The changes in habits, behaviours and use of technologies caused by the Covid19 lockdown could have a profound effect on our lives, new research has revealed.

Inside Out, who research the design of learning environments, collaborated with Dr Ahmed Hussain, the Executive Director of Wellington College China, to explore his research into the e-learning strategies that have proved most successful over the last three months.

Wellington College China, who returned to school in April, used pupil and teacher surveys, as well as monitoring of learning, to discover what had a positive impact when applied to e-learning. The insights focus on three key areas: learning, independence, and wellbeing; and revealed 20 strategies that could be replicated by UK schools:


  1. Making learning objectives and success criteria even more clear
  2. ‘Chunking’ work
    • -A.k.a. breaking the day down into larger chunks, even more so than at school
  3. Direct input from the teacher, even in video format
  4. Specific face-to-face feedback
  5. Active learning, with pupils given the opportunity to collaborate with their peers in small groups
  6. Co-planning and co-teaching for ‘thematic’ experiences
    • Linking learning with the use of an overarching theme
  7. Providing opportunities for parents to contribute
  8. Grow teacher confidence through training of the various digital platforms needed for e-learning


  1. Helping pupils to organise their learning
    • This could include creating tasks lists, showing how to organise emails, or establishing daily and weekly timetables. Recreating the structure of a normal school day has proved particularly preferable for students.
  2. Reflecting on what conditions and locations are best for pupils
    • When it is most helpful to sit at a desk? Lounge on a sofa? Spread out on the floor? How can you supplement learning with physical activity?
  3. Focused on helping pupils make learning-focused decisions
    • Such as deciding what is best tackled in the morning and what can be left until later in the day
  4. Helping pupils know how and when to ask for help from and support an adult
  5. Celebrating and rewarding examples of resilience, effort and effective learning behaviours, and sharing them with others
  6. Teachers modelling independence such as decision making and problem solving
  7. Providing high levels of input before pupils begin to work remotely or independently
  8. Directly teaching independent behaviours


  1. Providing pastoral systems, such as tutorial time with a focus on wellbeing
  2. Opportunities for structured social interaction between pupils
  3. One-to-one conversations between pupils and tutors focusing on children’s social and emotional state
  4. Encouraging parents to check in on children


Dr Ahmed Hussain comments:

“Education systems in China rarely undertake extended periods of e-learning as the predominate means of supporting pupil learning and development. Therefore, the current context provides an opportunity to explore the experience from the context of pupils and teachers in China.

Initially, it appears that what works best in a classroom environment works best for e-learning.

However, pupil wellbeing appears reduced during e-learning. Whilst schools and their teachers have recognised this, the impact of strategies to mitigate it is currently equivocal. This represents and ongoing challenge for schools, to manage wellbeing when pupils are away from school and to effectively reintroduce pupils to school whilst also building levels of wellbeing.”


David Judge from Inside Out, commented:

“By analysing the successes of Wellington College China, we aim to help the schools throughout the UK, Europe and across the globe which are very much still in the thick of it, trying to navigate a sudden and unprecedented wholesale switchover to e-learning”.

For more information on the research, visit:


About Inside Out (iO)

Inside Out explores learning environment design and its infinite potential to impact everything from student outcomes to wellbeing. It was created by specialists in the design of environments for learning, who in their own right delivered over 450 educational interior projects across the world, including the UK, UAE, Thailand, Malaysia, and China.

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