COVID-19: creating a powerful and social inclusive learning environment at home

In the current phase of the COVID-19 crisis, pupils worldwide are still taking lessons from home and schools gradually open their doors again. Now, more than ever, educational guidance is needed at home, in school and in other places, such as social organisations.

One aspect that often escapes our attention is that of the physical learning environment. To a certain extent this is surprising, because rarely have we seen such a rapid transformation of the places where we learn and teach. At the same time, we can expect that, in the future, innovative ICT-supported learning styles will have greater impact on the layout of physical learning environments. We must not forget that effective ICT-supported learning can only happen within adequate spatial settings. The two are strongly linked.

But physical learning conditions are not the same for everybody. International poverty experts Wim Van Lancker (KULeuven) and Zach Parolin (Colombia University) note in The Lancet Public Health (May 2020): “In Europe, a substantial number of children live in homes in which they have no suitable place to do homework (5%) or have no access to the Internet (7%). Furthermore, 10% of the children live in homes that cannot be heated adequately.” EU-SILC 2018 data shows that 21% of 6  to 11-year-olds and 25% of 12 to 17-year-olds in the EU live in overcrowded dwellings, an important condition that can inhibit effective learning.

On the initiative of the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training, ten experts deliver guidance about powerful learning environments under the COVID-19 lockdown. They explain the basic requirements of a powerful learning environment at home, even in difficult circumstances. In addition, they provide tips on how schools can rethink their learning environments for blended ICT-supported learning. The information can also be useful for schools and child-care-organising “summer schools”, a recent initiative of the Flemish government to compensate for reduced guidance during COVID-19. Also, two handy infographics are available: one for schools and social organisations and one for parents.

For more information:

Other webpages about learning environments at home and in school:


Author: Geert Leemans, PhD, Flemish Ministry of Education and Training, Belgium & Flemish Commission for UNESCO

Co-researchers:

  • Charlotte Arnou, lector, KU Leuven and Schoolmakers CVBA
  • Inge Nuyens, learning environments consultant and CEO DOX NV
  • Prof. dr. Jo Tondeur, Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Multidisciplinary Institute for Teacher Education (MILO)
  • Prof. dr. Gustaaf Cornelis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Multidisciplinary Institute for Teacher Education (MILO) and Universiteit Antwerpen
  • Prof. dr. Joost Vaesen, Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Multidisciplinary Institute for Teacher Education (MILO)
  • Prof. dr. Maarten Van Den Driessche, Ghent University, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture
  • Prof. dr. Martin Valcke, Ghent University, Department of Educational Studies
  • Prof. dr. Jan Elen, KU Leuven, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences