1. Background detail about the initiative

  • Title of the initiative described by the case study: Teaching and Learning in Primary Education in International Comparison
  • Contributor of the case study: Sara Pittarello – UNICollaboration
  • Key informant: Günter Renner – University of Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Data sources used for the case study: Website, interview with staff, publications, Virtual Exchange
  • URL of initiative
  • University behind the initiative: University of Erlangen-Nürnberg and partner university, University of Lavtia / Latvia

2. Introduction to the case: brief history and goals of the initiative

This virtual exchange course provides an overview of primary education in an international comparison. In addition to the education systems, students will investigate the basics of teaching and learning as well as assessment at primary schools. The course is offered by the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg to its students and to its partner university students (University of Lavtia), building upon the existing Erasmus+ Agreement.
Focus is placed on online collaboration between students. They tackle tasks together and the country-specific perspective of students is considered during discussions. Students will work on assignments, gaining experiences from working in an international team while reflecting on similarities and differences within the education systems. They have synchronous and asynchronous means of communication available to them.

Target Group

Students in initial primary/elementary teacher education (2nd and 3rd year)

Course Size

About 12 students from Germany, about 12 students from a partner university. Students at each university enroll according to the normal procedures.

It is a class to class VE. My partner is: M. Ed. Anita Auziņa, / Latvia so far. We do have a Erasmus+ Agreement. After the VE-course our students can go for a short term mobility to the International Students’ Research Conference in Riga, which takes place in the following semester. Some of German students also decide to spend a whole semester at Riga on an Erasmus+ Exchange. But they are open for new cooperation.

3. Key aspects

Goals and learning approach

One of the goals is for students to learn about the theoretical aspect of education systems, teaching and learning, and assessment and to be introduced to intercultural topics such as cultural differences, identity and influences on our perception. Another goal is to enable students to gain different experiences by working in an international team. The core underlying principles are: comparative education, learning through comparison and contrast, cooperative learning and online facilitated dialogue.

Through the comparison of different education systems, students get a closer look at different approaches, as well as gain new insights and explore similarities and differences while working with students from other countries.

Structure, content and schedule

The course lasts 10 weeks and is structured around 5 learning modules: after an introductory “Welcome” (weeks 1 & 2), modules focus on“Education Systems” (weeks 3 & 4), “Teaching and Learning” (weeks 5 & 6), “Assessment” (weeks 7 & 8), and to conclude the last two weeks are devoted to a final “Goodbye”.

The video sessions take place every second week at a scheduled time in Microsoft teams. The individual learning modules should be worked through within a week and before the video session. In addition to the introduction and final learning module, the focus in week 3+4, 5+6 and 7+8 is on the collaboration of transnational groups. There are usually 6 students in each group. They work together on one of the topics for two weeks and create a PowerPoint for each topic. During the group work and this time period the course teams are available for questions.


Individual assignments

Individual tasks consist mainly of the learning modules and self-reflection questions. Students can decide when you finish the modules, but it should be within the deadlines.

Group assignments

During this course, students work together with other students in the video sessions and for the assignments. Each student is in one fixed group until the final presentation.

Every two weeks, there will be two moderators for each group. They are responsible for communication such as contacting other group members, reminding the group to meet the deadlines and contacting the online tutors as necessary. However, all group members are responsible for the outcome. The responsible group moderators will change every two weeks and are announced ahead of time. At the end of the course, the two group moderators will present the topic of the weeks when they were moderators.

Video sessions and group activity

During video sessions, topics related to different cultures are discussed and explored in an active and practical way through a wide range of activities. There are group activities which give students the opportunity to work in small groups and exchange thoughts with one another.

Assessment and Accreditation

A final presentation takes place at the end of the course. Students are also asked to evaluate each other’s performance, so they can have some feedback and can practice evaluation through certain criteria. The evaluation sheet is needed for the last two weeks of the course, as, by looking at the evaluation criteria, students can better prepare for their final presentation. On the one hand they are a guideline for the moderators during the preparation and on the other hand they are a guideline for the feedback of the other students on the final presentation. Students get 4 ECTS credits accredited by their home HEI.

4. Lessons Learnt and Transferability Opportunities

All participants benefit from participating in the course. Teachers could follow the learning of students in the transnational collaboration. For example, during the seminars, there were weekly meetings for the projects, during which participants could reflect on previous meetings, update based on ongoing developments and prepare the planning. By doing so, the most relevant results of the EVALUATE project could be experienced by students and staff directly:

  • The VE works as engine for innovation and international learning in the academic educational offer
  • The VE is a complex learning activity, which encourages both the integration in the formal educational context as well as the introduction through teaching staff.
  • The success of the VE depends on personal engagement.

Major outcomes of the VE were:

  • Commitment and great engagement of the teaching tandem before, during, and after the course
  • Commitment and great engagement of students in their transnational groups during the course
  • Flexibility, composure, and humour of the teaching tandem before, during, and after course implementation
  • Flexibility, composure, and humour of students during course implementation.