This is a special collection of recent research and proven guidelines for effective learning and instructional design. After a brief overview of present and future educational challenges, and ways to influence the teaching practice at universities, several methods to maximize cognitive performance are described. These methods include the effects of spaced repetition, enactment/gestures, smart sleeping patterns, effective retrieval practice, and testing methods that double as learning activities. Instructional strategies are then discussed that include simple rules for effective online and face-to-face instruction, group work, and experience with online learning. Subsequent articles discuss simulations, games, and examples how mysterious, unusual topics like heavy metal music, or goblins can successfully promote scientific thinking. The final part of the collection informs about educational tools like massive open online courses (MOOCs), a thoroughly designed reading learning game, and audience feedback devices (clickers).