L&D Connect Unconference: Embrace change and exchange ideas in Manchester

A lot of people enjoy the L&D conferences and free exhibitions that are planned throughout the year. 

There is a lot to get out of that various type of events, including hearing from industry leaders and experts in their fields, vendors that bring their products to life, seeing products and speaking in person to companies and people you are interested in working with in the future or purchasing from.

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The L&D Connect Unconference started a few years ago by the volunteer community group L&D Connect who are a virtual and real-life space for L&D practitioners and others in L&D/organisational development to discuss the issues that matter most to them and their organisations. There have been three unconferences in London, one in Glasgow, one in Edinburgh and one coming up in Manchester on the 11th February.

Julie Drybrough, co-organiser, said: “The emphasis is on the Learning and Development and Organisational Development practitioner. To give them space to reflect, digest and experiment. We’ve had people do pecha kucha or, for example, at one of the events we had Bev Holden of Clear Thinking Partnership facilitate an event with web conversations in real time. And this was before a lot of the technology that’s come up in just the last year or two.”

With the focus less on industry leaders delivering a message and of people connecting to conversations that can support their development and challenges in their organisations. 

This year’s theme is “Embracing Change in Learning Practice”, based around the following questions: What are the trends and technologies that are shaping the Learning landscape? What do we, as Practitioners, need to do or learn ourselves to prepare for changes? What are we already doing to support new or improved learning solutions in our organisations or client groups?

Drybrough said the aim of unconference was to help practitioners get comfortable, “Let’s assume if we’re really good; proving useful, innovative, ahead of the game; scanning what’s out there to generate learning, thoughts and allow people to share, we get a seat at the table by doing all this well.”

There are a number of facilitators at the Manchester Unconference, including Mike Collins, Ady Howes and TJ Special Achievement Award 2015 Martin Couzins focusing on digital curation and social technology.

She said: “Kev Wyke is a super facilitator in a big room, he creates open, inviting and encouraging sessions. Fiona McBride is brilliant and we have Sarah Storm coming from the Netherlands as she’s interested to run one there.

“The £60 ticketed event that “it’s not for profit, it all goes on the food and the venue. All the facilitators give their time for nothing. Doing the unconference is good for us and we learn. If you can do it, you should. They can be pop up events whenever. The L&D Connect Friday morning Twitter chat on hashtag #ldinsight is with a rich and diverse range of folk so this is a natural extension.

“It’s about giving people permission. We had two large corporate companies say that they’d like to attend the unconference, but weren’t sure what it was and if they could come. They felt that they needed to justify a £60 ticket as they didn’t know what the unconference was. People can feel curious, confused, overwhelmed or lost. There’s a safety and security of a mapped conference.

“The unconference can be anything. Put a good team together, pack it and see what happens! The other side is just fun! There’s a social element, it’s relaxed. People dip in and out. The people that come tend to be curious and innovative. There are luddites, but that are open and honest and want to change,” added Drybrough.

That’s what the unconference is all about, really good quality conversation around topics that the room decides upon.  

For more information visit Eventbrite.co.uk.


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