Mary Burns is an internationally recognized expert in teacher professional development, technology planning, online learning, and instructional design.

During her 30-year career in education, Burns has supported numerous effective, evidence-based school reform efforts in multiple settings around the world, including migrant communities, inner-city schools, ministries of education, and universities in the United States, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. She counts the creation of Indonesia’s first coaching program to help teachers integrate technology in instruction and the design and adoption of Lebanon’s first national educational technology plan among her signature accomplishments.

Burns has coauthored four books and almost 200 articles, book chapters, and monographs on technology-embedded teacher professional development. She is a monthly contributor to the Global Partnership for Education blog.

A former teacher and school-based coach, Burns holds a BA in international relations and romance languages from Boston College, an MS in urban planning, an MA in Latin American studies from the University of Texas in Austin, and an EdM from Harvard University. She speaks French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

“Certainly, it is now more true than ever that the world’s poorest children deserve the world’s best teachers.”

Speaking Highlights

Trends in International Education

Colloquium, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Porto
November 2018

Deep Learning with Simple Technologies

Keynote speaker, Republic of Georgia's National ICT in Education Conference
Tbilisi, Georgia
November 2016

The Teachers We Need and the Professional Development They Deserve

Invited speaker, UNESCO Teachers Task Force Education for All, 8th Policy Dialogue Forum
Mexico City, Mexico

XV Encuentro Internacional Virtual Educación, Organization of American States

Lima, Peru

But Will It Help My Students Learn? Pathway to Technology in the Classroom

Keynote speaker, American University of Beirut Conference on Effective Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

Teacher-Centered Professional Development

Spotlight speaker, World Innovation Summit for Education
Doha, Qatar


Blog Posts

Fixing the Problems of Teaching by Leaving the Teachers Behind
Global Partnership for Education, October 26, 2015

A Tale of Two Teachers
Global Partnership for Education, May 27, 2014

The Myths of Scaling Up
Global Partnership for Education, January 14, 2014

TPD in Crisis Series: How Can We Begin to Move Forward?
Interagency Network for Education in Emergencies, February 3, 2013

Selected Publications

Burns, M., & Lawrie, J. (Eds.) (2015, January). Where it matters most: Quality professional development for all teachers. New York, NY: Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies. 

Burns, M. (2013, December). Staying or leaving? Designing for persistence in an online educator training program in Indonesia. Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, 28(2), 141-152.

Burns, M. (2011). Distance education for teacher training: Modes, models and methods. Washington, DC: Education Development Center, Inc.

Burns, M. (2006, January). Tools for the mind. Educational Leadership, 63(4) 48-53.

Selected Resources


EDC’s Proyecto METAS conducted a survey in three at-risk urban communities in Honduras between March and May 2013.