Research Consortium

Research Consortium

Together, we want to change the environment of the
professional learning community to improve and
empower educators and advance the pedagogical landscape. 

Harvard University

September 18, 2018

The inaugural meeting of the Learners Edge Research Consortium took place on September 18, 2018 hosted by Amin Marei at Longfellow Hall, Harvard University with Dr. Kenneth Wong of Brown University as moderator. 

The Consortium brought together some of education's greatest minds:

  • Dr. Ben Dyson: Recently of University of North Carolina, Greensboro, native of New Zealand, to share his passion for health and wellness, as well as an emerging interest in social-emotional learning. 
  • Dr. Caroline Wylie: From Educational Testing Services, provided in-depth knowledge of formative assessment and ETS’ work with practitioners to further the work of Teacher Learning Communities including the value of self and peer reflection. 
  • Elizabeth Foster: Learning Forward representative, continued to champion the need for sustained, embedded professional development for educators at all career levels.   
  • Amin Marei, our host, shared his passion for providing high quality, relevant, culturally aligned professional learning for Middle Eastern educators through a fellowship outreach.  
  • Dr. Wong’s emphasis on social sciences and translation of complex information into usable formats to direct change and create clear process and framework was outlined in several initiatives; one key area being school funding reform for the state of Rhode Island. The Harvard focus is on impact and change policy through 21st Century Learnings.  

What's Next?

As the Consortium looks ahead, the focus will be on data collection in key regions of the US and internationally, focusing on areas with high teacher shortage and attrition.  The Consortium members strive to assist Learners Edge by exploring opportunities that allow for accessible, data based professional learning for educators throughout the world, with a strong focus on retention of high quality teachers and leaders.

Members of the Consortium

+Kenneth K. Wong, Ph.D.

Kenneth K. Wong, Ph.D.

Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of Education Policy

Brown University

Professor Wong has conducted extensive research in education policy, innovation, and accountability. The author of over 100 scholarly articles, Professor Wong’s books include The Education Mayor: Improving America’s Schools, Successful Schools and Educational Accountability, and Funding Public Schools: Policy and Politics. He has advised the U.S. Secretaries of Education and Interior, state legislature, governors, mayors, and the leadership of several large urban school systems. Professor Wong serves on several boards and committees in the field of educational practice, leadership, and innovation. At Brown University, Professor Wong is also a professor of Public Policy, Urban Studies, and Political Science. He served as chair of Brown’s Department of Education for 11 years.

+Amin Marei, M.Ed.

Amin Marei, M.Ed.

Associate Director of Professional Education

Harvard University Graduate School of Education

Amin Marei is responsible for managing and developing professional education programs and strategies for K-12 teachers, with a special focus on international audience. Amin’s research focuses on scaling personalized learning, using informal learning to support education in low-income communities, and on teachers’ professional development. Amin has worked with Sesame Workshop’s Executive Board to develop their educational program for Syrian refugees; with Harvard’s Extension School to develop its online learning activities; and with the National Science Foundation to develop the Advanced Placement Teachers Online Learning Community. Amin was awarded grants from MIT’s Legatum Center and MIT’s Public Service Center for his work on children’s media. He is also the recipient of Harvard’s Intellectual Contribution Award, and Harvard’s Public Service Scholarship.

+Elizabeth Foster, M.Ed.

Elizabeth Foster, M.Ed.

Associate Director of Standards, Research, and Strategy

Learning Forward

Elizabeth has more than 25 years of experience in research, education policy, publishing, and nonprofit leadership. She focuses on closing opportunity gaps in K-12 education by addressing chronic challenges faced by public school teachers, leaders, and systems. At Learning Forward, Elizabeth works to promote the adoption and implementation of the Learning Forward standards for professional learning, researches the impact of professional learning strategies, and facilitates the development of a national research agenda to elevate and promote professional learning, and contributes to policy and strategy approaches.

+Cassandra Erkens, M.Ed.

Cassandra Erkens, M.Ed.


Anam Cara Consulting, Inc.

Cassie is a presenter, facilitator, coach, trainer of trainers, keynote speaker, author, and above all, a teacher. She presents nationally and internationally on assessment, instruction, school improvement, and professional learning communities. She has advised school districts and state education departments on school improvement and staff development. She has written and edited dozens of books and anthologies on assessment literacy, collaborate common assessments, and instructional agility.

+Ben Dyson, Ph.D.

Ben Dyson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education

University of Auckland, New Zealand 

Professor Dyson is an internationally recognized researcher in Physical Education in two related areas of scholarship: research on innovative curriculum and pedagogy and Cooperative Learning as a pedagogical practice. His school-based research has contributed to our current understanding of effective pedagogy for children’s health and well-being. He has carried out research and taught at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Memphis. Ben has presented at 90 national and international conferences, including keynote presentations in Korea, Australia, Japan, China, and Israel. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed research articles, book chapters, and books. In August 2018, Ben will begin a new appointment at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

+Caroline Wylie, Ph.D.

Caroline Wylie, Ph.D.

Research Director, Student and Teacher Research Group

Senior Research Scientist

Educational Testing Service (ETS)

Dr. Wylie’s current research centers on issues around balanced assessment systems, with a focus on the use of formative assessment to improve classroom teaching and learning. She has led studies related to the creation of effective, scalable and sustainable teacher professional development, focused on formative assessment, on the formative use of diagnostic questions for classroom-based assessment, assessment literacy and on the role of learning progressions to support formative assessment in mathematics and science. Dr. Wylie has collaborated with a variety of states to support the development of evaluation frameworks and/or systems, including a project examining the validity of an observation protocol for informal science. Currently she is also the research lead for the K-12 Winsight™ Assessment System at ETS.

+Joseph Wise, Ph.D.

Joseph Wise, Ph.D.

Co-Founder and Chairman 

Distinctive Schools

Dr. Wise has a longstanding record of helping school districts, school boards, and school leaders make rapid improvements to support student achievement. Dr. Wise currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI). He is also Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Distinctive Schools, which is responsible for the management of high-performing urban public non-profit charter schools in Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit. He is also Co-founder and Chief Executive of Acceleration Academies, an organization focused on providing teens and young adults who had abandoned education an opportunity to re-engage in academics—and ultimately achieve a diploma from the high school they had abandoned. His passion for all students, particularly those who are underserved and disadvantaged, drives a sense of urgency about the reforms needed to help America regain its competitive edge through the academic preparation of our nation’s children.

+Beth Purvis, Ed.D.

Beth Purvis, Ed.D.

Senior Program Director, Education & Character Program

The Kern Family Foundation

Dr. Purvis leads the Education & Character Program at The Kern Family Foundation, where she works to strengthen and forge relationships with some of the leading educational and character organizations. Purvis brings nearly 30 years of expertise in educating and developing the whole child. Purvis previously served as the Secretary of Education for the State of Illinois. While serving in this capacity, Purvis was chair of several governor-appointed councils focused on advocating for cohesive education opportunities for every child. Purvis earned her bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University, her master’s degree from Columbia University, and her doctorate of education from Vanderbilt University.

+Eric Cohen

Eric Cohen

Chief Executive Officer

Learners Edge

Eric comes to Learners Edge from Birch Lake in Chicago. Eric was a Partner and Managing Director of this organization, which provides consulting and invests in public and private companies experiencing complex business situations. Prior to that, Eric was the Chief Operating Officer at Power Solutions International, Inc. Eric has over 20 years of experience at the CEO and executive level in a wide range of industries, and in small to very large businesses, including General Electric Corporation and Midwest Air Technologies.

Eric holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from Harvard University. 

+Julie Yaeger

Julie Yaeger

Executive Vice President

Learners Edge

Julie holds an elementary teaching degree, a Master’s degree in Leadership and Organization, a K-12 Reading Endorsement, and a K-12 Administrative Specialist degree. She taught in the classroom for 10 years, then worked for the Minnesota Department of Education for two years, spent the next four years as a Professional Development Coordinator training non-tenured teaching staff, and finished her final three years in public education as a Middle School Assistant Principal. Julie has spent the past 10 years Learners Edge, where she oversees content and course development and manages strategic partnerships. 

+Diann Huber, Ed.D.

Diann Huber, Ed.D.

Founder and President


As a leader in the education industry, Huber gained extensive experience in curriculum development and online instruction and expertise in state certification procedures while serving at the University of North Texas. There, Huber served as teaching fellow, lecturer, and Professional Development School Coordinator. In 2003, iteach TEXAS was approved by the Texas State Board for Educator Certification as an alternative route to certification. Huber applied her years of experience in both education and business to the development of a new teacher preparation program that responded to the growing market for technological teaching options. Today, iteach offers educator preparation in Texas, Louisiana, Hawaii, and Nevada. iteach blends highly effective personnel, focused pedagogical curricula, supportive classroom mentoring, and outstanding service to school districts. 

+Guy Harrington

Guy Harrington


Teaching Channel

Guy is a former special education teacher and principal. Guy most recently was the CEO for Hoot Education, which focused on providing technology-enabled professional development and coaching solutions for K-12 school districts and university teacher preparation programs. As an education executive, Guy believes that teachers are the most important national treasure.

Guy has held leadership positions for Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Cambium Learning. He has worked with school districts, state departments of education, and universities across the United States focused on providing products and services that positively impact education across all grade levels. He holds a B.S. in education from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.