LearningCafe UnConference is pivoting to the Enterprise Learning Confluence

The LearningCafe UnConference has over the last 6 years become a regular fixture in the L&D professional development calendar with a reputation for high-quality content and presenters scoring above 4.15/5 for the past six and selling out. So why the pivot?

It ain’t broken but we fixed the UnConference. 

The reason – Learning in the workplace has become critical to business success but L&D is not adapting fast enough. The new focus and format are designed to help L&D, acquire new skillsets and mindset.

What is changing?

More focus on skill acquisition – Skills and knowledge development in the form of workshops. The 1-hour session will comprise of three stages 1. Raising awareness through primer 2. Experiencing through a mini-workshop/demo 3. Gaining insights through a panel discussion on the practical impact ie use case, budget and opportunities.

LearningCafe Confluence

Target Audience – Learning Professionals interested in the management and design of organisational Learning including Learning Manager, Business Partners, Project Managers, Team Leads, Learning Technologists.

Research-Based Content – We are including more research-based content and involving experts in the fields. 

Venue – We have a more space and easily accessible venue – UTS Aerial.

What is not changing?

UnConference format – While the format remains one focussed on the discussion (UnConference format) we have pivoted in the following ways.

Emphasis on Quality and Value Add -For over five years, LearningCafe has been working on providing unhindered clarity to HR/L&D about the direction and pathways to develop future skills. The LearningCafe UnConference is recognized as one of the best professional development events in Australia known for its innovative structure, quality of content and leading L&D facilitators. 




What is an Unconference?

This event will be very different to any standard conference you have been to before.  If you are not sure what an unconference is, start here

There are a number of key differences between a standard conference and an unconference including:

  • The agenda is driven by the attendees, not the event organisers.  This means that the event is highly interactive and participative and whilst there will be industry experts and thought leaders in attendance, they are not driving the agenda, or, as is typical with a normal conference, delivering long, one way presentations.
  • The event is collaborative. Attendees will get involved not only in discussions on the day but also in the organisation of the event should they wish.  If you have a specific issue you would like to address in this forum, then simply get involved and suggest it!

The format of the event is very different too.  The day will be broken up into a number of free-flowing discussion groups based around subjects as suggested by the attendees in the lead up to the unconference.  Unlike a normal conference, these groups will be small and you are free to move between them at any time.  If the conversation is not value added for you, simply get up and move onto the next!

How is LearningCafe UnConference different?

The UnConference is all about a freewheeling exchange of ideas, learning experiences and best practices with senior practitioners and thought leaders in Australia. It is a unique gathering of experienced professionals, who collaborate, discuss and share knowledge around workplace learning.We discuss what’s relevant and not what’s sponsored. Limited to 110-130 participants, the UnConference has always had its focus on quality and personalisation enabling quality discussions, answering some of the big questions on current opportunities and challenges faced by HR/L&D profession. It has been receiving a rating of 4.25/5 over the last 5 years for its unique and innovative learning approach designed exclusively for the L&D.

  • Big questions and contemporary topics – Topics are contemporary and discuss some big questions
  • Facilitation, Not Presentation – The discussions are facilitated (not presented) by experienced L&D professionals include:
  • 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 45 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 will be valuable to everyone. The idea is to avoid have an “expert” stand up and address an audience via powerpoint. 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.
  • Informal Learning and the balance between structure and “unstructure” – This UnConference has a bit of structure as it is the first one. The intention is to have less structure next year as we explore “participant driven agenda” and leverage informal and community learning models.
  • Outcome driven learning event – The output from the UnConference will be a position paper which will be released to the wider learning community in Australia. The outcome driven agenda will encourage the discussions to be more focussed.


Discussion Sessions

12 discussion sessions of 40 minutes each. Facilitators are free to use their own structure / agenda as long as it adds value and encourages discussion.

  • Facilitator makes opening remarks and their point of view (POV) about the topic.
  • Talk about current issues, advances and trends.
  • Open and facilitate a discussion on the “big questions” on the topic.
  • When you near the end of the allocated time – summarise the discussion.
  • The summary will be shared in the synthesis session.

Learning Labs

Learning Labs essentially comprises of organisations talking about substantial business issues in learning and crowdsource solutions from participants.

  • We are hoping that presenters can walk away with some ideas, suggestions and hopefully even solutions that they can implement in their organisations.
  • The ideas, suggestions and solutions should be grounded in the realities of organisational constraints such as limited resources, workload pressures and existing capabilities. Please note that if your suggestion does not fit into the context or will not work, the facilitator can move to the next suggestion.” Please avoid suggesting specific offerings from vendors.

Immersion Labs

Immersion Labs are a “hands on” exploration of some newer tools available to us.

  • It is OK if you don’t understand all of what is going on or don’t “get it”. The idea is get a taste so that you can explore in more detail, in your own time.
  • You can participate using your own laptop or tablet or you may choose to watch someone else sitting close to you or to form a group. Internet connectivity is provided however the speed may vary.


We take a problem and try and solve it in the Hackathon by crowd sourcing solutions. 

  • 15 mins – To generate 10 to 12 suggestions at the breakout rooms
  • 5 mins – Give one point each to 5 suggestions. Add up and identify top 5 suggestions.
  • 15 mins – Go to main room, Facilitator to share top 5 suggestions.
  • 5 mins – Talk about next steps

Open Session

The open session is essentially a soap box (4 mins each), an opportunity to raise issues or express your opinion pertaining to learning, as long as it fits into the scope of the UnConference. It is not necessary to prepare, you can speak up about an idea or question that you may have in mind.

Panel Discussion

If you have any questions for panel discussions please let the organizers know.