Champions Digifest

Catching up with the community champions of 2022

In March 2022, we hosted the second community champion’s programme. We celebrated 17 incredible and dedicated individuals who go above and beyond to help their peers. Winners were treated a VIP trip to Digifest and have since become a community of peers who support each other sharing resources and tips to strengthen their communities and practice.

Community champions at Digifest 2022 workshop

Community champions of 2022 included a library manager who embraces the use of technology to provide resources and support beyond their organisation. A technology demonstrator making collaboration part of their DNA by hosting practical sessions that captivate colleagues across sectors with new technology. A researcher who has been delivering multidisciplinary workshops, empowering a diverse range of researchers to become open science leaders, plus many more.

So, what did it mean for our 2022 cohort to be celebrated as community champions? We asked some to reflect on the programme.

Working together

Chris Melia, Educational Developer, Centre for Collaborative Learning, University of Central Lancashire was celebrated for his leadership, influence, and facilitation of the renowned and revolutionary DigiLearn Sector community which hosts a regular webinar series and active blog site. Chris explains:

“Being recognised as one of Jisc’s community champions has presented invaluable opportunities to collaborate with like-minded peers and share various outputs along the way. Recognition is a core element of our DigiLearn initiative at the University of Central Lancashire – and it is fantastic that Jisc are promoting an approach which shares many of the same values.

This year, in addition to taking part in a Jisc customer story, I was also invited to speak alongside a fellow 2022 champion (Jamie Giarraputo) at a national conference – the EdTech Summit in Birmingham. On the day, what really resonated for me, was our shared passion for professional development and digital transformation. It was through these synergies (across sectors), that we were able to facilitate a very practical discussion, which was positively received by many who attended. I can already see the potential for further opportunities which could emerge in the future, as a result of the champions initiative.”

Building confidence

Kelly Herbert, Learning Coordinator at Harlow College, was recognised for helping build confidence and improving the skills of learners with a coding club. Kelly and her college students helped primary school children learn to code robots and design their own ideas for apps. Since then, it’s built her confidence, Kelly adds:

“I was selected as a community champion for a coding club I was offering to local school children which will be running again in the new year. Being recognised as a community champion has helped me become involved in other community projects.

I recently supported a local artist by recording an audio conversation with them for an exhibition the artist put together about my local town. I am also involved in a local arts project where I will be providing coding club sessions, again to the local community and be part of some exhibitions that will celebrate community in my local town.”

Kelly is motivated from the smiles and excitement she gets from the children who take part and learn to code. Being recognised by Jisc as a community champions made her feel that it was all worth it and helped her conquer imposter syndrome.

More recognition

Richard Beggs, Ulster University, and National Teaching Fellow 2022 was celebrated for helping enhance learning and teaching experiences. Richard’s passion for learning technology brought together colleagues from primary to HE and local government via the ALT’s Active Learning Special Interest Group (ALSIG). He said,

“Being recognised as a community champion raised the profile of the communities I lead internally and externally, extending their reach and contributed to my Advance HE National Teaching Fellowship award in August 2022”.

For Richard, community is all about creating a safe environment that facilitates opportunities for learning from one another, inspiring innovation and creating networks that lead to those unexpected collaboration opportunities and projects.

Looking to 2023

Our communities across education and research continue to provide life-changing support for so many professionals and learners. With more opportunities to connect, comes more opportunities to share and be open, and learn from each other.

With Digifest 2023 fast approaching, nominate a community champion for our new 2023 cohort – closing date is midnight, 16 December.

Both Richard and Chris will be a part of the selection panel for the 2023 nominations and help us review the testimonials to find out who is making a real difference across the education and research sectors.

Are you involved in a community? Contact us so we can discuss ways to support you.

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