Professional Biography

Dr. Barbara Kurshan provides executive-level leadership for a series of entrepreneurially-focused programs and efforts, and helps develop new degree and non-degree programs at the Penn Graduate School of Education. She serves as a leader for the annual Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition, bringing over 35 years of experience in education and technology to Penn GSE.

Dr. Kurshan’s career as both an academic and an award-winning entrepreneur is centered on her vision of “what can be,” using technology while supporting the growth of new education companies and developing innovative software products. She began her teaching career at Virginia Tech, where she obtained her doctorate, and was the Director of Academic Computing and Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Hollins College for many years. Dr. Kurshan researched the impact of technology on learning and helped her students explore the applications of technology across the curricula.

As an educational entrepreneur, Dr. Kurshan serves on the boards of several education companies. She developed the first children’s software products for Microsoft, and also created award-winning products for McGraw-Hill, Apple, CCC (Pearson), and others. Previously, she served as President of Educorp Consultants Corporation, providing strategic consulting and seed funding in the areas of education, technology and innovation. While Executive Vice President of WorldSage, a consortium of for-profit higher education institutions in the EU to address education for the 21st century, Dr. Kurshan identified innovative investments in learning institutions. As Executive Director of Curriki, she helped build one of the most innovative and robust global open-source education communities. Additionally, Dr. Kurshan previously served as co-CEO of Core Learning an education investment fund, and as the Chief Academic Officer of bigchalk.

Her recent awards include the prestigious WISE Award for Innovation at the World Innovation Summit for Education in Doha, Qatar, and the 20 to Watch award from NASBE in 2009. In 2008, Dr. Kurshan was named Laureate, Tech Awards from Technology Benefiting Humanity. She was awarded the 2007 UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize. In 2005, Dr. Kurshan received the ISTE Making It Happen award and the Women’s Venture Fund Highest Leaf Award

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Kurshan has also contributed significant research and thought leadership on innovation in education ecosystems. She maintains a regular blog on about educational technologies, the educational technology ecosystem, OER, and investing in education. Dr. Kurshan’s recent publications include Educational Ecosystems: A Trend in Urban Educational Innovation (Perspectives on Urban Education, 2015), Opportunities, Obstacles and Outcomes in Educational Gaming: Teaching to the Common Core, 21st Century Skills and Beyond (Philadelphia Journal of Social Innovation, 2014), and The Easiest Way to Fix Our Education System: Tell Entrepreneurs to Do Their Homework (PolicyMic, 2013). 


Ed.D. (Curriculum and Instruction) Virginia Tech University, 1976

M.S. (Computer Science) Virginia Tech University, 1973 

B.S. (Mathematics) Newcomb College-Tulane University, 1970 

Areas of Expertise


Open Educational Resources (OER)

Innovation ecosystems in education 

Education technology

Selected Publications

Abdul-Jabbar, M., & Kurshan, B. (2015). Educational ecosystems: A trend in urban educational innovation. Perspectives in Urban Education.

McManus, C., Ebby-Rosin, R., & Kurshan, B. (2014). Opportunities, obstacles and outcomes in educational gaming: Teaching to the Common Core, 21st century skills and beyond. Philadelphia Journal of Social Innovation.

Kurshan, B. (2013, May). The easiest way to fix our education system: Tell entrepreneurs to do their homework. PolicyMic.

Kurshan, B., Schreiber, A., & Levy, P. (2010). Open and shared educational resources—a collaborative strategy for advancing e-learning communities: A case exemplified by Curriki. In B. Czerkawski (Ed.), Free and open source software for e-learning: Issues, successes and challenges. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Kurshan, B. (2008). OER models that build a culture of collaboration: A Case exemplified by Curriki. eLearning Papers.