DisruptED: Imagining the Future of Education
This article appears in the Winter 2019 issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine.
By Jeremy Cowdrey & Bryan Sparks, Co-Presidents, Imagine Learning.
“When Emily initially came to school, we didn’t think she would speak…It wasn’t until Imagine Learning came into the building and she had access to the program that she became much more responsive. She interacted with the program…and we could hear her speaking in response to the program. As her confidence grew, she became an active member in the classroom. Today, she actively participates and volunteers during classroom lessons. She is a success story.” Dora Pantelis, Principal of PS 184, New York, NY
This is just one of hundreds of stories we hear regularly at Imagine Learning, reminding us why we do what we do. As an EdTech company, we incorporate the latest technology and the best curriculum into our digital language, literacy, and math programs. We employ incredibly talented designers, software developers, artists, videographers, and educators to make our programs highly engaging and effective for all students. Our company motto states that we “change lives and open doors of opportunity for the children of the world,” and we live that motto every day because of children — just like Emily.
Up and to the Right
Imagine Learning opened its doors in Provo, Utah in 2004 as a small group of educators working to create an educational software program to teach English learners how to read and write in English. Today, we’re a company of over 500 employees with a suite of digital education programs used by over 1.8 million students in 22,000 schools across the US. We’ve grown every year since our inception because our educational software programs make a difference for the students who use them and because the educators we partner with feel our commitment to helping them succeed.
While our programs have spread throughout schools nationwide, the business side of our company has expanded as well. In 2014, Imagine Learning was acquired by Weld North Education (WNE) — a leading digital education technology company. And in 2016, we purchased two digital math companies: Big Brainz (now Imagine Math Facts) and Think Through Math (now Imagine Math).
2018: Cultivating the Madness, Watching the Magic
We’ve experienced so much change and growth in 2018 that at times it’s felt a little chaotic! But in the best ways. In January, Silver Lake — a global leader in technology investing — partnered with WNE, expanding the scope of Imagine Learning’s digital instruction. In July, we had a change in our executive leadership and simultaneously completed the acquisition of Blueprint — a digital math program for pre-K through first grade — completing our comprehensive suite of math solutions. And, of course, we’ve continued to update and expand our programs, conduct research studies, and support meaningful causes through our student-driven Imagine Math charitable donation program. All in all, we’d say 2018 was a year of ongoing evolution and expansion for Imagine Learning — making us excited for what's ahead. Because we believe, as it says in Measure What Matters, when you “cultivate the madness, the magic is just around the corner.”
Full Stack to the Future
As a company that’s focused on educating children, we can’t help but look to the future. We’re constantly incorporating the latest technology into our programs. For example, our innovative assessments are continually adapting, helping teachers personalize instruction for students by meeting each learner where they are.
Technology is changing the way we educate children. At Imagine Learning we know this change is inevitable and we’re not just planning on being a part of this movement — we’re planning on leading it.
Imagine Learning is poised to be the foremost provider of digital education programs. We utilize artificial intelligence and gaming technology, making us a great workplace for developers that want to work for a full-stack company with a high-tech focus. Our engineers get to work with state-of-the-art cloud software as a service (SaaS) and machine learning in the form of proactive intervention for students. We’re basically a Unity-based gaming company that utilizes cutting-edge technology to create engaging educational games — a tech company that’s leading the way in disrupting the old-school methods of K-12 education.
Utah: Finding our Happy Place in Happy Valley
We can’t picture the future of Imagine Learning without picturing Utah. Imagine Learning started in Utah and we’re thrilled to be situated at such an amazing crossroads of educational talent and natural beauty. As an EdTech company, it’s significant that we are located in Utah Valley within minutes of over 75,000 college students. Couple that with our location at the mouth of Provo Canyon and the majestic view of Mount Timpanogos right outside our headquarter windows — well, it just doesn’t get much better than that. Additionally, we’re incredibly proud of the fact that our educational programs serve over 42,000 students in Utah, making a difference for children right here at home.
Disruption that Makes a Difference
As we look to the future, we’re excited.
Excited to continue exploring and implementing the latest in technology to help education evolve. Excited about working together on teams of top-level engineers, developers, educators, designers, and artists. Excited that our employees feel like valued contributors to Imagine Learning’s success and co-creators of a company that has integrity and does the right thing even when it’s the hard thing to do.
As much as we love providing our employees all the tech-company perks — including ping pong and foosball, Pizza Fridays, a fully-stocked kitchen, and our fantastic, open-concept headquarters — what we really love is making a difference for children, just like our own. We know our programs help students across the country learn and reach and become whatever they put their mind to. And when you know that what you do makes a difference in the life of a child — work stops feeling like work and starts to be motivating and meaningful.
So, bring on 2019. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Imagine Learning and for the students and educators we serve.