Diana Sharp is a book lover whose interests in reading and education have led her into the complementary careers of research, consulting, and writing. In 2012 she was named a global leader in the field of early-grade literacy and technology by Microsoft’s Global Strategic Education Partnerships division.
Venturing first into academia, Diana received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology in 1989, when the field was first exploring how computers could uncover the mental processes that people use when they read. She next joined the research faculty of Peabody College at Vanderbilt University as the director and co-founder of the Young Children's Literacy Project, at what soon became the world-renowned Learning Technology Center.
Diana spent thirteen years at the Learning Technology Center, leading research efforts that examined the promises and pitfalls of technology for helping young children - particularly those at-risk of school failure - to become skilled, motivated readers. Her work received major grants from the National Science Foundation, the U. S. Department of Education, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Office of Special Education, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation. As part of her research, Diana led the development of the Little Planet Literacy Series, a nationally award-winning multimedia program for pre-K through Grade 3, now published by Sunburst as The Ribbit Collection, The Glowbird Collection, The Dugout Collection, Thinking Out Loud, and Knock Knock. She also wrote over 40 of the books in that series. By 1999, when the series was purchased by Houghton Mifflin, classrooms in over 10,000 schools in the U.S., Canada, and Japan were using the series as part of their early-grade literacy program.
As she became increasingly convinced that literacy habits are as important as literacy skills, Diana began writing tips for parents on how to support their children's literacy. These tips became part of the scripts for the published video series, Take Me To Your Readers.
Diana was also the Principal Investigator of the Take Me To Your Readers project, which was funded as part of the prestigious Interagency Educational Research Initiative, a federal multi-agency effort aimed at scaling up promising interventions. A popular speaker, Diana was invited by the American Psychological Association to present at a 1999 Congressional briefing, and she was one of only thirteen research groups invited to speak at the 2004 International Reading Association's Reading Research Conference.
In 2003, Diana started her own consulting company for educational leaders. She specializes in literacy and technology and enjoys crossing the boundaries between academic research institutions, commercial education companies, and schools. Her work spans from East Coast to West Coast and includes such clients as Wireless Generation (New York), the University of Chicago's Center for Urban School Improvement, the LIFE Center (Learning in Informal and Formal Environments) at the University of Washington, and Microsoft.
In recent years, Diana served as the children’s reading expert on the team that developed ItzaBitza, a breakthrough software game for young readers and winner of numerous industry awards. She also provided conceptual guidance, reading activities, and teacher materials for Burst: Reading, a classroom intervention program for struggling young readers that in 2012 received a $3 million award from the Institute of Education Sciences for large-scale research to validate its efficacy.
On a local level, as the "Tampa Reading Examiner," she writes articles for Examiner.com, searching for ways to help Tampa Bay families read more, laugh more, and live better. At the regional level, she works with RMC Research on the Regional Education Lab – Southeast (REL-SE), a federally-funded project designed to help leaders in the state departments of education in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina use research in their school improvement efforts. On the national level, she consults, writes, and assists with assessment design for the Arts for Learning Literacy Lessons project, a literacy program for grades 3 – 5 currently being implemented across the country and the winner of a five-year federal i3 (Investing in Innovation) grant. And at the global level, she recently led the team sponsored by Microsoft that produced a guide for policy makers in both developed and developing countries about what really matters for early-grade literacy and how technology investments can be more effective.
Diana’s latest mission is to develop a universal decoding dictionary so that more children across the globe can teach themselves to read with digital and print material that interests them. Her iTunes app for beginning and struggling readers, Reading Machine, is the first tool making use of this dictionary. The app has received enthusiastic feedback from schools, from parents of beginning readers, parents of dyslexics, and parents of adults with developmental disabilities, and it is being used in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Europe, India, Japan, and New Zealand.
Diana lived in Nashville, Tennessee for twenty years and still considers the place a second home. In 2006, she and her family left their historic urban neighborhood and moved to a conservation community in Florida with alligators, bobcats, armadillos, herons, egrets, and an ice cream store down the block.