Shaping the 2017 Conference

by Rossana Espinoza 0

Shaping the SDF Conference 2017



The SDF Conference this year, Adapting Learning in a Changing HE Environment (29th and 30th November), will be held in the heart of the Midlands, the vibrant city of Birmingham, giving us the opportunity of enjoying a stimulating conference programme and the great amenities of the city, for example the Birmingham Christmas market, the Symphony Hall and the beautiful canals.  We will be enjoying delicious curry for dinner and if we are in luck some Cadbury chocolates!


The SDF Conference proposed programme was finalised and approved in the SDF Council meeting in early April. To achieve this, a lot of effort has been made. Kate Crane, from University of Birmingham, led an engaging and productive conference sub group meeting in March, supported by the Midlands Staff Development Partnership (MSDP).


Following a call out from Kate, an MSDP sub-group consisting of Emma Holden (Staffordshire), Deborah Forbes (Northampton), Pam Thomas (Derby), Vincent O’Grady (Birmingham), Jane Nicholson (Wolverhampton), Rie Grantham Lane (Notting Trent), Ian Whiting (Oxford Brookes), Judy Harris (LFHE) and Rossana Espinoza (SDF) met and worked together through a robust decision making process.


The sub group reviewed an impressive collection of 32 conference session proposals of excellent quality out of which only 20 could be chosen. The plan for the review, selection and organisation of the proposals to fit on to the conference programme was marvellously executed on the day. To illustrate, in the words of Kate:


We began by reading all proposals and discussing in pairs, deciding on which of the 5 categories the proposals fell into.

The next stage was to decide, still in pairs, on which proposal best suited each of the sub titles in each section.   Next we discussed our pairs ideas as a  group  to ascertain which was the best session per heading.  In the main we agreed on all the selections, where there were differences we debated and came to a consensus.  On one, where we could not agree we took a vote and have put the others in reserve.

Once we had our 20 speakers the group looked at the flow and order in which each of the 5 themes would run, taking into account activity level outlined in the proposal, whether it was research based, doing an activity, discussing a new model etc so we got a good variety in the sessions.

When we had allocated the speakers we then thought about our potential audience.  Would it work if we were focussed on academic development, technical development, an L&D practitioner, new to role, focussed on senior leadership development etc.

Wearing each “hat” we looked through the programme to see if there was something in each parallel that would be of interest.  The answer was yes to all.


Colleagues, whose conference session proposals were not successful, will be kindly asked if they wish to have anything included in the conference packs, or whether they would like to produce a poster.  If anyone would like to go for the poster route, a suggestion was to do a 5 minute video to support the poster, which can be posted onto the SDF website in advance of the conference so people can download the talk for background information whilst looking at the poster on the day.

Check SDF Conference 2017 for more information on the themes, information on how to book and full list of the conference fees.

Please note, however, that the Conference is now over subscribed.

Please see the conference programme.


Kindest regards


Dr. Rossana Espinoza
SDF Communications officer