Student Digital Champions represented at the world’s largest EdTech showcase & Advance HE Symposium!

by | Apr 12, 2024 | Conferences, workshops & events | 0 comments

Between the 22–24 January this year, the world’s largest education information technology showcase took place at the ExCeL conference centre in London. Attended by over 30,000 educators, policymakers and industry changemakers, the showcase featured an array of events and talks for the education sector. Our very own Senior Student Digital Champion Vivian Hocking was invited to co-deliver the morning keynote on Friday 24 January, kicking off the final day of the showcase.

A navy poster with large speech bubble center frame saying 'I'm speaking at Bett 2024!'

Our fabulous Senior Student Digital Champions, Viv Hocking and Kayla Moclair, previously charted the evolution of the Student Digital Champions scheme during Jisc Change Agents Network at the University of Hertfordshire last year. Having been impressed by their conference session, JISC recommended our Student Digital Champions to the organizers of Bett 2024 when approached for speaker recommendations.

Viv was therefore whisked away to London the day before, accompanied by Senior Digital Learning Designer Emma Purnell, where Bett organisers put Viv up for the night in the incredible Sunborn Yacht Hotel before taking the stage on Friday to interview Gen Z engagement consultant Hayley Mulenda.

A larger wite Yacht - The Sunborn Yacht hotel, fills the frame.
The Sunborn Yacht hotel

Multi-award-winning international speaker Hayley Mulenda began speaking out for herself and then her generation after nearly taking her own life at the age of eighteen. Hayley has become a voice for diversity and inclusion across the world and helps leaders bridge the gap between millennials and Gen-Zs, helping graduate employers understand how to welcome Gen-Z into the workforce whilst keeping wellbeing at the forefront of the conversation.

Hayley’s work focuses on remembering the power of authenticity the power of vulnerability, in world with an abundance of “role models,” Hayley advocates for becoming “real models” and inspiring others to be better versions of themselves rather than another version of someone else.

Their keynote session was titled ‘Meeting the needs of a changing workforce: How should Higher Education Adapt?‘ Viv chatted with Hayley about what had motivated her to speak out following her experiences, strategies to help avoid burnout whilst achieving success and how to be a “real model.”

In conversation with Viv, Hayley reflected upon her University experience during the lockdowns of COVID-19 and how her higher education institution had taken the wrong approach to supporting students with their wellbeing. With how much of a role social media plays in the lives of Gen-Z, Viv asked Hayley how higher education institutions can adapt to take advantage of social media in supporting students’ wellbeing as they enter the graduate job market for the first time, as well as thinking about what skills students might need as they take that first step out of education.

Hayley and Viv on stage in the Ahead Auditorium. They are positioned bottom left of frame and a Powerpoint slide is to the top right of frame.
Hayley and Viv on stage.

Hayley also has a wealth of experience in the corporate world and so the pair chatted about how organizations might be able to better prepare to welcome Gen-Z into the workforce, emphasizing the importance of “keeping it real” and making sure that organizations recognise the changing nature of tomorrows workforce.

In preparation for their keynote session, Viv had researched the valuable work that Hayley has been doing and prepared nine interview questions for Hayley ahead of time. The pair were introduced to each other by conference organizers via a Microsoft Teams video call in advance of the conference and they had the opportunity to catch-up before their session on Friday morning in the speakers lounge at ExCeL.

Reflecting upon their session, Hayley said:

“Bett Show 2024! We spoke about mental health, graduate recruitment, student experience, Gen-Z and so much more! It was a great discussion with Vivian Hocking on what Higher Education can do to meet the needs of students and young people today!”

Emma Purnell, Senior Digital Learning Designer and Project Lead for the Student Digital Champion scheme said:

“Viv did a wonderful job during the opening keynote ‘Meeting the needs of a changing workforce: How should Higher Education Adapt?’ at Bett 2024. He was confident, enthusiastic, and professional. The conversation flowed smoothly between Viv and Multi-award-winning international speaker Hayley Mulenda. It was engaging, empowering and motivating to hear. It was great experience to be in the audience for this session. Well done! ”

Not stopping there, fresh off the success of representing the University of Plymouth at Bett, Head of Academic Development Dr Christie Pritchard and Viv Hocking co-presented at the Advance HE Students as Co-Creators Symposium on Wednesday 31 January 2024.

Image of a maroon PowerPoint slide with a Student Digital Champions logo on the left side and A co-creation journey text and images of speakers on the right hand side.
Viv and Christie present at the Advance HE Students as Co-Creators Symposium

In their session titled ‘A co-creation journey: Building a peer-support scheme with the Student Digital Champions at the University of Plymouth,‘ Christie reflected upon the impact that peer-support schemes at the University of Plymouth have had in recent attainment of the institutions TEF Gold – with the Student Digital Champions having been specifically mentioned by the review panel.

Together Christie and Viv reflected upon the growth of the Student Digital Champion scheme following its successful pilot during the 2020/2021 academic year, how the scheme adapted to changing circumstances during and after the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic and building success today – being capable of providing bespoke services to students across the institution.


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