The Student Champion Network was established in 2014 to support a number of existing student champion teams that have been set up at the University based on the original Innovations and Digital Literacies Champions (iChamps) that has been in place since 2013. That project allowed us to explore the model of students as partners, and provided us with a foundation on which to build a more holistic approach to key areas that had been identified as important areas for development within our education strategy. By bringing students into the heart of our education experience we were able to satisfy important areas for student development, including digital literacies and employability. The Student Champion Network is core to this work.
Working with students and academics as change agents consultants (Caldwell 2003) requires a balance between proactive and reactive strategies. From the start of our work with the iChamps we have maintained the Agile methodology as our approach to project managing their activities. Constant review and adaptation has made this flexible and effective for our university. “The use of students to lead enhancement projects … has a demonstrable impact on both staff practice and the student experience” (QAA Institutional Review, 2015).
The Network is now made up of the iChamps, Sustainability Champions (SusChamps), Feedback Champions (advising on and sharing good practice around feedback to students), and Opportunity Champions (OPUS Champions). In February 2014 the University was awarded funding from the Government’s Intellectual Property Office to introduce a new team of student Enterprise Champions (eChamps) from summer 2015.
The University of Southampton takes a strategic and holistic approach to developing our students. Students, academics and professional services teams are working together to support our students in order to raise awareness of the opportunities that surround them at university, and to encourage the broader development of professional skills and experience through the overarching Southampton Opportunity Initiative.
What makes this approach distinctive and successful is:
- The cross-fertilization of knowledge;
- The senior support for the student champion approach to transforming education:;
- Digital literacies competencies;
- Student Champion and academic staff collaborations as professional staff development;
- Aligning with other University systems and procedures.
This session will involve an overview presentation of the approach to student champions at the University of Southampton, with some specific examples of how each of the student champion teams have utilized digital technologies to enhance the student experience. Interactive discussion will follow the presentation, exploring themes such as: sustainability of the champion model, evaluating effectiveness, and critical factors for success (based on our experiences!). It will include an evaluation of the effectiveness of this approach including comments from students and staff involved in the project.
Caldwell, R. (2003). Models of Change Agency: a Fourfold Classification. British Journal of Management , 14, 131-142.
Quality Assurance Agency. (2015, February). Higher Education Review: University of Southampton. Retrieved from QAA Safeguarding standards and improving the quality of Higher Education : http://www.qaa.ac.uk/reviews-and-reports/provider?UKPRN=10007158
Smith, C. (n.d.). Agile Project Management. Retrieved from MindTools: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/agile-project-management.htm