Top 10 COVID “Good Reads” from 2021: A Story of Numbers, Narratives and Rich Insights

Following last week’s release of our “good reads” for 2021 in the more general area of Digital Learning, we are pleased to share with you a separate collection of articles with a specific COVID-related focus. As evidenced by the COVID-19 Higher Education Literature Database (CHELD) (Butler-Henderson, et al., 2021), a wealth of literature has been published since March 2020 reporting on the world’s response to the COVID crisis. Indeed, Version 2 of the CHELD database, which contains publications up  to  30th  June  2021, lists 738 journal articles with a COVID-related learning and teaching focus. 

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Special Issue Journals 

Further evidence of the academic and research community’s response to documenting the impact of the pandemic is apparent through the number of COVID-related special issue journals published over this period. Some of the [open access] special issue journals published over 2021 appears below:

Special issues related to the COVID pandemic also featured in several traditionally restricted access publications, although some articles in these journals were openly available. A selection of journals published in 2021 includes…

The Irish Experience

Two of the above journals contain a collection of articles specific to the Irish context. While there have been several reports published by government agencies and professional bodies on the Irish experience during the pandemic (e.g., ISSE, IUA, National Forum, QQI), a recently published journal article by Cullinan et al. (2021) adopts an interesting methodology to illustrate how the lack of Internet access impacted on the quality of student learning. Despite its focus on Irish higher education, the methodology and more particularly the findings are likely to resonate with educators working at other levels in both developed and developing countries. For this reason, we recommend the following article to you…

  • Cullinan, J., Flannery, D., Harold, J., Lyons, S., & Palcic, D. (2021). The disconnected: COVID-19 and disparities in access to quality broadband for higher education students. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 18 (26),

Contributing to New Knowledge

Last year, in producing our 2020 collection of COVID-related “good reads”, we noted the risk of becoming swamped in ‘special issue’ journals, which may do little to contribute to new knowledge. This comment was made in the context of ‘Emergency Remote Teaching’ and what appeared at the time to be efforts to reinvent the ‘online learning’ wheel in early COVID-related publications. More specifically, we noted the tendency to ignore or give little regard to the wealth of pre-existing theoretical and empirical literature in the field of online distance education.

While this year’s analysis of the literature suggests more evidence of past work informing current research, there is still a question of whether we are using the best theories and asking the right questions.

Reeves and Lin (2020) in an article we profiled last year raised this concern and Castaneda and Williamson (2021) reiterate the point in their call for more critical research on educational technology in post-pandemic times. Arguably, there is a danger of what some call ‘learnification’ where too much focus is being placed on the ‘how’ and teaching is being reduced to a series of handy hints intended to promote student engagement. Therefore, in selecting our list of “good reads” for 2021 we paid particular attention to the types of questions being investigated and the potential to challenge conventional wisdom and open new avenues of knowledge.

We wish to emphasise this point as sharing our NIDL “good reads” always runs the risk of being perceived as nothing more than academic grandstanding and an opportunist publicity stunt.

This criticism is something that we are conscious of even though our underlying motivation in taking considerable time and effort to critically review the published literature is:

  • to enhance our own depth of understanding
  • to help promote a culture of professional reading 
  • to provide a service to the wider research and professional community

This third point is one of the reasons why we support our top 10 “good reads” with details around the selection methodology and a narrative explaining and justifying each article. The “good reads” do not just select themselves and feedback suggests that both readers and authors representing the chosen works appreciate this narrative and our own constructive insights. Speaking of authors, we also like to think the exercise helps to acknowledge their valuable contribution to the field and brings more attention to other good reads by the same research teams that might not be known to everyone. 

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

On a related point, however, there is emerging evidence of the academic ‘gaming’ of the COVID experience, as evidenced through an interesting analysis of educator tweeting during early days of the pandemic.

Carpenter et al. (2021) report that alongside and sometimes entangled with information broadcasting and knowledge sharing, “…there was also a great deal of self-promotion” (p. 1).

We are probably guilty of engaging in some of this activity ourselves in sharing news of several COVID-related projects that our NIDL team has undertaken. Accordingly, we have taken care in this year’s selections not to promote any of our own research or development activities and to give particular attention to reporting major literature reviews, insightful institutional case studies and personal narratives that offer valuable lessons for practitioners, educational leaders and/or policy makers. We trust there is something for most people amongst our top 10 COVID “good reads” and they alert or help to steer educators to some publications that may be new to them. 

The Top 10 Articles

We have chosen not to rank the top 10 articles that follow as this would be counterproductive to the purpose of this exercise. Instead, the order they appear below reflects the narrative we have chosen to write to help connect the research and to explain why each article was selected. We begin by introducing several major literature reviews and then shift to the voice of educational leaders and more insightful personal narratives, ending with some valuable institutional case studies.

In total, the top 10 articles represent the works of 46 authors from 11 countries, with 34 residing in the UK and Europe. . 

Thus, there is a strong Northern Hemisphere bias to the “good reads” as a further seven authors reside in Canada or the United States. Although we strive to offer some diversity in our selections, with a short-list of 43 articles identified for closer ‘slow’ review, three of the “good reads” in the final list come from one journal. However, in terms of diversity, the contributing authors in these three articles are spread across the UK, Germany, Spain and Korea. Another two articles are drawn from three journals respectively, which means that the top 10 selections come from only five journals, partly a reflection of the special issue factor. One article is produced by a single UK author, another is co-authored by two Korean colleagues and eight are written by multiple authors, which does help to enhance the broader representation of the literature.

Crompton, H., Burke, D., Jordan, K., & Wilson, S. (2021). Learning with technology during emergencies: A systematic review of K-12 education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 52 (4), 1554-1575.

This article recognises that technology is often utilised in response to a crisis and the COVID pandemic is not unique in this respect. What makes this study unique is that it reviews the K-12 literature on remote education during an emergency prior to the pandemic. The article provides a systematic review of the literature for 11 years up until December 2020. Adopting the PRISMA selection process, the review includes 60 articles from 48 countries. Notably, most of this literature reports localised emergencies rather than anything on the scale of the COVID crisis, but this does not prevent the study from identifying a set of useful recommendations for teachers, school leaders, policy makers, and funders. A number of gaps are also noted in the literature, including the lack of research arising from the experience in developing countries.  Notwithstanding this point, we selected this article as it provides a useful baseline of research on emergency remote education. 

Khan, M.A. (2021). COVID-19’s impact on higher education: A rapid review of early reactive literature. Education Sciences, 11 (8), 421.

This article reports an early rapid review of the COVID-related literature focusing on learning, teaching, and assessment approaches in higher education. It adopts a clearly outlined methodology to synthesise findings from peer-reviewed articles which report on the experience immediately following the start of the pandemic. The research objective was: (i) to summarize the impact of COVID-19 as reported in currently available studies; (ii) to investigate the measures which were put in place following the lockdown of educational institutions; and (iii) to assess gaps in knowledge and understanding and identify possible future research directions. The sample of literature totalling 39 studies was published between March 1st 2020 and July 10th 2020. Notably, two independent assessors evaluated the search results, although they are not formally acknowledged at the end of the article. Not surprisingly, the early literature is dominated by US articles (n=11), with China (n=5) and multiple country papers (n=5) making up the second-largest source of studies.

The review stands out for its focus on assessment and how changes in teaching delivery have required people to collaborate at different levels in educational institutions. It also gives consideration to how people from Black, Asian, and Minority groups (BAME) are more likely to be seriously impacted by the pandemic and calls for more targeted support and research in this area. In a similar vein, the review notes the need for more research on lesser developed countries along with the importance of hearing the student’s voice. 

Bond, M., Bedenlier, S., Marín, V.I., Händel, M. (2021). Emergency remote teaching in higher education: Mapping the first global online semester. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 18 (50).

This article responds to a plethora of studies now investigating a range of topics related to the move to emergency remote teaching, especially over the first semester. The review is framed by three well-crafted research questions: (i) Where, when and by whom has research on teaching and learning in higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic been published? (ii) What are the characteristics of, methods used, and topics studied in teaching and learning research in higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic?(iii) What technology has been used during emergency remote teaching in higher education?

Once again, guided by the PRISMA reporting guidelines, the study reports a systematic mapping review that describes 282 primary empirical studies with a higher education focus. Therefore, the sample of this review is considerably larger than Khan (2021) reports in the previous article, which is partly explained by a close off date in the first week of December 2020. Notably, as the author team is trilingual, studies written in English, German or Spanish were targeted for potential inclusion using language-specific databases. In total, the review is sourced from 155 unique journals and reports the work of 1,019 authors across 73 countries. Leximancer is used to present various characteristics of the sample which enhances the article’s readability and interpretation of the findings.

Reiterating an earlier concern, only 10% of the of studies in this sample adopted a theoretical framework. This finding along with other methodological weaknesses led the authors to conclude that emergency remoted teaching resulted in “emergency remote research”. Another finding is that educators appear to have employed synchronous delivery and collaboration tools as they “…had the urge to re-create communication and interaction situations that are found during in-person lessons on campus” (p. 19). The review raises several questions for the future about whether we can expect the greater digital transformation of the sector, especially given the relatively limited range of educational technologies used to support teaching, learning and assessment. 

Laufer, M., Leiser, A., Deacon, B., de Brichambaut, P.P., Fecher, B., Kobsda, C., & Hesse, F. (2021). Digital higher education: A divider or bridge builder? Leadership perspectives on edtech in a COVID-19 reality. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 18 (51).

This article begins with the premise that the direct positive relationship between educational technology and ‘better’ education has yet to be established, suggesting that other factors are also important in the digital transformation of education. The study is designed around two research questions: (i) Does the rapid digital push during the COVID-19 pandemic evoke positive and sustainable development for digital teaching and learning? (ii) How did higher education leaders experience the opportunities and barriers that arose during the rapid digital turn, specifically related to the edtech promises of access, learning outcomes, and collaboration?

While these are quite broad and challenging questions to answer the study reports the findings from three data collection cycles involving surveys and interviews with a total sample of 85 participants from 24 countries. Participants were educational leaders recruited through purposeful and snowball sampling, with data collection taking place between June and November 2020. Based on their diverse experiences, the article acknowledges that context is crucial as institutions have different starting points, barriers and constraints, and so on, which means there is “…there is no one-fits-all solution around digital learning” (p. 5).

The findings are presented according to micro (individual experience) and meso (institutions/systems) dimensions, with the authors illustrating the multiple layers that shape the ability to realise the potential of digital education. Not surprisingly, they identify from both the Global North and South how lack of access to technology and a stable internet connection is a major individual-level barrier. A myriad of issues is reported for women along with generational differences providing evidence of systemic inequalities. While the study is very broad and high-level, the rich inclusion of direct quotes from a diverse range of participants helps to illustrate the complexity of successfully implementing educational technology for learners, teachers, and institutions. This is the major contribution the paper makes to the literature. 

Jandrić, P., Bozkurt, A., McKee, M., Hayes, S. (2021). Teaching in the age of Covid-19 – A longitudinal study. Postdigital Science and Education, 3, 743–770.

This article offers a richer and more compelling global account and analysis of the COVID pandemic experience in terms of the impact on teaching and learning. It syntheses short testimonies and case material presented in two articles written one year apart from each other by a group of 84 authors from 20 countries. In the first article, our colleague Dr Jones Irwin provides one of 81 textual testimonies sharing his personal reflections and workspace photo submitted at the end of March 2020 (Jandrić, et al., 2020). Similarly, Dr Michael Hogan from the School of Psychology at NUIG shares his reflections from an Irish perspective.

The second article also consists of short testimonies and workspace photographs this time collected between March and May 2021 (Jandrić, et al., 2021). There are 74 testimonies with once again insightful contributions from two Irish colleagues, with Dr Irwin from DCU’s Institute of Education trying to find positives amidst the pain. Taken together the testimonies provide a valuable historical account of the response to the pandemic in the words of each author.

This latest article treats the testimonies as personal narratives, while also trying to make sense of them as a form of data. As data, the authors suggest they provide a much larger, powerful commentary on the COVID experience across the globe during this pandemic. The article is unique for the way it invites the reader to use both lens and endeavours to maintain a dialogic quality by giving voice to each author. While you need to read the description of the text and image analysis carefully not to lose a sense of the personal and emotional quality of the narratives, the interpretation of the data is anchored in the understanding that words gain meaning from the contexts in which they are used; and secondly that all knowledge is socially constructed.

Accordingly, the authors ask how does data and narrative interact in a unique study of this type, which they call a postdigital methodology of data-narrato-logy. The final section of the paper is quite theoretical in terms of exploring what data-narrato-logy might look like and might be more relevant to researchers than practitioners. In carefully following this line of discussion, there is a question of why the authors did not offer their analysis and (re)interpretation of the data to the 84 participants as a third round of critical reflections. This might be the next step to help extend and enhance the trustworthiness of the analysis, especially given the commitment to collaborative writing and shared voice. 

VanLeeuwen, C., Veletsianos, G., Johnson, N., & Belikov, O. (2021). Never-ending repetitiveness, sadness, loss, and “juggling with a blindfold on:” Lived experiences of Canadian college and university faculty members during the COVID-19 pandemic. British Journal of Educational Technology, 52 (4), 1306-1322.

This article tells an insightful story of the lived experiences of Canadian faculty members during the early months of the pandemic. It adds an even stronger human dimension to the above studies  by reporting vivid descriptions of academics’ experiences of their upended work lives from home offices whilst teaching geographically dispersed students. Adopting a phenomenological approach, the article is based 20 in-depth interviews with faculty holding varied academic appointments at universities across Canada. What will resonate with many educators is how the early months of the pandemic were exhausting and at times overwhelming, with as the authors describe “…a cycle of never-ending repetitiveness, sadness and loss, or managing life, teaching and other professional responsibilities with little sense of direction” (p. 1306).

In light of the methodological failings of a plethora of “emergency remote research” identified by Bond et al. (2021) in one of the above articles, this study stands out for being anchored in a solid phenomenological method which, despite the small sample, paints a very real and compelling picture of faculty experiences that serve to remind us what it felt like to live through this time. It makes a valuable contribution to the published literature by providing a holistic view of the pandemic experience, going beyond the transactional activity of merely continuing to deliver the curriculum. For this reason, the article may well be frequently cited by educational historians as a valuable primary source record of the COVID pandemic over the next century.

Littlejohn, A, Gourlay, L, Kennedy, E, Logan, K, Neumann, T, Oliver, M, Potter, J., & Rode, JA. (2021). Moving teaching online: Cultural barriers experienced by university teachers during Covid-19. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, (1): 7, 1–15.

This article provides an interesting institutional case study on the experiences of academics and professional service staff at University College London during first weeks of the move to online teaching and working from home during the pandemic. Similar to the first article in our collection of “good reads”, the paper begins by reminding us that this is not the first time higher education institutions have had to shift their practices in response to a crisis, noting the SARS outbreak, the 9/11 terrorist attack and Hurricane Sandy (unofficially known as Superstorm Sandy). The difference they suggest is that this crisis is on a global scale and there may be no return to the previous ‘normal’.

A unique aspect of this study is that it involved a survey where university staff were invited to share an image that represented their experience of working from home under the lockdown. Participants were also asked to comment on the image and write short narratives about their experiences of teaching, research and working from home. Data from 412 survey responses and 32 follow-up interviews are reported as the authors trace the varying ways people characterised themselves during the first months of lockdown (from March to July 2020). Arguably, the image analysis is contextually richer than the text and images analysed by Jandrić et al. (2021) as the narrative is linked to the image and reflects the story from a single institution.

It is noteworthy that the findings highlight how institutional support services “…underwent a metamorphosis to support the transition to online teaching” (p. 1). This adds a further layer to understanding the institutional response to the crisis, but the study also reports that insufficient attention was given to the ‘identity crisis and threats perceived by academic staff who had limited online teaching experience. Amplifying the findings of other research, the authors report how teaching staff tended to focus on transferring their traditional ways of teaching to the online environment, as opposed to more fundamentally changing teaching practice. Thus, traditional face-to-face teaching was used as the default model for emergency remote teaching. While this finding adds to the weight of evidence showing how pre-existing beliefs and pedagogical approaches mediated practice during the COVID crisis, the study goes further by raising the significance of cultural barriers as persistent obstacles in adopting more productive engagement with new models of digital education.

At the same time, the research reports that there were limited resources available to learn how to teach online with a short timescale and institutional policies and infrastructure had not been developed to support the pivot to emergency remote and online working. As a result, such efforts were challenging for staff who often did not have dedicated workspace at home and for those with caring responsibilities. Coupled with the extra support needed by students during the crisis, these factors contributed to added emotional dimension to already-full workloads. The authors conclude with several broad recommendations noting how several forms of disadvantage need to be acknowledged and supported if universities wish to create a sustainable and just working environment.

Lee, J., & Jung, I. (2021). Instructional changes instigated by university faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic: The effect of individual, course and institutional factors. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 18 (52).

This article offers a contrast to the narratives presented in the two above papers by providing a statistical analysis of quantitative data collected through an online survey. The contrast between numbers and narrative—for better and worse—along with the context of the study which involved a sample of 201 South Korean university faculty considered to be at the beginner level of online teaching, are the main reasons we chose to include this article.

The study adopts Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory as an umbrella framework, placing a strong focus on the relationship between individual experience and interactions with surrounding contexts. It also draws (uncritically) on several other theories and models related to technology adoption to support the analysis. The research is designed around two main research questions: (i) To what extent did university faculty change their emergency online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic? (ii) How did factors at the individual, course, and institutional levels contribute to the changes that faculty instituted in their emergency online teaching? Data collection was from May 2020 to July 2020, although the paper is short on details in terms of how participants were invited to contribute to the study. Unfortunately, despite reporting a breakdown of demographic data, this shortcoming in terms of documenting the sample recruitment process, with little contextual analysis, limits the weight that can be given to the findings.

The results show, nevertheless, that few faculty engaged in critical course redesign and ‘redefinition’ through new digitally enhanced teaching and learning approaches was rare.  Moreover, there was limited evidence of changes in beliefs about online teaching, which supports previous research showing that new educational technology is typically mediated by, and assimilated within, pre-existing pedagogical beliefs (see for example, Tondeur, et al., 2017). The study also offers several theoretical and practical implications. Firstly, theoretically, it is important to recognise that planned voluntary adoption of new educational technology is different from urgent change required in the face of a crisis. Secondly, the authors recognise that the method applied in this study is insensitive to capturing faculty beliefs or subsequent changes in their beliefs. They conclude that a more phenomenological methodological approach is required, pointing towards a valuable line of future inquiry and highlighting the need for more longitudinal research, which combines numbers with narratives.

Rapanta, C., Botturi, L., Goodyear, P., Guardia, L., & Koole, M. (2021). Balancing technology, pedagogy and the new normal: Post-pandemic challenges for higher education. Postdigital Science and Education, 3, 715–742.

This article helps to advance the COVID story by looking at the experience one year on, with the intention of understanding how to bridge the gap between online and in-person teaching beyond the pandemic. It follows up on a paper identified in last year’s list of “good reads” by the same authors reporting four expert interviews. In contrast to what Bond et al. (2021) reports in one of the above articles, the paper begins by suggesting there is increased openness due to the COVID crisis towards learning innovation that was not as evident before. Accordingly, the article is refreshingly built around the language of opportunity and sets out to support more innovative teachers in post-COVID campus-based institutions, with the goal of helping to mainstream their efforts within their organisation.

A brief summary of relevant literature helps to establish the context and the paper then repeats the same interview approach as last year. The sample is somewhat unusual as the authors are also the interviewees. Although there is no reference to a specific methodology, such as Self-study, the responses to the five questions offer quality and depth of expertise that makes for insightful reading. We found they provide a valuable source of critical self-reflection if you consider your own answers to each question as you read through the article. Importantly, the work is firmly anchored in the area of learning design but from a whole organisation perspective, with strategic decision-making at the heart of the institution.

One of the most timely and valuable contributions is the question of whether we should be focusing on the digitalisation of higher education or rather a ‘Pedagogisation’ of technology use in higher education? While this question could be rephrased in more simple terms, and incorporate an even stronger student perspective, it helps to shift attention to pedagogical innovations and the outcomes we seek through new educational technology. Similarly, the article adds to the weight of evidence rejecting binary conceptions between offline and online forms of teaching and learning.

Gourlay, L, Campbell, K, Clark, L, Crisan, C, Katsapi, E, Riding, K., & Warwick, I. (2021). ‘Engagement’ discourses and the student voice: Connectedness, questioning and inclusion in post-Covid digital practices. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, (1): 15, 1–13.

This final article in our collection begins with a brief summary of the contemporary literature on student engagement, noting this remains a contested phenomenon and complex field of practice. The reality is that ‘student engagement’ can mean different things to different people, as Kahu (2013) observes in her seminal work in this area. The theoretical framing of the present study recognises the risk of related concepts such as active learning leading to various forms of performativity in students and “…an over-emphasis on ‘learning’ over teaching may lead to ‘learnification’, rendering the idea of the figure of the teacher as somewhat redundant” (p. 3). In briefly commenting on a recent Jisc guide on “Active Learning in a Digital World” (Barrett, 2020), the article points out how the more everyday literature often does not fully recognise the complexities of student engagement.

Set against this review of the literature, the next section reports on two projects at University College London which investigated student perspectives on digital engagement during the lockdown. The two studies although separate shared a common commitment to the institutional notion of a ‘connected curriculum’ requiring a strong student-staff partnership. Thus, the two studies are noteworthy for the way they incorporate students in the research design and the article is co-written with students as authors. In discussing the findings, the authors argue that these student accounts of learning during lockdown challenge some of the mainstream assumptions about student ‘inclusivity’, academic ‘community’, and teaching which encourages a rich, deep and meaningful online experience.

They suggest the importance of relationality, belonging and an ethos of care, which needs to be positioned as central to the development of digital education and the practices of student engagement. In concluding, the authors return to how student engagement has been under-theorised, especially in online learning contexts, with an over-emphasis on learning ‘activity’, while giving insufficient attention to students’ “…ability to be ‘active’, their willingness to participate and their sense of belonging, all necessary for engagement to take place” (p. 11). This article should be essential reading for anyone wishing to better understand and promote a holistic and multifaceted conception of student engagement in the context of digital education.

Wrapping Up

The task of selecting this year’s “good reads” has proven once again to be invaluable in helping ourselves to ‘slow’ read and make better sense of the literature. It has demonstrated how the COVID pandemic has helped to advance scholarship and the depth of understanding around implementing new digital models of education. We believe the articles that we have selected this year provide an excellent overview of the COVID experience one year on and together they make a good reader for postgraduate students wishing to pursue research in the area. This year’s exercise has also got us thinking about introducing a monthly online journal club, “Reading at the Edge of Digital Education” (REDE), that is open to all educators interested in participating in rich conversations based around a chosen article. This group might also play a role in selecting our future “good reads” as we collectively share our insights, interpretations and critical reflections. Watch this space for more information.


Barrett, E. 2020. Active learning in the digital world: Inspiring learning. UK: JISC

Butler-Henderson, K., Tan, S., Lalani, K., Sabu, K. M., Kemp, T., Rudolph, J., & Crawford, J. (2020). Update of the COVID-19 Higher Education Literature Database (CHELD v2). Journal of Applied Learning & Teaching, 4(1), 134.137.

Carpenter, J., Trust, T., Kimmons, R., & Krutka, D. (2021). Sharing and self-promoting: An analysis of educator tweeting at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Computers and Education Open, 2, 1-11.

Castaneda, L., & Williamson, B. (2021). Assembling new toolboxes of methods and theories for innovative critical research on educational technology. Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research, 10 (1), 1-14.

Cullinan, J., Flannery, D., Harold, J., Lyons, S., & Palcic, D. (2021). The disconnected: COVID-19 and disparities in access to quality broadband for higher education students. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 18 (26),

Jandrić, P., Hayes, D., Levinson, P., et al. (2021). Teaching in the age of Covid-19—1 year later. Postdigital Science and Education, 3, 1073–1223.

Jandrić, P., Hayes, D., Truelove, I., et al. (2020). Teaching in the age of Covid-19. Postdigital Science and Education 2 (3)1069–1230.

Kahu, E. 2013. Framing student engagement in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 38(5), 758–773.

Reeves, T., & Lin, L. (2020). The research we have is not the research we need. Educational Technology Research and Development, 68, 1991-2001.

Tondeur, J., can Brank, J., & Ertmer, P.A. (2017).  Understanding the relationship between teachers’ pedagogical beliefs and technology use in education: A systematic review of qualitative evidence. Education Technology Research and Development, 65, 555-575.

Good Reads from 2021: Our NIDL Top 10 Journal Articles – Part 3

This is the third and final blog post in the process of introducing our NIDL top 10 “good reads” for 2021. Next week we will be sharing a separate list of “good reads” from last year with a specific COVID-related focus. In our first and second blog posts, we established the background context and explained how we go about selecting our annual list of top 10 “good reads”. 

In this final post, we begin by sharing some of the descriptive features of our 2021 selections and report on how they compare with those chosen over the previous five years. We then share our list of top 10 “good reads” for 2021 along with a brief commentary on each article helping to explain the rationale behind each selection. Finally, we offer five additional highly recommended articles and briefly comment on the gaps in our selections and the importance of continuing to access and keep a watchful eye on literature that can only be found in restricted publications. 

What’s included in this year’s top 10? 

We begin by sharing some interesting observations and providing comparative data on this year’s top 10 articles. Firstly, for the third year running a higher proportion of women authors feature in the list, as illustrated in Table 1. This reverses a trend over the first three years of our selections.

Table 2 shows that the number of multiple authored articles in the top 10 list consists of 50% of the final selection. Only two articles are single authored which is consistent with previous years. 

Notably, one author features in three of this year’s top 10 selections and another in two of them. The former author, Aras Bozkurt, has now featured in eight of the top 10 articles over the past six years. This number is matched by Olaf Zawacki-Richter who also features in this year’s selections and their prominence, along with Melissa Bond (n=4), reflects our bias towards major literature reviews. Another nine authors (Gourley, Kalz, Knox, Lee, Lundin, Sangra, Selwyn, Shea, & Weller) have featured twice in our annual top 10 “good reads” since we began this exercise.

This year’s No 1 article appears in E-Learning and Digital Media which appears for the first time. As shown in Table 3, an article published in the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology took the No 1 spot over the first four years of selections. This year, two articles once again feature from this journal. In total, eight journals feature in this year’s top 10 list, with three appearing for the first time. Another new journal features in our list of five highly recommended articles, with the other four appearing in the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning and the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education.

Table 4 illustrates the distribution of journals included in the top 10 selections over the past six years. While some journals remain a consistent source of “good reads”, it is noteworthy that around 30% of the selected articles come from other types of journals, which we believe reflects our deliberate attempt to source a wide and diverse range of publications. In a similar pattern to 2020, this year half of our top 10 articles feature in such journals. 

We are less successful in selecting journal articles that are evenly spread in terms of geographical distribution. Table 5 reveals the dominance of English language speaking countries, with around 25% of the top 10 articles over the last six years having authors located in North America. While there is a strong trend of collaboration by authors across regions, which helps to increase the actual level of geographical inclusion, Asia, Africa and South America rarely feature in our selections. 

This year, six articles fall under the ‘across region’ category and for only the second time in six years there are no publications from authors exclusively based in North America. Having said that, three of our highly recommended articles have authors from this region, although we are pleased to report one is written by scholars based in South America. The other comes from Australasia. 

What are the top 10 articles for 2021?

The specific rank order of each article remains one of the most contentious aspects of the selection exercise, but to maintain consistency we have retained this practice.

Before listing our top 10 “good reads” in rank order, we would like to congratulate all of the authors who appear in our selections, including those in the highly recommended category.

We hope that you value this recognition of your work as it arises from lots of reading and a systematic review process. Additionally, we also trust that people find our brief notes on each article useful and they do justice to the authors and adequately describe the main focus and major contribution of each selection. The intention is to help explain why the article was selected as a top 10 “good read” and hopefully entice more people to slow read the ideas, thinking and perspectives contained in the writing and analysis of data.

No 1 – Selwyn, N. (2021). Ed-Tech within limits: Anticipating educational technology in times of environmental crisis. E-Learning and Digital Media, 18 (5), 496–510.

This article meets the criteria of challenging conventional thinking and stands out for the way it locates educational technology within wider societal concerns about climate change, ecological instability and environmental issues. While there have been several claims over the years that distance education is environmentally friendly and offers the opportunity to develop a low carbon higher education system, this article goes beyond any ‘feel good’ factor by raising serious questions about the ‘greening’ of schools and university provision through new digital technologies.

As Facer and Selwyn (2021) point out in a related UNESCO background paper, online learning may be an environmental solution to lowering emissions but massively increased global use of digital technologies in education require unsustainable levels of energy and place huge demands on natural resource consumption. They note that this includes the ‘dirty’ aspects of digital hardware production, the vast energy requirements of data-processing centres and the increasing problem of e-waste.

The uncomfortable truth is that these concerns feature rarely in the literature, despite evidence that the COVID reset has been a boon for the EdTech sector and this growth is likely to continue bolstering the uptake of new digital technologies for teaching and learning purposes. While the author acknowledges that technology can also be of the solution during a time of crisis, the sobering point is further planetary degradation may over the next decade put paid to ‘abundant’ and taken-for-granted forms of digital technology use. Therefore, the article calls for a new ‘within limits’ paradigm of educational technology that is both sustainable and more intentionally targeted towards addressing major societal challenges and those facing disadvantaged groups.

There is no question that this paper achieves its stated goal of provoking the field of educational technology to revalue, reconfigure, reprioritise and move beyond a complacency when it comes to the environmental crisis. The urgency and seriousness of this challenge left us with little choice when it came to ranking this year’s No 1 article, and we encourage everyone to ‘slow read’ and critically reflect on the big issues raised by the author as we plan for an unknown future. 

No 2 – Gourlay, L. (2021). There is no ‘virtual learning’: The materiality of digital education. Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research, 10 (1), 57-66.

This article stands out for what is says on the tin—that is, ‘there is no virtual learning’. It offers a deep, thoughtful and convincing argument why the notion of ‘virtual learning’ is a flawed one. The author draws on Sociomaterial and Posthuman theoretical perspectives to challenge the false binary between virtual and face-to-face forms of learning, with a central thesis highly relevant to practitioners, institutional leaders and educational policy-makers.

Even if readers are unfamiliar with some of the theoretical literature, the article illustrates, through several examples, why we need to challenge our traditional conceptions and understandings of space, distance, absence, and presence in digital higher education. It demonstrates the embodied nature of digital technologies and how they are entangled in our day-to-day living and learning. In practical terms, the article makes the case that all learning and digital engagement is ‘in person’ and therefore we need to change our thinking, modify our language and redefine traditional delivery modes to reflect this more complex reality.

More generally, the paper reminds us to be critical of dominant technologically deterministic notions which position ‘the digital’ as a separate or independent driving force from education and society. Further extrapolating the notion of ‘entanglement’ reveals the naivety of the popular tool metaphor for learning technology, which falsely implies a degree of neutrality. It also brings into question efforts to disembody ‘the digital’ from the interwoven nature of pedagogy as educators rally to the appeal of ‘pedagogy-first’. 

No 3 – Gourlay, L., Rodríguez-Illera, J.L. et al. (2021). Networked learning in 2021: A community definition. Postdigital Science and Education 3, 326–369.

This article also focuses on the language we use and the values and thinking this reflects in a highly engaging discussion on networked conceptions of learning. It begins by outlining how instrumentalist understandings and managerialist approaches to digital education have permeated our thinking in the field and traces the emergence of networked learning as a response to the dominant discourses of the day. This discussion returns to the fore the critical and emancipatory agenda underlying the notion of networked learning and those who formed the original academic and research community.

However, the paper acknowledges that a lot has changed since the definition of network learning over two decades ago and therefore it takes up the challenge to reframe the current meaning and understanding for future directions and developments. What makes the article unique is the way it is collectively authored by 40 contributors from six continents working across many fields of education. Moreover, the reviewers are acknowledged as authors as their feedback and viewpoints are incorporated within the paper.

While there was always a risk that contributions from so many different authors under separate headings may have resulted in a disjointed collection of works, this concern is unwarranted as the conversation is seamless and insightful as each section adds a new perspective and often critical twist to the search for a refined and potentially unified definition. What really stands out from the discussion is how difficult it is to define the undefinable and how our search for commons definitions and to pin down our language can inadvertently narrow thinking and foreclose on different perspectives.

As Siân Bayne writes in her contribution to the article, “To define a field is necessarily to put boundaries around it, to determine which writings, conversations, people are ‘inside’ and which are ‘outside’ (Gourlay, L., Rodríguez-Illera, J.L. et al., 2021, p. 333). This point has wider relevance beyond efforts to redefine network learning as there several ongoing definition wars in the wider field of educational technology. In summary, we recommend this article as it helps to stretch the current digital horizon to longer-term societal goals of equity and social justice through a rich variety of perspectives. 

No 4 – Castaneda, L., & Williamson, B. (2021). Assembling new toolboxes of methods and theories for innovative critical research on educational technology. Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research, 10 (1), 1-14.

This article continues the theme of critique and reminds us of the importance of ‘public intellectuals’ in the face of greater interest, reinvigorated attention and competing agenda promoting the potential of educational technology. Importantly, the authors point out that many of the concerns that have played out in the backdrop of the COVID crisis mirror issues already raised in previous research.

They highlight enduring tensions and often politicized debates between techno-utopian enthusiasts, sometimes referred to as ‘Boosters’ or ‘Deschoolers’ (Brown, et al, 2019), who promote the disruptive and transformative benefits of digital technology, and those offering more critical voices. While not singled out in the article it is useful to emphasise that those labelled as ‘critics’ are often confused with a group of techno-dystopian detractors, or ‘Doomsters’ (Brown, et al, 2019), who repeat arguments from previous moral panics or draw on a demon perspective to suggest a technocratic nightmare.

Arguably, true critics adopt a multi-focal lens recognising that educational technology needs to be framed beyond crude binary positions of good or bad. As the authors point out, neither boom or threat positions offer a constructive path forward. More specifically, they go on to share their concerns that current preoccupation with evidence of ‘what works’ in relation to ‘EdTech’ risks deflecting attention away from crucial educational questions that consider more complex and wider societal issues. In this sense, the article helps us to keep the bigger picture in mind alerts us to the danger of getting caught up in the digital forest.

A related concern is the need for critical research and theorising to evolve fast if we are to shape and influence the field, especially given the emergence of “Big EdTech” (Brown, 2021) with powerful new actors attempting to accelerate the pace and scale of change. With the objective of helping to assemble new toolboxes for critical research and innovative approaches, the article identifies several current gaps and under-researched issues. It introduces a valuable collection of papers that offer exemplars and useful guiding beacons for future lines of research and development.

No 5 – Tamim, R. M., Borokhovski, E., Bernard, R. M., Schmid, R. F., Abrami, P. C., & Pickup, D. I. (2021). A study of meta-analyses reporting quality in the large and expanding literature of educational technology. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology37(4), 100–115.

This article makes a valuable contribution by recognising that not all meta-analyses of educational technology are equal. In recent years, rapid reviews, scoping reviews, systematic literature reviews and other variations of meta-analyses have become increasingly common with many featuring in our list of “good reads” partly due to the selection criteria. However, we have become wary of a tendency towards technicist or instrumentalist approaches to these major literature reviews as they often lack a framing theoretical perspective and deeper level of critique.

Indeed, the reader may find it difficult to judge their true value and contribution to the field due to increasing techno-sophistication effects in the way the findings are presented using new data analysis software. In reviewing 52 meta-analyses in the field of educational technology over almost 30 years using the Meta-Analysis Methodological Reporting Quality Guide (MMRQG), the authors confirm our own suspicion that many studies meet only moderate levels of quality. Thus, there is a risk that this type of analysis potentially misleads researchers and practitioners alike. Accordingly, we suggest that anyone embarking on a literature review in the field should familiarise themselves with this article.

We also suggest that many educators and researchers, including current and prospective doctoral candidates, would benefit from delving more deeply into the literature on how to undertake a quality meta-analyses. Three recent publications are worthy of slow reading: i) Systematic reviews in educational research: Methodology, perspectives and application (Zawacki-Richter, et al., 2020); Rapid reviews as an emerging approach to evidence synthesis in education (Wollscheid & Tripney, 2021); and iii) The anatomy of an award-winning meta-analysis: Recommendations for authors, reviewers, and readers of meta-analytic reviews (Steel, Beugelsdijk & Aguinis, 2021).  

No 6 – Jiménez‐Cortés, R., & Aires, L. (2021). Feminist trends in distance and hybrid higher education: a scoping review. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education18:60, 1-20.

This article is the first in a sequence of four major literature reviews exploring different aspects of the field. It appears first in this sequence in light of our previous concerns about the growth of descriptive analyses of the literature lacking a deeper level of critique and theoretical perspective. Few could argue that feminist perspectives have featured prominently in the educational technology literature and there is growing evidence of what is known as the glass escalator in terms of how women are disadvantaged in the field, as Bond et al. (2021) recently illustrate in their survey of U.S. based instructional designers.

Therefore, this article reporting a review of 160 journals and 10 articles that meet the inclusion criteria is a welcome contribution to the field. Notably, the search protocol, methodology and review process over three phases is guided by the PRISMA-SCR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews), which helps to enhance the trustworthiness of data extraction and interpretation. Findings in terms of distance and hybrid models of education are reported based on three feminist approaches: i) feminist-pragmatist, ii) eco-dialogical feminist, and iii) intersectional-technofeminist. Those unfamiliar with feminist theories and pedagogical research will find these three perspectives relatively accessible and a real strength of the article is its description of how feminist digital pedagogy goes beyond critical digital pedagogy.

Importantly, the authors argue that digital enhanced teaching and learning platforms can limit feminist responses and reproduce dominant structures that reinforce existing power relations. While the article serves to highlight networked learning ideologies that from a feminist approach value connections, relationships, and collaborations, it also illustrates contrasting perspectives and their relationship to other theories concerning materiality, embodiment and hierarchies of power. Thus, the article flags an important gap in the literature and helps to border cross with other theoretical developments which have practical implications in terms of creating a more equitable and inclusive digital education ecosystem. 

No 7 – Bozkurt, A., & Zawacki-Richter, O. (2021). Trends and Patterns in Distance Education (2014–2019): A Synthesis of Scholarly Publications and a Visualization of the Intellectual Landscape. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning22(2), 19-45.

This article builds on several previous studies by the same authors exploring trends and patterns in distance education. Accordingly, in reviewing this article we had to ask the question: what makes it different from previous work and how does it contribute to new knowledge? Whether the six journals chosen for this analysis are truly representative of the field is open to conjecture, but two aspects standout in terms of answering this question. Firstly, the authors demonstrate how social network analysis (SNA) can be used to reveal new insights into a field.

More specifically, they model how researchers can deploy powerful data analysis software to undertake t-SNE analysis and content and co-word analysis using text mining techniques to visually identify and illustrate patterns, pivotal contributions and turning points. The underlying assumption that this type of visual analysis of the landscape has potential to better inform future research and development in the field is sound.

The second valuable contribution of this visual analysis is evidence of how since the 2000s, the fields of distance education and educational technology have intersected and triggered innovations in each other. Inclusion of more journals from the wider educational technology literature and mainstream publications would provide a means of further validating this type of cross fertilisation or symbiotic relationship. Also, greater consideration of what is missing from the published literature in terms of the issues raised by Castaneda and Williamson (2021) would further enhance the value of this type of analysis.

Drawing on their findings the authors conclude with recommendations for future research directions. Like several other articles in this year’s selection of “good reads”, they ask what our research agenda will and should be in the changing world. 

No 8 – Liu, C., Zou, D., Chen, X., Xie, H., & Chan, W. H. (2021). A bibliometric review on latent topics and trends of the empirical MOOC literature (2008–2019). Asia Pacific Education Review22 (3), 515-534.

This article ensures that we do not overlook the continuing influence of MOOCs on the education and digital learning landscape. As Bozkurt (2021) suggests in a separate analysis of the literature using data mining and analytic approaches, the MOOC continues to evolve and as new waves emerge their impact on traditional models and methods of education warrant ongoing investigation. We chose this particular bibliometric review of over 1,000 peer-reviewed MOOC studies published between 2008 and 2019 as it helps to bring an Asian perspective to the literature.

Notably, several of the research questions seek to investigate differences and collaborations across countries/regions, which gives further weight to the global perspective we hoped this article might provide. Not surprisingly, the review extracted its data from three reputable and influential publication databases, which unfortunately have a strong English language bias. This is something we have increasingly recognised over the years and places linguistic boundaries around our thinking and opportunities to share and co-construct new knowledge.

Mindful of this limitation and that many of us are unable to read what is published in other languages, the authors report that 11 countries contributed 81% of the total MOOC publications. The US (n=266) was the most prolific, with the UK (n=103), Spain (n=116) and China (n=172) featuring prominently in the literature. In terms of the latter, we know through our NIDL research collaborations with Chinese partners that the MOOC movement has generated an active local research community. To the author’s credit, some of this community and the level of global collaboration is revealed through social network analysis identifying scientific activity across countries/regions. The US collaborated with the most countries, followed by Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, China, Australia, and Germany. Ireland also features in this analysis, which is further illustrated through a visual representation of the most prolific institutions.

The main research topics and trends are also analysed at a country and institutional level helping this study to go beyond previous MOOC literature reviews. Thus, the authors generally meet their claim to have provided a deep and comprehensive understanding of current MOOC research up until 2019, which, in turn, builds on other reviews and supports future research.

No 9 – Tlili, A., Burgos, D., Huang, R., Mishra, S., Sharma, R. C., & Bozkurt, A. (2021). An analysis of peer-reviewed publications on Open Educational Practices (OEP) from 2007 to 2020: A bibliometric mapping analysis. Sustainability, 13, 10798, 1-15.

This article is the fourth major literature review featuring in this year’s selections with a focus on Open Education Practices (OEPs). The study reports a bibliometric mapping analysis of 156 publications listed in the Scopus and Web of Science databases that meet the inclusion criteria for OEPs. Importantly, the authors begin the paper by making a distinction between OEPs and more content-centred Open Educational Resources (OERs). The authors reveal how there has been a steady growth in OEP literature, with a peak in 2020. In light of the above comment about English language bias in research publication databases, perhaps not unexpectedly, 88% of the studies were in English, 6% were in Spanish, with 2% or less in French, Portuguese, Korean, and Russian.

The study identifies the leading journals publishing work in this area, with Distance Education contributing the most articles (n=18), which is ironic since this prestigious journal published by ODLAA is not fully open. Having said that, a special issue on OEPs does help to explain the journal’s position. The UK leads the country ‘league table’ with 38 documents followed by Spain (n=21) and Australia (n=20). The influence of North America on the OEP literature is better reflected when the tally for the US and Canada is combined as together they contribute 30 documents. Ireland is 10th in the list of countries with 4 documents, which is somewhat surprising given the level of interest in this area, although this number may reflect more of a content-centred emphasis on OERs.  

While the study shows on-going international cooperation regarding OEP amongst leading institutions and the contribution of several well-known scholars, the scale of global collaboration is limited. We believe this is an important finding. It would be interesting to compare the level of global collaboration between the OEP and OER communities, although many of the leading scholars work across both communities; and there is a question of where does the “Open Pedagogy” community ‘fit’ or map in terms of this type of relational analysis? We suggest the article needs to be read alongside a recent literature review on Open Pedagogy (Tietjen & Asino, 2021) as this is another branch of the literature.

The article is generally methodologically sound and helps to demonstrate how VOSviewer software can be deployed to undertake this type of bibliometric analysis. However, in light of the above comments, we would have liked a little more from the article. It offers limited analysis and critical insight into the competing drivers and attractors underlying the OEP movement. Given the thorny issue of definitions, different branches of the literature, and the politics of Openness, the question left unanswered is how do different OEP viewpoints, perspectives and understandings influence what is being researched, who is doing the research and what is being publishing in this area. It would also be interesting to analyse how the OER and Open Pedagogy literature is influencing OEP, and back again, based on citations and mapping the publication landscape.

Overall, the findings provide useful suggestions for future research and it is hard to disagree with the call for more inclusive practices that promote efforts to support and accommodate students with disabilities. In a similar vein, the value of focusing on cultural differences in education to internationalise OEPs makes good sense if we are to advance the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that everyone benefits from the openness movement.

No 10 – Lodge, J. M., Corrin, L., Hwang, G.-J., & Thompson, K. (2021). Open science and educational technology research. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology37(4), 1–6.

This final article has a strong focus on the quality of research informing decisions and the direction of new developments in educational technology. Borrowing from other fields the authors describe the ‘replication crisis’ that helps to reveal questionable research practices (QRPs) and the robustness and trustworthiness of quantitative research across many disciplines. They suggest one of the greatest problems is that many published works are low powered—that is, the research fails to establish whether an effect is occurring at greater than chance levels.

Another concern is that of hypothesising after the results are known (HARKing), although this is difficult to identify based on a published article alone. Serving as an editorial, the paper goes on to explore what the replication crisis means for educational technology research with suggestions for future responses by the academic and professional community. While the authors observe that educational technology research does not rely as much on experimental designs, there is often a degree of intervention which then involves the study of effects raising inherent questions of replicability and generalisability. Although not singled out by the authors, the novelty of any intervention, often described as the ‘Hawthorn Effect’, also needs to be taken into account.

Overall, this is a novel and timely critique of the published research where the authors conclude that ‘Low powered studies are common’ (p. 3). Poor statistical practices characterise the field and there is evidence of widespread publication bias. Looking to the future, the article promotes the benefits of greater transparency as part of the ‘Open Science’ movement and renewed emphasis on statistical practices.

While it is hard to disagree with the concluding statement that quality must take precedence over what attracts the most clicks, perhaps future editorials could give more attention to the contestable nature of what counts as quality in educational technology research. After all, the idea of replication has Positivist undertones and can be interpreted from many different research perspectives. 

What else is worthy of reading? 

In this final section we identify five additional articles that are worthy of slow reading if you have not already come across them. In alphabetical order we highly recommended the following articles. 

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Dell, D. (2021). Resonance and current relevance of IRRODL Highly-cited articles: An integrative retrospective. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning22(1), 243-258.

  • This article which notably is written by a current doctoral candidate at Athabasca University provides a useful summary of the top 100 highly cited publications from past issues in this leading open access journal. 

Murphy, M. (2021). Belief without evidence? A policy research note on Universal Design for Learning. Policy Futures in Education, 19 (1), 7–12.

  • This article might not be to everyone’s taste, but it asks some important questions about the quality of evidence supporting the growing adoption of UDL principles in both policy and practice. 

Guzman‑Valenzuela , C., Gomez‑Gonzalez, C., Rojas‑Murphy Tagle, A, & Lorca‑Vyhmeister, A. (2021).  Learning analytics in higher education: a preponderance of analytics but very little learning? International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education18:23, 1-19.

  • This article helps to keep the rapidly evolving area of learning analytics to the fore of thinking and offers a valuable critical perspective through an analysis of 385 papers by showing that much of the focus to date has been more on analytics than on learning.

Moon, J., & Park, Y. (2021). A scoping review on Open Educational Resources to support interactions of learners with disabilities. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning22 (2), 314-341.

  • This paper through a scoping review of the literature responds to the challenge presented in one of our top 10 selections to promote more inclusive practices that support students with disabilities.

Nkomo, L., Daniel, B., & Butson, R. (2021). Synthesis of student engagement with digital technologies: a systematic review of the literature. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education18:34, 1-19.

  • This article adopts a tripartite model to provide a systematic review of the literature on the degree to which social media, video, and collaborative learning technologies have supported student engagement over the past decade. 
Where are the gaps?

We conclude with a brief comment on what’s missing from this year’s list as arguably the gaps are just as important as what we choose to profile. It’s simply not possible to include everything and so we acknowledge there are valuable publications offering a synthesis of the literature on issues of qualitycreativitywellbeingteacher competencemobile learningblockchainimmersive VRvirtual laboratoriesuse of video, the growth of surveillance and online exam proctoring, and the unbundling movement, to name a few.

This last topic also serves to illustrate  that the abundance of open access journals does not diminish the need to monitor the literature that often is only available in restricted publications.

Therefore, we finish by drawing your attention to one such article on this topic that makes good reading if your institution provides access to the journal: 


Bond, J., Dirkin, K., Tyler, A.J., & Lassitter, S. (2021). Ladders and escalators: Examining advancement obstacles for women in instructional design. Journal of Applied Instructional Design,

Bozkurt, A. (2021). Surfing on three waves of MOOCs: An examination and snapshot of research in Massive Open Online Courses. Open Praxis13 (3), 296–311. DOI:

Brown, M. (2021). What are the main trends in online learning? A helicopter view of possible futures. Asian Journal of Distance Education, 16 (2),

Brown, M., Conole, G., & Beblavỳ, M. (2019). Education outcomes enhanced by the use of digital technology: Reimagining the school learning ecology.  EENEE Analytical Report No. 38 Prepared for the European Commission. March.

Facer, K., & Selwyn, N. (2021). Digital technology and the futures of education – towards ‘non-stupid’ optimism.Background paper for the Futures of Education initiative, Paris: UNESCO.

Steel, P., Beugelsdijk, S. & Aguinis, H. (2021). The anatomy of an award-winning meta-analysis: Recommendations for authors, reviewers, and readers of meta-analytic reviews. Journal of International Business Studies 52,23–44.,.1057/s41267-020-00385-z

Tietjen, P., & Asino, T. I. (2021). What is open pedagogy? Identifying commonalities. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning22 (2), 185-204.

Wollscheid, S., & Tripney, J. (2021). Rapid reviews as an emerging approach to evidence synthesis in education. London Review of Education, 19 (1),

Zawacki-Richter, O., Kerres, M., Bedenlier, S., Bond, M., & Buntins, K. (eds.). (2020). Systematic reviews in educational research: Methodology, perspectives and application.Wiesbaden, Germany: Springer VS.