand.

We appreciate the support of ARIN to enable us to provide a free and professional program that will continue to grow and foster a greater understanding of Internet Governance.

Open Enrollment

If you’re interested in joining our next cohort, taking place 29 November 2021 to 21 February 2022, registration is now open! You can view the registration details and more on our website or email us at registration@virtualsig.org or info@virtualsig.org if you have any questions.

Post written by:

Alfredo Calderon
VSIG

Alfredo is one of the co-founders of the Virtual School of Internet Governance (VSIG). He is a chemist, with academic professor experience of over 20+ years. In the 90s, he got involved in initiatives integrating technology in teaching Organic Chemistry. At that time, he did some research on learning aided by computer-based modules and learning styles. Afterward, he did additional graduate work in Instructional Design, eLearning and Information Technology, and ICT. He managed to get involved in the Internet Society and the Puerto Rico Chapter, then ICANN, and subsequently, ARIN. Since then, he has been involved as an active member of various Working Groups in the At-Large and ICANN community. He has recently been on the ICANN Fellowship Selection Committee appointed by At-Large; Coach and now At-Large Mentor in the Fellowship Program.

Glenn McKnight
VSIG

Glenn is one of the co-founders of the Virtual School of Internet Governance (VSIG). He is has been involved in international projects that include directorship with the Linux Professional Institute, BAYGEN Freeplay Radio and the INKmedia netbook project. These exploits have taken him to over 42 countries. He has been involved with the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge and a volunteer with his local IEEE section as the chair for the Special Interest Group for Humanitarian Technologies and volunteer for the Canadian Humanitarian Technology Conference.

He is the founder of the Canadian ISOC Chapter and a former ISOC Trustee until August 2021. He has been a former NARALO chair, secretariat. ALAC and NOMCOM member with ICANN since 2009. He, too, attended a number of ARIN remote and face-to-face meetings and organized a large group of NARALO members to join up at the ARIN New Orleans meeting. Alfredo and Glenn commenced work on the VSIG project in the spring of 2020 and have been busy ever since!

Any views, positions, statements or opinions of a guest blog post are those of the author alone and do not represent those of ARIN. ARIN does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness or validity of any claims or statements, nor shall ARIN be liable for any representations, omissions or errors contained in a guest blog post.

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