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Innovating, nourishing and storytelling: The evolving L&D professional – Call for Contributions is now open

Festival - contributions call

SDF’s Festival of Learning and Development 2023

Date: 13, 14 and 15th November 2023
Venue: SDF Zoom and Advance HE connect

“Tell an artist to paint anything, and he may struggle, but tell him to create something specific, in a set amount of time, for a certain audience, and these constraints might well push him to produce something he might never have come up with on his own. We grow and evolve by testing ourselves.” Worm, Parahumans Series by Wilbow

Whilst the world faces an ever growing set of crises, from familiar ones such as an increasing cost-of-living and widespread social unrest, to relatively new but anticlimactic developments such as a new era of low growth and a decline in human development – a yearning for creativity and innovation increases, as a path to motivate, grow and retain the workforce among so many limitations.

As the heart of the people’s profession, are we doing our part to inspire and retain the best talent? Are we building new and more agile L&D programmes? Do we leverage neurodiversity to deliver? Are we boosting our analytic and data literacy skills? Are we examining how learning and development is managed and executed? How do we challenge traditional staff development to lead change within our organisations?

Key themes

This year’s SDF Festival of Learning and Development will focus on four key themes:

Nourishing equality and diversity – Adding human centeredness into the mix for the professional development of the entire workforce. Supporting leaders and managers to get the best of a diverse workforce. Building inclusivity into local work practices. Designing learning experiences that build in equality and diversity to prevent discrimination.

Designing for squiggly careers and with fun-size budgets – Is ‘doing more with less’ innovating your way into the art of the possible? Embracing social, peer, self directed and other ways of nurturing ‘organic’ learning. Supporting career growth and creating career pathways. Sharing what was developed and works, how could others do the same?

Storytelling and enchanting with data – Is the staff developer gaining more recognition and respect as a professional? How can we leverage data analytics to convey stories, enchant decision makers and influence audiences? How can we use data to inform and diversify learning methodologies to increase learner agency?

Professionalising learning – Designing individual and group focused solutions. Coaches, mentors, buddies. Group coaching, action learning sets, open circles. Devising learning opportunities, focusing on growth mindset, looking for strengths. If learning is the key differentiator, how can we support our colleagues to go meta, and learn about learning?


All sessions will be delivered via Zoom and will be allocated 45 minutes. All sessions have a chair and get evaluated. All sessions should include interactivity, for example: early breakout rooms, group activities, role modelling, hot seat, polls, group questions, or a puzzle.

Your mission: To give opportunities for creativity, co-creation, interaction, knowledge exchange and networking.

Explore Festival themes with active learning approaches in the formats of:

1. Learning playgrounds: Cover innovative topics (15 mins presentation /15 mins group activity / 15 mins roundup)
2. Workshops: (15 mins interactive presentation /15 mins group activity /15 mins roundup)
3. Pecha Kucha: (4 presentations @ 10 mins per presentation including Q&A) (Each presentation covers 20 slides at 20 secs per slide)
4. Symposium: (15 mins presentation /15 mins presentation /15 mins Q&A)
5. Open to other formats as long as it guarantees audience participation and engagement

Proposal Form
Session contribution proposal form – please complete and submit if you would like to propose a session

Deadline for submissions: 26 June 2023