Al S. Byers, Ph.D.

Visiting Scholar for STEM Education

Al S. Byers, Ph.D.


  • Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, Instructional Systems Design, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • M.A.E. in Curriculum and Instruction, Science Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • B.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, Science Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Research interests

STEM education, online and blended teacher professional learning, online communities of practice.

Career highlights

  • Principal Investigator, Army Education Outreach Program Cooperative Agreement, e-Cybermission Competitions and Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science, $4,300,000/yr three-year grant. National Science Teachers Association, 2015-2018. US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM). Army Grant W911SR-15-2-0001.
  • Project Director, ExxonMobil Teacher Professional Learning Academies, three-year funding. $4,000,000/yr award, ExxonMobil Foundation, 2013-2016.
  • Principal Investigator, Igniting Student Interest and Learning in Engineering: Integrating Northrop Grumman R&D with NSTA Professional Learning Solutions for Teachers, $662,000 two-year award. Northrop Grumman. 2015-2017.
  • Principle Investigator, Providing High Quality e-PD Resources on a National Scale, The NSTA Learning Center, $2,000,000 four-year grant. ExxonMobil Foundation. 2009-2013.
  • Project Director, GE Foundation, $3,056,370 three-year grant. The NSTA Learning Center and SciPacks: Building Content Knowledge. 2012-2014.
  • Co-Principal Investigator, NSF $399,564 three-year grant: Use of Web 2.0 Technologies to Build Distributed Communities of Practice among K-12 Science Educators (Solicitation: NSF 11-501: Virtual Organizations). 2011-2013.
  • Principal Investigator, NASA $1,500,000 two-year grant: Integrating NASA Digital Educational Assets (IDEA). NASA Grant NNX07AU68G S09. 2009-2011.
  • Co-Principal Investigator, NSF $857,000 two-year grant: Connecting NSTA K-16 Science Content to the NSDL. 2005-2007. NSF Grant 0506535.
  • Project Director, Hewlett Foundation $800,000 two-year grant: Addressing Open Access through Scalable and Sustainable Electronic Professional Development for Science Educators. 2006-2007. Grant: 2005-662.
  • Principal Investigator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, $8,300,000 two-year grant: NASA Explorer Schools: Maximizing the Impact of NES Professional Development Opportunities. NES1-0000-0039. 2005-2007.
  • Principal Investigator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $463,000 two-year Environmental Literacy grant: Building and Distributing SciGuides and Science Objects web modules for e-learning. NOAA: NA05SEC4691006. 2005-2007.
  • Principal Investigator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration $5,287,200 three-year grant: NASA Explorer Schools: Project Management and Professional Development Expertise. NCC5-742. 2003-2005.

Selected publications/presentations

  • Byers, A. Panel Moderator. Panelist: English, C., Kitten, L., Manglicmot, M., Toma, C., Savage, J. Westlake , G. A Look Across a State STEM Education Ecosystem: Virginia Revealed. Building a STEM Leadership Alliance Summit, Loews Portofino Hotel, Universal Studios, Orlando, FL. July, 2018.
  • Byers, A. Invited speaker. More Powerful Than We Can Imagine: Blended Learning Management Systems, Council of State Science Supervisors Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, March, 2017.
  • Byers, A. Invited speaker. Turning Ideas into Reality: Developing Blended Models for Effective and Sustainable Learning Communities. NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, NASA BEST Engineering Education Summit, Palmdale, CA, February, 2017.
  • Karam, R., Straus, S. G., Byers, A., Kase, C., and Cefalu, M. (Sept 2017). The role of online communities of practice in promoting sociotechnical capital among science teachers. Education Technology Research and Development.
  • Byers, A., & Mendez, F. (2016). Blended professional learning for science educators: The NSTA learning center. In A. Hartley, C. Dede & A. Eisencraft (Eds.), Professional Development and Teacher Learning in the Digital Age: Models related to STEM Education. Boston: Harvard Press.
  • Byers, A. Using the NSTA Learning Center as an Online Textbook for Teaching Science Pre-Service Teachers, Association of Science Teacher Educators Conference. Reno, NV, January 2016.
  • Byers, A., Mendez, F. Developing Large Scale Effective Online Teacher Learning Communities at the National Science Teachers Association. Ninth Annual International Conference on Networked Learning, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Invited "Hot Seat" panelist, March 2014.
  • Byers, A. Blended Professional Learning for Pre-Service and In-Service Science Educators: The NSTA Learning Center. National Science Foundation, Online Teacher Professional Development Summit, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, November 2014.
  • Perez-Lopez, K; Cambridge, D; Byers, A. Simple and Computational Heuristics for Forum Management in the NSTA Learning Center: A Role for Learning Analytics in Online Communities of Practice Supporting Teacher Learning. Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Maui, Hawaii, January, 2012.
  • Sherman, G., & Byers, A. (2010). Electronic portfolios in the professional development of educators. In D'agustino, Steven (Ed.), Adaptation, Resistance, and Access to Instructional Technologies: Assessing Future Trends in Education.
  • Byers, A.; Koba, S.; Sherman, G.; Scheppke, J.; Bolus, R. (2011). Developing a Web-Based Mechanism for Assessing Teacher Science Content Knowledge. Journal of Science Teacher Education.


Dr. Byers is an expert in STEM education driving proven solutions for districts and universities across his 20+ year career. With over 15 years at the National Science Teachers Association, Dr. Byers developed and evaluated large scale sustainable solutions for teacher professional learning across a myriad of STEM content areas and delivery modes including self-directed web modules, webinars, virtual conferences, teacher academies, MOOCS, and micro-credentialing systems in collaboration with government agencies, foundations, and universities. His impact via the NSTA Learning Center is well documented:

Dr. Byers has served in many leadership capacities, serving as Principal Investigator or Project Director on over $40M of competitively awarded grants focused on blended teacher professional learning and student STEM competitions from NASA, NOAA, NSF, the US Department of Education, the US Army, as well as in collaboration with foundations that include ExxonMobil, GE, Shell, DuPont, and the Hewlett Foundation.

Prior to Dr. Byers tenure at NSTA, he was an Aerospace Education Specialist for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and an instructor for Oklahoma State University, where he designed and delivered teacher professional development and student programming to thousands of individuals across the US. He also worked closely with the departments of education as the state systemic liaison to Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, and New Hampshire helping to coordinate NASA’s high impact STEM education opportunities. At the beginning of his career he was an award-winning middle level science educator at Robious Middle School in Chesterfield, Virginia.

He currently serves and has served on advisory boards for the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the National Science Foundation, the American Museum of Natural History, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the US Department of Education, and TERC for an NSF effort focused on teacher leadership and online community networking. Dr. Byers also sits on expert review selection panels that include NSF’s Discovery Research PreK-12, the NSF K12 STEM for All Video Showcase, SIIA’s Best Corporate/Workforce Learning Solution, and Best Learning Capacity-Building Solution, the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Competition, and NSF STEM Ambassadors initiative. He is a guest lecturer in e-learning and online professional learning communities for Harvard University and has been interviewed multiple times by the US Department of Education regarding online learning and professional learning communities. See:

(804) 628-2056