Adapting Learning in a changing HE environment

The SDF’s annual conference provides a platform for the advancement of learning and development, within the dynamic higher education environment.

This year’s conference, #SDF2017, was held at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham. #SDF2017 attracted attendees from its growing community, who were ready to dive into the five key themes; coaching, enhancing the development toolkit, challenges currently faced, leading differently and the latest learning technology. These themes were explored through key notes, workshops and conference exhibitors from multiple industries linked with learning and development field and professional capacities.

A Successful Conference


The annual SDF conference is a highlight in calendars for many learning and development professionals working in higher education. It serves as a medium to enhance professional and personal best practices and overall performance. It offers an engaging platform for like-minded professionals within the SDF community to network, exchange knowledge and touch base with peers from across the country.

A variety of keynote speakers and workshops were held by some of the UK’s leading universities and thought leaders, each sharing insights on new themes. This year’s conference provided a high level of expertise and enrichment. A highlight of the conference included David Clutterbuck’s keynote on ‘What’s new in coaching and mentoring?’. Glisser’s digital Q&A feature proved a huge success during David’s keynote. In total, 48 questions were asked during the session. Delegates submitted questions via the Glisser app, with moderators forwarding the most relevant to David, thus ensuring the session was as productive and beneficial as possible. Outstanding questions were subsequently answered post-event by David, ensuring that each member of SDF community had their question answered. Given the close-knit nature of the SDF community, this helped each member felt equally engaged and a valued part of the discussion.

Glisser’s impact:


Having experienced the benefits of Glisser in BETT 2017, SDF was eager to make #SDF2017 different from previous years. In line with the themes of the conference, it was decided to introduce event technology to enhance the communication and engagement between the SDF community and the presenters, and the overall interactivity of the conference. Glisser gave delegates the opportunity to try a new tool for learning and development events, experiencing first-hand how interactive the products was.

Glisser’s award-winning technology provided this platform. Live slide sharing content directly to delegates devices via a URL alleviated concerns of adopting new technology. Within the first hour, 98% of delegates engaged with Glisser, significantly increasing engagement with content throughout the conference. The vast majority of SDF’s community were using Glisser for the first time. This can be put down to the simplicity and ease of use of Glisser’s user interface.

As touched upon above, the digital Q&A function of Glisser was incredibly popular, enabling smooth interaction between the presenter and the audience for the first time. A popular feature off the back of Q&A sessions was the word cloud that highlighted the most debated and crowdsourced words in a visual format. Benefits of word clouds include increased engagement, emotional connection and quickly indicate the essential themes.

In addition to driving discussion, SDF was excited to gather event feedback from their community through live polling, both during the event and post-event. From the data gathered, SDF is now able to help shape the content for future conferences and monthly Twitter conversations on coaching organised by the SDF (#coachinghe) from what the SDF community found most captivating and beneficiary. Post-conference feedback rates at #SDF2017 were just under 50% compared to traditional average survey rates of 10-15%.

The Breakdown:


Breakdown of participation during the two-day conference:

  • 98% of delegates engaged and participated
  • Over 1800 total interactions
  • Over 1100 poll votes
  • Over 100 questions asked

The Staff Development Forum’s annual conference provides a platform for the advancement of learning and development, within the dynamic higher education environment.

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