August 06

Digital Mentorship Is Front and Center for the Education Track

The Education Track team's first experiment revolves around the idea of a digital mentorship program for newcomers and experienced ICANN community members. We are working to discover whether such a program will increase engagement for ICANN, and if so, how to build such a digital program. Coming out of last week's ICANN Labs Kick-off Workshop, the team started laying out a product vision in the form of a hypothesis. Read on for their product vision, the riskiest assumptions associated with that vision, and the team's plan for mitigating those risks in the form of ongoing experiments. You can follow the team's progress and contribute your own thoughts on the Discovery Track page and through the ICANN Labs newsletter. We welcome your thoughts on our product vision and first experiment in the comments below.

Product Vision

We believe that building a formal digital mentorship program for newcomers and experienced ICANN community members will increase engagement, by matching newcomers with relevant mentors so that all participants can successfully accomplish their Internet governance goals.

Our product vision was inspired by the "Bright Spots" research methodology popularized in Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.

During a month of research in Durban that led up to the ICANN Labs launch, we identified a common thread among those newcomers who successfully navigated the ICANN community: they had the help of an active and experienced ICANN member as an informal mentor. These success stories are the "bright spots" that we hope to duplicate and make available to the larger ICANN community.

We hope to create a digital service that scales these informal mentor relationships by making it easier for experienced community members to support one or many newcomers looking for resources and support.

Education Track's design lead Kristine Mudd takes the launch workshop attendees through her Design Studio worksheet

Education Track's design lead Kristine Mudd takes the launch workshop attendees through her Design Studio worksheet

Risky Assumptions

  • Experienced ICANN community members will donate their time to one or many newcomers as part of formal mentorship program.
  • Experienced ICANN community members who currently provide informal mentorship will seamlessly participate in a formal program. Do we understand the motivations of these mentors, and why mentorship matters to them?
  • Can we enlist enough mentors and newcomers to create relevant matches?


We believe that experienced ICANN community members are willing to participate in a formal program to share their expertise and knowledge with newcomers; that newcomers are interested in finding a mentor; and that we can effectively match up mentors and newcomers based on contextually relevant interest and experience.


  • Experienced ICANN community members who have mentored newcomers, or are interested in mentoring newcomers but haven’t before.
  • Newcomers to ICANN and/or other Internet governance organizations such as Internet Society (ISOC) or the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
  • Registered users of ICANN Labs who are interested in the Education Track.




Our current goal is to enlist 5-10 experienced community members as potential mentors and 5-10 newcomers, based on an initial outreach of 50-100 prospects over email.


Build a landing page for the prospective mentorship program by presenting the value proposition and asking experienced community members and newcomers to sign up.

Prospective users will be asked a few questions to help us better understand their needs and motivations coming into the program. Our goal is to identify individuals who would be interested in participating in future experiments and prototypes for a person-to-person knowledge sharing network that might ultimately manifest as an apprentice, mentorship, or peer-advising model.

We will use the ICANN Labs site, social media, and potentially search engine marketing to promote the landing page for this new mentorship program. We will reach out to contacts in partner organizations to help promote the site. We will work with ICANN newcomers and ICANN fellowship applicants and see if they would be interested in signing up.

In addition, we are going to interview people that state they are interested and learn more about their level of commitment, motivations, and capacity to participate. We will be interviewing community members with mentorship experience, as well as mentees, to inform personas and help us define the problem and solution space.

- ICANNLabs Education Track Team (


Posted by Sally Costerton over 2 years ago.

I have been lucky enough to experience many great community mentors - it makes all the difference. I am sure lots of people will want to participate in this.

Posted by avri doria over 2 years ago.

Now that I assume the collection of mentors is completed, how do you plan to evaluate which ones are appropriate? Is there an ICANN purity test they need to pass. Will there be cultural matching? diversity spread? Or will experience be the primary criterium?

Posted by Clarissa over 2 years ago.

Hello Avri,

Based on feedback that we received from ICANN stakeholders and community members, we found that a true mentorship model would be asking too much of potential mentors. Therefore, we have decided to rework our initial experiment and are now exploring the idea of a peer advisory network. We will be releasing additional details in the upcoming week.

If you are interested in participating, please let us know by sending an email to

ICANN Labs Community Manager
Twitter: @bloomdm

Posted by olga cavalli over 2 years ago.

Hi, how are the mentors selected? How many of them are from developing countries and not English native speakers? Specially interested in Latin American and Caribbean participation.

Posted by Edwin Opare over 2 years ago.

What is the Peer Advisory Network? How does it work?


Posted by Syed Iftikhar H. Shah over 2 years ago.

The management of Domain Name System is a specific field and it is observed that there is a lack of sufficient coverage in academia globally. Moreover, it is totally based on knowledge based global community who are working on it for its promotion. Hence, there is a dire need of mentorship program in order to mentor the newcomers about the Domain Name System. I appreciated ICANN mentorship program.

Posted by kristine over 2 years ago.

Hi Edwin,
The ICANN Peer Advising Network is a new experiment. It is still in early stages. We are working with the community to test ideas and learn what is needed in order to discover the best way to have it work. The goal is to build a learning network to share knowledge within the community.

There is a new post "Education Track to Launch Private Beta Version of the ICANN Peer Advisory Network" about the current experiment we will be running in the coming weeks to learn more about the community needs and explore ideas. Please send us an email at if you are interested in participating or have any questions.


Posted by kristine over 2 years ago.

Hi Syed Iftikhar H. Shah,
Thank you for your comment and support. Please let us know if you would be interested in participating in the upcoming beta of the ICANN Peer Advising Network. Email us at if you are interested in participating or have any questions.