A Good Idea in Settlement & Inclusion

Digital Champions – Bringing a Digital Inclusion and Equity Initiative to the Canadian Settlement Sector

Posted on: June 25, 2022

I've written about Digital Navigators as a Good Idea previously. A similar initiative out of the UK is Digital Champions.

As part of the ACS-Metropolis Institute's Envisioning the Future of the Immigrant Serving Sector project the Digital Champions pilot will bring this Digital Inclusion and Equity initiative to the Canadian Settlement Sector.

The ACS’ Metropolis Institute, funded by WES Mariam Assefa, is piloting a Digital Champions program for the purpose of promoting digital equity for newcomers and immigrants starting in Nova Scotia, with the intention to be scaled across Canada’s settlement sector. They are working closely with GEO Nova Scotia, which provides those in need with internet services and devices whenever and wherever possible, and the Mhor Collective based out of Scotland. These are a group of experts in the field of digital equity and inclusion for many types of social purpose organisations, and primary delivery practitioners and pioneers of the widespread Digital Champions model across the United Kingdom.

Watch an introduction and overview to the project:

The pilot program is co-designed with the Mhor Collective and representatives from the Canadian Settlement sector to ensure that client needs are being met and the material is relevant in the Canadian settlement context. It applies the evidence-based Digital Champions approach towards digital equity using a Train-the-Trainer approach, enabling service provider organisation (SPO) frontline staff and others working closely with newcomers, to deliver simple yet powerful training to their clients. We are also pooling together many crucial tools and resources. As per the Mhor Collective’s promise, Champions “don’t need to be digital experts, just patient communicators with a commitment to helping the people they stand alongside”.

The beauty of the idea lies in its simplicity and ability to be scaled. Participants are trained to become Digital Champions over the course of a 2.5-hour long core training session which covers topics related to safety, security and confidentiality, first steps for those new to the internet, overcoming fears and exploring new ideas, and the idea of digital inequality as a social justice issue. They then delivered  tailored learnings to clients in need and/or who may still have questions about internet usage. In some cases, clients receiving Digital Champions learnings from staff may be empowered to become trainers themselves, widening this network. In addition to learning core digital skills, modules tailored to the settlement sector include digital skills related to settlement sector priorities, sharing key, localized resources related to employment search, housing, access to health, education and more.

As they scale out to the rest of Canada, ACS-Metropolis welcomes as many enthusiastic partners as possible to begin growing their network of Digital Champions!

To contact ACS-Metropolis staff, please email Lisa, Sarah or Erika.

Some Digital Champion resources:

Digital Champions Network
Launched in 2013 and managed by Digital Unite, the network provides essential tools and accessible support to help Digital Champions wherever they are based promote confident and continued use of the internet across society.

400 technology guides you can use today with Newcomers
Looking for a specific technology guide to help a client or co-worker learn the basics? Don't reinvent, borrow! UK-based Digital Unite has over 400 technology how-to guides that cover a whole host of digital topics. Written by subject matter experts and updated regularly, the guides are perfect for supporting others with digital skills or improving your own knowledge.

Remote Digital Championing
Guides covering some tips and techniques for providing remote support to learners, an increasingly important service in times of social isolation.

Digital Champions Scotland
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) resources and information for Digital Champions.

 

Summary

As part of the ACS-Metropolis Institute's Envisioning the Future of the Immigrant Serving Sector project the Digital Champions pilot will bring this Digital Inclusion and Equity initiative to the Canadian Settlement Sector. 
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