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SDF’s Festival of Learning & Development 2023

Innovating, nourishing and storytelling: The evolving L&D professional

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

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

  • Nourishing equality and diversity
  • Designing for squiggly careers and with fun-size budgets
  • Storytelling and enchanting with data
  • Professionalising learning

Full Festival programme to take away

Monday 13th November

9:45 – 10:45 Keynote: What place does L&D have in a technological future?
Donald Taylor, Chair, Learning Technologies Conference

Synopsis: How can L&D professionals meet the challenges and opportunities presented by today’s rapid technological changes? Join Donald H Taylor of the Learning Technologies Conference as he explores what’s driving these changes and the profound implications for L&D. We can expect technology to radically alter what’s expected from us, but the future is about a lot more than new technologies.  It’s about new ways of working, new skills and mindsets, and the humanity that L&D professionals bring to their role.

  • Key tech trends in L&D today – it’s a lot more than just ChatGPT
  • Moving L&D beyond its focus on content
  • The skills of the 21st century L&D department
11:00 – 11:45 Workshop: Enabling open and effective communication – in the office and virtually
Jo Keeler, Belbin

Synopsis: Using the Belbin framework we will be looking to understand more about the way we communicate with others, and how to adapt and respond to increase team engagement and performance.

12:00 – 12:45 Workshop: At My Best: Using digital strengths cards to build wellbeing, strengthen relationships and enhance performance
Martin Galpin, Work Positive

Synopsis: In this workshop, we’ll explain why a focus on strengths can have such a positive impact on individual and collective outcomes. You’ll also get to try out a simple and highly-effective tool that can help individuals and groups to better understand and utilise strengths, whether they’re working in-person or remotely.

1:45 – 2:45: Keynote: Co-creating conditions enabling well-being, inclusion and creativity.
Elliott Spaeth, Advance HE

Synopsis: An inclusive environment empowers people to thrive as their authentic selves, thus supporting wellbeing and providing a space where creativity is truly valued. But assumptions about how people work best can result in environments that can stifle creativity and impact negatively on wellbeing. In this interactive keynote, we will consider these assumptions and how we can work together to create conditions enabling wellbeing, inclusion, and creativity.

3:00 – 3:45: Learning Playground: Job Crafting as a tool for building inclusive workspaces
Charlotte Axon, Tailored Thinking and Mark Crabtree, Mark Stephen Crabtree Consulting

Synopsis: This session will explore how job crafting (an approach to personalising work) can help foster more inclusive workspaces. This bottom-up approach can enable people to identify the gifts they have, the gifts of their colleagues, and understand how these come together to create vibrant inclusive workspaces.

4:00 – 4:45: Learning Playground: Getting to know Dave
Harriet Boatwright, University of Leeds

Synopsis: This session will showcase learning and development initiatives and programmes in play at the University of Leeds for our Grade 2 – Grade 5 staff community. We have a vision to provide a flexible and agile programme determined by the needs of our people. At this session you will be introduced to some of the outcomes and stories behind the award winning learning and development programme!

Tuesday 14th November

9:45 – 10:45: Keynote: Advance HE’s Leadership Survey – Exploring what it means for you
Fiona Lennoxsmith, Advance HE

Synopsis: Advance HE’s Leadership Survey was published in May 2023, exploring ‘what works for leadership in Higher Education’ from the dual perspectives of ‘leading’ and ‘being led’.  In this interactive keynote, we will be taking a deeper look at the headlines and apply some creative thinking as to the implications for us as leaders and for the leaders, institutions, and systems we support.

11:00 – 11:45: Learning Playground: Laying pavements and crazy paving – Crafting your own career path
Charlotte Axon, Tailored Thinking and Mark Crabtree, Mark Stephen Crabtree Consulting

Synopsis: This session will enable attendees to take control of their career growth and identify the skills needed to plan and achieve career goals. The session introduces the concepts of career adventures and career crafting as cost and resource effective tools to enable learners to find opportunities for growth and progression.

12:00 – 12:45: Learning Playground: Developing learning agility – the Positive Launchpad approach
Eszter Molnar-Mills, Formium Development

Synopsis: Thriving within the future workplace requires learning; but how can we learn effectively when feeling uncertainty or overwhelm? This session explores the Positive Launchpad for Learning, which helps generate resilience and learning agility. You’ll conduct an audit and consider ways to help others create capacity for learning.

1:45 – 2:45: Workshop: ‘Reaching new heights’ – data driven insights into HE Leader Innovation benchstrength
Jenny Tester & Tracy West, GatenbySanderson

Synopsis: What behaviours make a great Higher Education leader? Do Leaders demonstrate a strength for innovation? Where should staff developers focus their attention to support leaders in their development for maximum impact? This interactive session will explore data insights into the behaviours that define great Higher Education leaders. 

3:00 – 3:45: Workshop: Action learning and coaching as an integrated solution to professionalising learning.
Saire Jones & Dr Kathryn Waddington, Westminster University

Synopsis: This workshop will describe the process and outcomes of an integrated action learning and coaching initiative addressing issues relating to gender inequality and the need to create opportunities for women’s career progression. It will examine how the recommendations from this initiative can be scaled up and applied across the sector.

4:00 – 4:45: Workshop: How can we balance the desire for career pathways alongside the reality of the ‘Squiggly Career’?
Rachel Hogg & Isabel Frazer-Veli, University of Bristol 

Synopsis: When developing career interventions for professional services staff, how can we balance the desire to see ‘career pathways’ demonstrating ‘career progression’; with the reality of individual and agile ‘Squiggly’ career journeys? The University of Bristol shares our story so far. Explore the challenges of how to define and measure outcomes, in this context. 

Wednesday 15th November

9:45 – 10:45: Keynote: Agency, Awareness and Resourcefulness: how mentors and coaches can support people to develop their Ability to Choose.
Hank Williams, Continuum

Synopsis: Effective choice-making is key to management and leadership. In this interactive keynote, we will explore how a focus on choice can provide a productive framework for the mentoring of leaders, managers and all colleagues. We will consider our awareness of the choices we make (did we know we were making a choice?) and of the forces that shape our choice-making. We will also consider our resourcefulness when we are making choices and explore the hypothesis that agency = awareness + resourcefulness

11:00 – 11:45: Workshop: Exploring classroom diversity challenges – what would you do?
Ann Allcock, Marshall E-Learning Consultancy

Synopsis: This practical and interactive session will invite participants to analyse real-life scenarios connected with diversity related training, that played out in unintended or unexpected ways, as a result of designer/facilitator and/or learner identities and lived experience. Session delegates will consider what happened and what could have been done differently, to enhance future practice. 

12:00 – 12:45: Workshop: Professionalise your innovation learning with MIT’s Theory U Iceberg Tool
Andry Anastasis-Mcfarlane & Wayne Trevor, The Learning Moment

Synopsis: Theory U Innovation Framework – popularised by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been used globally by organisations for collaborative innovation. We’ll use one tool from the framework – the Iceberg Tool, to explore a HE system/challenge. You’ll identify underlying structures and mental-models that impede innovation, unlocking the potential to create lasting change. We’ll link the model to MIT’s wider innovation framework. 

1:45 – 2:45: Keynote: Self-care and boundary setting: when you are at your best, what factors have enabled and empowered you?
Sarah Hubbard, Advance HE

Synopsis: Self-care and boundary setting is no easy feat.  Supporting others is a gendered activity and with that activity, our own needs can be deprioritised.  In this interactive session, we will take time to explore these needs.  With compassion and curiosity, we will reflect on our experiences of working within our sector’s dynamic eco-system through the lens of role, organisation, and context.  Through emerging insights, we will identify opportunities to enable and empower well-being for ourselves, our colleagues, and our teams.

3:00 – 3:45: Symposium: 1. Data-Driven Digital Skills Training: Perspectives of an Ex-Chemical Engineer in L&D.
Ishanki Anjana De Mel, University of London
2. What’s in it for me? Making the case for peer learning in Higher Education,
Jenny Tester & Tracy West, GatenbySanderson

Synopsis: 1. Using University of London’s large-scale “Digital Skills for Collaboration” training programme as a case study, we will explore how data can help influence sceptical stakeholders, convince reluctant participants, and translate organisational priorities into meaningful learning experiences. Be inspired to innovate and utilise diverse data sources to drive paradigm shifts in your organisation’s learning culture. 

2. Have you ever experienced resistance to embedding peer learning at your institution? Drawing on GatenbySanderson experience delivering leadership development across Education, Public Sector and not-for-profit organisations this interactive session will introduce approaches to peer learning, providing you with a toolkit of interventions and enhancing your ability advocate for their use.

4:00 – 4:45: Workshop: Squiggly Careers – What makes us Stay?
Kate Rowland & Paul Walsh, Manchester Metropolitan University

Synopsis: Our mission is to support colleagues to shape their career, their way. We’ll explore what this has looked like at Manchester Metropolitan, including the bumps and learning on the go. We’ll reflect on our own career experiments and stories while giving you a window of reflection to think about yours!