Design Principles for Learning Cafe UnConference 2013. Feb 21, Sydney.

Learning Cafe UnConference Venue

The 2nd Learning Café UnConference is not far away. Come 21 Feb, 2013 a bunch of experienced and passionate learning professionals will descend on the Australian Technology Park in Sydney for a day of discussion and debate on themes and issues critical for our profession. Before we explore how we fine-tuned the UnConference this year let us revisit the question “why UnConference”?

The UnConference is an event where practising experienced L&D professionals have an opportunity to discuss the big issues and questions to create a “point of view” or thought leadership. It provides an opportunity to hear better practices, challenges, stories and lessons learn is an “safe” environment.

Design Principles

Big questions and contemporary topics – Topics are contemporary and discuss some big questionsThe discussions are facilitated (not presented) by experienced L&D professionals including:

  • Informal Learning -Keep L&D Away
  • Making Learning – Design Agile
  • L&D Better – Outside of HR?
  • Can L&D Ever Know Business?
  • And 12 more sessions.

Pure & quality (not quantity) discussion – The emphasis is on pure discussion with no sales messages. The UnConference wants to keep out “selling messages” which sometimes explicitly or implicitly influences what is talked about a conference. The number for participants is limited to enable intimate and quality discussions. In the future it is likely that there will be more people wanting to attend than places available and we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Reduced expertise distance – Our base design principle is that all participants have expertise and insights to share which are valuable to everyone. The idea is to avoid having an “expert” stand up and address an audience. The sessions are structured so that the majority of the time is set aside for a discussion. Opportunities such as the “open sessions” (soapbox) are available for any participant to speak up on any topic relevant to them and the audience.

Cost effective professional development event – This learning event is a cost effective professional development day for L&D professionals. It is a very much back to basics – it will be unglamorous and workman (or workperson) like.

2013 Design Changes

Last year the UnConference was successful (95% of participants indicated they would like to come back). One participant commented that his “brain got fried”. We are hoping for the same but gentler effect this year. As a result the day is crammed with “goodies” from last year including facilitated discussions, open session (soap box). Changes introduced this year include

  •  Now includes a panel discussion and working session for the development of an open source framework.
  • Based on the feedback of the participants, reduced the number of concurrent facilitated sessions (from 20 to 16) and increased the time (from 20 -30 mins), which will allow exploration of each topic in greater depth.
  • A more deliberate strategy to capture and synthesise the knowledge generated, which will be covered in another blog post.

There still a few seats left if you or someone you know is interested in joining us on 21 Feb 2013. Here is to looking forward to a cracking day

Design Principles for Learning Cafe UnConference 2013. Feb 21, Sydney.