24 October 2023 - What are Digital Champions?
What are Digital Champions?
What are the benefits for Higher Education?
Published by UCISA Corporate member Hable
Despite already embracing technology to an extent, the higher education sector shifted to remote teaching and working at pace in a matter of days, For many staff, this was their first ever experience of working fully remotely, so, it is no wonder that staff within UK universities – both academic and business support – do not always feel that they have the digital skills required to use technology to its fullest potential. The 2021 Digital Teaching and Learning Review, from Office for Students, highlights this, showing that just 21% of teaching staff in higher ed feel they are 'very confident' that they have the skills needed to deliver teaching online.
Digital Champions networks can be a fantastic way to bridge this digital skills gap, and come with a whole host of benefits for the entire institution. Let’s take a look.
What actually is a Digital Champion?
A digital champion is someone who encourages the use of technology and excitement around it. While sharing their digital skills with others across the organisation or institution. They quite literally champion... digital!
They may either be nominated by a manager or they might volunteer. Digital champions don’t need to be tech experts, but do need to feel comfortable helping people who may have less understanding than they do. They also need to be patient, understanding and be confident in their own skills.
Why have digital champions? What are the benefits?
Digital Champions programmes and networks can offer your University a number of clear benefits:
- Improve digital skills at scale
By identifying your group of digital champions and providing learning opportunities for this network, you not only upskill them, but give them what they need to share skills with the rest of their colleagues too. It’s this knowledge sharing that can really boost the level of digital confidence throughout departments.
- Alleviate some of the pressure on your IT team
The improvements in digital knowledge and skills of individuals, along with having champions to be first line of support for all those tricky questions, means there will be a lot less pressure on your already-busy IT teams.
This frees up their time and allows them to focus on what really matters; maintaining the complex systems that keep your university running smoothly.
- Provide a more lasting and meaningful learning experience
According to this study by Degreed, more than half (55%) of people would turn to their colleagues for advice when wanting to learn something new. By equipping these champions with the skills they need and empowering them to knowledge share, they can pick up where an expert trainer left off. Creating long-lasting learning, even after a change program has wrapped up.
- Strengthen working relationships across your organisation
Pairing people up with Digital Champions is a great way to foster new links between departments and strengthen working relationships across your University. People may get the opportunity to interact with new peers from different departments or faculties who they otherwise wouldn’t meet.
From strong work relationships comes a whole host of other benefits too, including improved productivity, better collaboration, a boost in staff morale and overall wellbeing!
- Drive user adoption
The boost in skills and confidence ultimately leads to improved user adoption. Through peer-to-peer learning and 1:1 sessions, your champions programme could be key to making sure your new programmes, apps and processes are embraced at scale and for the long haul.
Ensuring good return on your technology investment.
Digital Champions within Higher Education
For a more in depth look at Digital Champions within Higher Education, including the benefits of a programme and what traits make the ideal champion, download this new free eBook.