Our Clients - GoodPractice

A digital learning first for the University of Bristol

GoodPractice and the University of Bristol worked together to create an online learning tool for academic, professional services and technical staff. In its freshman year, the platform has far exceeded expectations. Here's how.

THE organisation

- Ranked in the top 50 universities in the world, the University of Bristol employs over 6,000 people.

- Founded in 1876, it's renowned for cutting-edge research in areas such as climate change, cryptography and nanotechnology.


“A highly motivated and energised workforce is a prerequisite for achieving our ambitions. We must recruit, develop and retain the best academic and professional services staff and provide them with a challenging, high-performing and supportive environment.” 

Professor Guy Orpen, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost, University of Bristol 

In 2016, the university launched a new strategy which identified 'Staff and Ways of Working' as one of its key pillars to nurture individual excellence, unlock the full potential of its employees and focus on leadership and management development.

To help achieve this, the Staff Development (SD) team wanted to extend their existing L&D activities to include more meaningful opportunities for online learning at work. The team identified that busy workloads, and individual learning preferences meant that formal learning solutions weren't always suitable for university staff. Many were looking for more flexible L&D resources they could access at a time that suited them.

“We wanted an L&D solution that would support and extend upon our face-to-face delivery and offer more scope for people to develop themselves.” 

Ros Hitchen, Leadership and Management Development Manager, University of Bristol 

THE solution

KnowHow is a bespoke, branded version of the GoodPractice toolkit. It lets leaders of academic teams, line managers, senior leaders and their people easily access relevant content, at any time - on any device - at any time.

Employees can access over 2,000 resources when and where they need to. Topics include change management, mentoring and collaborative working. With a mix of media and wide-ranging topics, KnowHow is resonating with staff at all job grades and seniority levels. It blends seamlessly with SD's existing workshops, face-to-face learning and peer network activity. There's also the opportunity for people to explore areas beyond their job remit and learn skills that formal training can't budget for.


The KnowHow toolkit has far exceeded its first-year targets, offering just-in-time online learning that users can access at their own pace. Plus, the SD team continues to work with GoodPractice's team of learning professionals to create timely, relevant content. 

“Because we're all time poor, it's great to have a learning platform staff can use for quick top tips at the time they need, such as before a tricky meeting. The added benefit, particularly in a university setting, is for those that wish to delve deeper, they can follow the links for deeper research on topics.” 

Ros Hitchen, Leadership and Management Development Manager, University of Bristol 

THE results

In its first 12 months, KnowHow has outperformed projections, with nearly one-third of the university's 6,000 employees using the platform. (That's 31% vs the 12.5% target.) In an average month:

- 486 unique learners visit KnowHow vs 275 target
- Users access 1,945 resources vs. 450 target*

The tool is evolving too. Each month, GoodPractice shares user data with the SD team to show which topics and media appeal most to users. That way, they can work together to get the right blend of materials for continuous learning. 

"With GoodPractice, we're buying more than just the resources” 

Bethan Turner, Staff Development Officer, University of Bristol 

The Time to Change campaign is a great example. A curated playlist of top tips article, how-to guides and infographics was created in support of a live event to encourage staff to speak openly about mental health challenges. The campaign got 3,700 views in a single month (well over the monthly target of 275 views).

*Information correct on 30 January 2018.


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