Innovative practice from around the globe, addressing a range of recent educational themes and trends, was published in the FEMS Microbiology Letters virtual Thematic Issue ‘Keeping Education Fresh’ in October 2017. Its thought-provoking content is reviewed here to more directly facilitate reflections and discussions in the professional community. The focus is on best practice approaches when enhancing student engagement, how to adjust those to the diversity of learners, learning situations and infrastructures, and to a broad range of subjects. The need for authentic learning and to move away from didactic teaching is emphasized. The ‘students as researchers’ theme is featured e.g. in context of service learning. Creative approaches are presented such as using performing arts, popular culture and gamification. The development of interdisciplinary and intercultural competences, and the exploration of socioscientific themes and philosophical issues are considered. Revisions of curricula and programmes, reflective of educational advancements and sector drivers, are discussed from undergraduate to postgraduate and professional specialist level also in light of problem-based learning, interactive distance and on-campus learning, and even the legacy of Massive Open Online Courses. Such changes always require resources and skills, and carry risks. Yet, innovation is a risk worth taking to keep education fresh.