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Digital Security training for activists and journalists
Welcome to Totem
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What is Totem?

Totem is an online platform that helps journalists and activists use digital security and privacy tools and tactics more effectively in their work.

Continuous and interactive learning

Totem helps security trainers extend the learning experience from a few days of face-to-face, offline training into a continuous and on-going, interactive learning experience. For example, trainers can curate courses on basic tools and concepts that learners take in preparation of a face-to-face, classroom training. Totem can also be used after a face-to-face training has concluded, so learners can continue to learn advanced concepts and stay in touch with trainers using secure communication methods provided via the platform.

Increased knowledge retention

Although it can be very effective and extremely useful, face-to-face, offline training is limited in scope. Totem aims to provide a platform where trainers can continue to exchange new knowledge about digital security and privacy with learners they have trained in the past via frequently updated curricula. This enables activists and journalists to retain and improve their knowledge about the topics that they have received previous training on.

Community developed and supported

The Totem team works with a global network of human rights activists, journalists and digital security trainers on an on-going basis to curate courses and curricula. The courses, including the interactive materials, are created and maintained with support from practitioners who have developed some of the most effective training resources for activists.

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Totem for trainers

How can digital security trainers use Totem effectively?

The Totem methodology

Since the project's inception in 2016, the Totem team has collaborated with a wide range of activists, digital security trainers and online education experts to develop a shared methodology and a process to help trainers create effective training curricula using the platform. We continue to support trainers that want to use our methodology to create new content and convert existing curricula into online courses targeted at activists or journalists.

Curated course collections

Totem gives trainers the ability to pick and choose from the various courses already offered on the platform to create a "collection" of courses that may be relevant topics for a specific activist group or community.

Curricula development workshops and sprints

The Totem team frequently organises workshops and sprints in collaboration with various activist groups, NGOs and journalists to jointly develop curricula for a specific community or context.

If you are a CSO, a digital security trainer, activist or journalist and wish to use Totem to host courses for your learners, please .

Icon set

We have developed an icon set for designing diagrams that explain internet and security related concepts. The icon set is CC licensed and can be downloaded here.

About Totem

Developed in collaboration by Greenhost and Free Press Unlimited, Totem is an online learning platform that offers educational courses about digital security and privacy, and related tools and tactics for journalists, activists and human rights defenders in a safe, online classroom environment.

The Totem platform is built using the open-source Open edX MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) software. The platform has been carefully designed to be safe and privacy-preserving by collecting minimal data about its users and also using secure, modern encryption to prevent any eavesdropping.

The Totem team is greatly indebted to the wide range of organizations, activists, digital security trainers and online education experts who collaborated during workshops and sprints to co-create the Totem course content as well as to develop an effective training curriculum for the Totem platform.

About Greenhost

Greenhost was founded in 2001 by Mart van Santen and Sacha van Geffen. As young researchers they developed a webhosting platform that was much more energy efficient than comparable systems. Greenhost offers a fresh approach to ICT and sustainability and also supports various projects in the fields of education, culture and journalism. Greenhost is committed to a free and open internet and the security of our users. In striving towards this goal Greenhost collaborates with a multitude of parties in the fields of: technology, journalism, culture, education and sustainability. They develop their own software, projects and ideas.

Greenhost has been responsible for multiple aspects of Totem, including overall strategy, technical development and hosting of the platform, curricula design & development and community engagement.

About Free Press Unlimited

Free Press Unlimited is a foundation based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Free Press Unlimited believes that objective information can be of life-and-death importance. Free Press Unlimited helps local journalists in war zones and conflict areas to provide their audience with trustworthy news and information. The information that people need to survive and give shape to their own future.

Free Press Unlimited's role in Totem has been to provide strategic advice and collaborate on curricula design and development.


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