Papers on First WHO Infodemic Manager Training
I have been contracted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to co-author three papers reflecting on, analysing and offering insights regarding the WHO’s First Global Infodemic Management Training Program, held in November 2020. I participated in the training both as an instructor (delivering lectures on young people & infodemic management, and on ethical considerations when engaged in infodemic management) as well as a student (I am now on the WHO’s roster of approved Infodemic Managers.)
The objective of the Infodemic Management Training was to give participants a thorough grounding in infodemic management, including practical training on tools for monitoring rumours, fact-checking and verification, as well as learning how to respond effectively and testing interventions to slow down the spread of misinformation.
Organising the training program was a complicated logistical exercise. The WHO received over 650 applications from 83 countries, resulting in a cohort of 270 trainees. During the 34 hours of programming, there were 46 different speakers sharing their expertise with the participants. During and after the training, the organising team conducted focus groups and interviews to collect experience and capture lessons learned in a written report. Each of the three papers captures different perspectives from the first WHO infodemic manager training.
The first paper, “Lessons learned from the design and implementation of a new global IM training program,” will focus on how the training format was informed and developed (with emphasis on historical precedents in emergency preparedness training), and how it was received (with emphasis on student evaluations, focus groups, and key informant interviews.)
The working title for the second paper, “Information Overload by Design: the Case of Elnor.” This paper takes a more fine-grained look at one element of the training: an information overload simulation exercise in which training participants were required to work in groups to develop responses to and solutions for quick and often contradictory information ‘dumps’ delivered from a fictitious island called Elnor. The paper evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of using gamified methods like simulations to help those training as infodemic managers learn to better navigate the psychological, emotional, and social registers of information overload, ideally weaving these practices into overall health emergency response protocols.
The third paper, “From Communities of Learning to Communities of Practice,” considers the transition period between studying infodemic management and teaching infodemic management, tasked with tailoring the WHO’s general training in infodemic management principles and strategies to one’s own community, organisation, and/or country of deployment. Here, we compare two recent events: the introduction of the first globally accessible textbook on infodemic management, and the localised efforts of workers at Mercy Corps to tackle population-specific infodemic challenges in Puerto Rico, Haiti, Iraq, Pakistan and Nigeria.