Meet the Finalists for Digital Transformation in Education


For the past twenty-two years, the MassTLC Leadership Awards have celebrated the best and the brightest of the Massachusetts technology ecosystem. The sixteen award categories, including a newly added category for the Massachusetts Growth Company of the Year, highlight the vitality, innovation and importance of the region’s internationally respected technology industry. In addition, for the first time, MassTLC will honor the visionary organizations that are pioneering digital transformations to innovate and re-imagine the future of the Commonwealth’s leading industries in the form of the newly created Digital Transformation awards category. 

The finalists in all sixteen categories were revealed during a reception  at PTC’s Boston headquarters on September 10. 

Winners will be announced at the All Stars of Tech Winners’ Celebration on November 6 at Fenway ParkIn the meantime, let us introduce you to the finalists and the incredible work that they are doing here in Massachusetts – and how they are changing the world. 

In the words of their nominators, meet the 2019 “Digital Transformation in Education” finalists.





Twitter: @careacademyco

Transforming What: CareAcademy offers professional development for caregivers of older adults. The industry of caregivers has had difficulty scaling the workforce as the industry faces increasing pressure to scale.

How Technology is Used: CareAcademy effectively combines a high tech and high touch approach to ensure that caregivers needs are met and they are prepared for the challenges of working with older adults in the home. The technology seamlessly allows for caregivers to access small bite-sized microlearning via the CareAcademy platform that is text messaging enabled. Managers and employers get insights and a portable credential of caregivers skills and experienced ensuring that caregivers get the learning they need to work with older adults with health challenges and who want greater independence. CareAcademy’s support for caregivers meets their needs, is offered on a bilingual basis, and provides for nudges and smart texts for caregivers.

Why it Matters: CareAcademy customers have seen up to a 60% reduction in their time to onboard new caregivers. The first 90 days is when home care agencies are most likely to lose caregivers to other opportunities, and thus, this metric is incredibly important for caregivers to get started on working with clients. CareAcademy sees a 90% completion rate with caregivers, which is high relative to other products, and some agencies have seen a 74% reduction in churn.By next year the US will have 20% of its population and growing who need the services of caregivers, and CareAcademy is on a mission to prepare and support that workforce.





Twitter: @CengageLearning

Transforming What: Cengage is disrupting the publishing industry from the inside. It’s atypical for an incumbent to disrupt its own business model – and a 100-year plus business model at that, but the college textbook industry is ripe for change. For too long, the price of education – including the price of course materials – has been a barrier for students.  

How Technology is Used: Similar to how Netflix revolutionized how we watch movies, and Spotify how we listen to music, Cengage is transforming how students learn.  A Cengage Unlimited subscription gives students access to everything they need to learn – more than 22,000 digital products across 70 subjects and 675 courses. 

Why it Matters: The introduction of Cengage Unlimited has already had an incredible impact since its launch in August, saving students $60 million in the 2018-19 academic year. The service has seen impressive adoption, surpassing one million subscriptions sold in just seven months. Cengage has also secured a number of institutional partnerships, working directly with universities to provide Cengage Unlimited subscriptions to all students, or a specific cohort of students, at a discounted rate as part of their tuition cost.  Cengage Unlimited is breaking down barriers and making a difference in the lives of students. 



Curriculum Associates


Twitter: @CurriculumAssoc

Transforming What: Curriculum Associates designs research-based print and online instructional materials, screens and assessments, and data management tools for students and teachers. Its most popular program, i-Ready, was designed to get students excited about learning, support teachers in their efforts to meet the individual needs of all learners, and make the promise of differentiated instruction a practical reality. With the introduction of a groundbreaking new growth model, i-Ready is now more powerful than ever. With the growth model,  i-Ready gives students a clear path to grade-level proficiency.

How Technology is Used: Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready growth model is based on real student data. The results of i-Ready’s powerful assessments help teachers to understand and meet students’ individual needs to get them to or beyond grade-level proficiency. The new growth model is integrated smoothly into i-Ready‘s program. With i-Ready being used by nearly 15 percent of all K-8 students nationwide, it’s transforming learning for over 6.7 million students.

Why it Matters: i-Ready makes the promise of differentiated instruction a practical reality for teachers and students. Designed to get students excited about learning and support teachers in the challenge of meeting the needs of all learners, its intuitive system was built from the ground up to give teachers the tools they need to take the instructional actions that drive student growth. The engine powering these tools is i-Ready‘s growth model, which has recently been updated based on research into the growth of millions of i-Ready students. 


Empow Studios


Twitter: @empowstudios

Transforming What: After 6 years of working with over 150 MA schools & city departments, Empow Studios has launched Talent Box, a K-12 web application for teaching STEM. Designed for the classroom, Talent Box solves the problem of schools working to bring STEM into their core curriculum offerings, with the added addition of students & teachers learning in a user-friendly and fun interface. Students choose “tracks” that span across 23 STEM subjects including coding, robotics, animation, 3d printing, game design, AR/VR, music production, and more. As students complete projects, they earn achievement badges once they show understanding of learning objectives aligned to Depth of Knowledge framework. Talent Box also serves as a workspace for kids to access and share their projects on any computer, from school or at home. 

How Technology is Used: Empow Studios has migrated all curriculum content and training over to the Talent Box platform. This has allowed for more consistency across all of their programs, which includes 20 summer camp locations, a network of 150 schools, libraries, and city departments, and 2 brick and mortar studios located in Lexington & Newton. Their teaching approach has matured due to the simplicity of the tool, allowing teachers to act more like a “coach,” guiding the student to self-discovery in the fields of digital arts & design, engineering, and computer science. In addition to using Talent Box in it’s own operations, Empow Studios is licensing their platform to partner locations in MA, including a Boston Public School. The platform acts as a content management system for curriculum content, and an LMS platform with Teacher and Student UIs.

Why it Matters: Empow Studios has traditionally been a provider of STEM programming through in-school and out of school time, whether it’s at its own facilities or with a partner – schools, libraries, community education, recreation, community centers, etc. With Talent Box, the company been able to reach out to schools all across MA making travel not a necessity. Empow Studios is  looking at making this business scalable, and Talent Box is the best way to make this happen. So far, the company has been able to expand its high-quality programs from 7 camp locations and 40 partners, to 20 camp locations and 150+ partners. 


Unruly Studios


Twitter: @unruly_studios

Transforming What: Unruly Studios creates experiences to integrate physically active play and coding. Splats are durable, programmable floor buttons that light up, make sounds, and sense stepping. Kids develop code in the custom app to program their Splats and play active games on them like relay races, whack-a-mole, and dance routines. Kids are making connections between games they already know and concepts of coding: they are empowered to change the rules and take the reins. They know what a button should do in a particular game, so they jump into the world of Splats and start programming. Unruly has created an environment or playground where kids are walking, moving, and enjoying face-to-face social interaction while coding. Different types of learners are drawn to it, as noted by educators using the product in over 100 public schools across 42 states.

How Technology is Used: The easy-to-use app is based on a Scratch-inspired block programming interface. Scratch is already well known to millions of young learners for programming interactive stories, games, and animations; Unruly’s engineers use Google Blockly, a JavaScript library for building visual programming editors to create a similar-looking graphic user interface. The Unruly team has taken what Google started with Blockly  and made it more user-friendly with a simpler interface for children and a simplified way to communicate with their hardware product. They even created virtual Splats on the screen that function just like the physical Splats to allow for children to test their code easily. Their firmware and Bluetooth connection are impressive, which is important for a busy teacher leading a class through an activity. The total experience of Unruly Splats comes from the hardware, which encourages physically active play. The Splats are durable and programmable via Android, Chromebook, or iOS, which opens up the coding and creating process for kids. As noted in the company’s marketing literature, “Splats are stompable, super-durable, programmable floor tiles with built-in lights & sounds. Pair your Splats with a tablet and control them with our easy to use block code app.”

Why it Matters: Unruly Studios has a favorite anecdote about the transformation they see amongst their early customers. There is an innovation specialist at the Somerville Public Schools who gets kids and teachers engaged with various STEM activities, using both software and hardware. When he brought Splats into a normally rowdy third grade class, not only was he able to run the whole class period with Splats, but he noticed that they were completely mesmerized. Other teachers also report that the impact of this product can be significant even for kids who aren’t normally engaged in STEM.