Virtual School Meanderings

April 10, 2021

Co-designing the next normal of European institutions of higher education – Ulf-Daniel Ehlers and Laura Eigbrecht

An item from our European colleagues.

April 2021 

“Co-designing the next normal of European institutions of higher education –
what do students hope, fear and wish for?”

EDEN recommends the newest blog post of EDEN EC member Ulf-Daniel Ehlers and Laura Eigbrecht. 

Almost 20 years ago I had my first presence at an EDEN event and presented research which – at that time as a young researcher – was fascinating me enormously: Exploring the students’ views to find out how learning should be. Now, 20 years down the road it appears that this perspective seems to have gained importance again. The Covid 19 shutdown has challenged students, as well as higher education institutions across Europe, to quickly adapt to a new learning and teaching situation at home, one that is characterized by digitization and distance learning. In this process, new teaching and learning methods have been introduced and tried out. While the teachers’ situation was immediately addressed by support measures, the difficulties faced by students were not initially considered.

In this situation, we wanted to give students a voice: to be heard in Germany, to be able to talk about their situation of studying at home, and to be heard in Europe while staying in shutdown. Two podcast series were born in an instant and started live, immediately two weeks after closing the universities. The goal of our podcast series “Studium im Shutdown” and “NextNormal” has been to engage in direct conversation with students. This is in line with student-centred research and teaching that we are – still today, 20 years after “Quality from a learner’s perspective” – conducting in the NextEducation group.

In “Studium im Shutdown”, we’ve talked to students from Germany about their personal study situation from the very beginning of the shutdown, and we’ve taken a more European and even more future-oriented perspective with “NextNormal”, talking to students from all over Europe about their vision for the future of higher education. How do students actually perceive the current situation and their studies? And above all: Do students feel they have their say at all, and are their problems heard and sufficiently addressed? Where do they need concrete support by higher education institutions? Through this dialogue with students, we have found that the experiences and demands articulated by the students can be used in order to draw conclusions about future-proof university teaching.

Read more


Professor for Educational Management and Lifelong Learning, Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University, Germany.
Ulf will be a keynote at the EDEN 2021 Virtual Annual Conference on 21-24 June, hosted by the National Distance Education University UNED, Madrid.
To find out about his books (“Future Skills: Lernen der Zukunft – Hochschule der Zukunft” pictured and more) please click here.

EDEN 30th Anniversary – Three decades of serving modernisation in education
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EDEN is supported by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union. The publication reflects the authors’ view, the EACEA and the European Commission are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
The European Distance and E-Learning Network is co-operating with EDEN Digital Learning Europe MTÜ (Estonia), in order to sustain the legacy of the EDEN Association brand after the United Kingdom having left the EU, to ensure continuity of services and activities for the benefit of the European academic and professional community in open, distance and online learning.

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AERA 2021 – A Newcomer’s Lens: A Look at K-12 Online and Blended Learning in the Journal of Online Learning Research

Less than an hour ago, my colleagues and I finished our paper (and my final) presentation for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.  Here is the asynchronous version of that presentation.

Abstract: In this study, the authors analyzed 51 articles published between 2015 and 2018 inclusive in the Journal of Online Learning Research (JOLR). The purpose of this study was to examine the trends regarding article topics, geography, research methods and article types, authorship, and citation frequency. The results indicated JOLR gave additional attention to K-12 blended learning. Another common topic was professional development. Most studies were focused on the US. Future research is needed to examine if the trends from this study continue over a more extended period and if these results reflect the development of and change in the field of K-12 online and blended learning.


  • Hu Min, Brigham Young University
  • Karen T Arnesen, Brigham Young University
  • Michael K Barbour, Touro University California
  • Heather Leary, Brigham Young University

Slides available at

April 9, 2021

Report Overpromises in Its Advocacy for Teacher Micro-Credentials

A think tank report review from the National Education Policy Center.

April 8, 2021

Michelle Renée Valladares: (720) 505-1958,
Elena Aydarova: (334) 844-7784,

Report Overpromises in Its Advocacy for Teacher Micro-Credentials

An NEPC Review funded by the Great Lakes Center

Key Takeaway: New America report lacks validity and reliability in promoting the benefits of micro-credentials in place of traditional professional development.

EAST LANSING, MI (April 8, 2021) – New America recently published a report, Harnessing Micro-Credentials for Teacher Growth: A National Review of Early Best Practices, that champions ways that micro-credentials have been used to allow teachers to move up the career ladder, receive higher pay, or renew their licenses.

Elena Aydarova of Auburn University reviewed the report and found scarce evidence to support its ambitious claims of how micro-credentials could remedy the shortfalls of traditional professional development for teachers.

The report, along with an accompanying implementation guide, offers recommendations for how to implement and integrate micro-credentials into states’ human resources systems.

However, Professor Aydarova explains, without incorporating any of the extensive research-based knowledge on teaching, effective professional development, and teacher effectiveness policies, the report fails to recognize that micro-credential use alone does not improve teaching or student learning. This can create problems rather than provide solutions. Moreover, the report’s implementation guide starts with the idealistic assumption that states, districts, and school leaders have the capacity to select and ensure the high quality of micro-credentials before they are offered to teachers.

Professor Aydarova also points out that the primary role of micro-credentials is to assess whether teachers have acquired a particular skill, so they require additional resources to provide teachers with opportunities to develop that skill. Since micro-credentials on their own cannot provide opportunities for teacher growth and require the existence of effective professional development systems to work, the report’s title and guidelines are misleading.

Even if implemented, Professor Aydarova concludes, the report’s plan for expanding the use of micro-credentials could not deliver on its promises.

Find the review, by Elena Aydarova, at:

Find Harnessing Micro-credentials for Teacher Growth: A National Review of Early Best Practices, written by Melissa Tooley and Joseph Hood and published by New America, at:

NEPC Reviews ( provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at:

About The Great Lakes Center
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform. Visit the Great Lakes Center Web Site at: Follow us on Twitter at: Find us on Facebook at:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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Article Notice – Mattering is Motivating: Special Education Students’ Experiences with an Online Charter School

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 8:03 am
Tags: , , , , ,

This article scrolled through one of my open scholarship network feeds the other day.

  • December 2020
  • Stacie Mason
  • Delaina Tonks
  • Royce Kimmons
Abstract – In the U.S., K–12 special education students are increasingly enrolling in online schools in hopes of improved opportunities and outcomes. In this study, researchers interviewed five special education students enrolled in a targeted online school, along with their parents (n = 9), to better understand their motivations for enrolling and their experiences of what worked for them in the unique setting. Students and parents explained how their prior schools had not worked for them, and how the online school better met their needs for self-determination, mattering, differentiation, and positive socialization. Results are intended to inform policymakers and stakeholders in online schools to provide the best learning opportunities for special education students.

Michael, people are reading your work

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 6:02 am
Tags: , , , , ,

An item from one of my open scholarship networks.

Michael K. Barbour
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