About Al Byers...
Dr. Byers currently serves as the Assistant Executive Director of Government Partnerships and e-Learning for the National Science Teachers Association. As a senior executive for NSTA, Dr. Byers oversees the management of large-scale professional development and e-learning endeavors with our mission-based government agency partnerships that desire national professional development programs for science educators across the United States.
Since working with NSTA in May of 2000 to direct a 1.3 million dollar NSF grant, Dr. Byers has increased the scope and depth of NSTA's e-PD efforts. He now manages a staff of 15 full time individuals and over 20 million dollars of annual grant-funded and self-sustaining professional development programs, all of which are geared toward significantly increasing the competency and effectiveness of the nation's 3 million teachers of science in the US. Dr. Byers is responsible for the management of the design, development, implementation and evaluation of following programs at the National Science Teachers Association:
- NSTA SciGuides
- NSTA Science Objects
- NSTA SciPacks
- NSTA Symposia
- NSTA Web Seminars
- NSTA Online Short Courses
- NASA Explorer Schools: Project Management and Professional Development Expertise
- The NSTA Learning Center e-PD portal and its related tools
His primary function serves to manage internal and external teams of talented individuals that create blended learning experiences for K-12 science educators across the US through a mix of both online and face-to-face professional development. Merely providing access to high quality resources though is not enough. Districts and educators are looking for tools to create and manage long term professional development plans. In this regard Dr. Byers oversees the e-PD portal that is NSTA's national "home base" for science teachers in search of usable science content specifically tied to their individual professional development needs.
The NSTA Learning Center (NLC) is NSTA's national e-PD portal. At the NLC educators are able to diagnose their needs and gain access to a variety of PD resources and opportunities aligned to standards and grade bands they teach. Personalized tools within the learning center, such as My PD Plan and Portfolio, My Library, My Calendar, and My Transcript, will allow educators to diagnose, track, manage, document, and certify their professional development growth over a period of time. Dr. Byers is charged with the management and design of this portal and all the services that are provided with it.
This NLC system integrates a custom LMS with a third-party LCMS and a robust NSF funded search engine that incorporates IEEE LOM and Dublin Core extended tags to provide a wealth of NSTA resources for the individual learner. A description of the NLC tools , the NLC resources and opportunities, as well as an executive summary of the blended model of delivery is provided herein. Dr. Byers serves as point for the design, implementation and evaluation of The NLC portal and the tools that appear within it, as well as the project team lead for standardizing the meta-tagging schema and the back-end system that synergistically leverages NSTA’s thematic-based and standards-aligned content.
Dr. Byers is the principal investigator for multiple NASA, NOAA, NSF and FDA cooperative agreements and grants and serves as liaison for foundation partnerships that support the production of e-PD services for the NLC, i.e., The GE Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett foundation, and the ExxonMobil Foundation.
Dr. Byers has participated on multiple NSF, NOAA, and NASA grant review panels for curriculum development, professional development and education technology, and served on the young adulthood and science standards review committee that established the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards for science teachers. Finally, Dr. Byers has completed an extensive series of graduate studies, documented by his peer-reviewed publications, in instructional technology and e-learning through Virginia Tech focused on distance-based and e-learning endeavors.
Prior to Dr. Byers graduate studies, he worked on the staff of Oklahoma State University as an instructor and an Aerospace Education Specialist for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He assisted Goddard and the Space Telescope Science Institute in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of NASA professional development experiences for educators. During Dr. Byers'’s tenure at NASA he received a National Group Achievement Award in 1997 from NASA for his contribution on the Space Experiment Module education program and citations of recognition for his work in science education from state departments of education in Maine and Connecticut. This national NASA award was recently awarded a second time for his contribution to the NASA Explorer Schools program in 2010. Dr. Byers began his career as a physical science educator, held teaching certificates in secondary science, physics, mathematics and middle school, taught at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Gifted, and received recognition as one of Chesterfield County, Virginia’s Teachers of the Year for his service at Robious Middle School.
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