THE HISTORY OF ECOS
Five years ago, a parent of an exceptional learner created a list of her favorite educational websites. She emailed this list to a few friends and added more resources as she found them. This list soon went viral throughout her school community. Then teachers began asking for it, explaining they were in desperate for new high-quality, up-to-date STEM resources to keep their students engaged while meeting school standards like NGSS and CCSS.
That was the lightbulb moment for our founder, Sri Lekha. As a former Colorado Department of Education officer, she realized that searching for great educational content was a huge problem for teachers, consuming hours each week searching, examining, and aligning resources. And with new resources coming out all the time, it was a constant battle for teachers to get the latest, most cutting-edge content for their classes.
Sri wondered: What if there was one website for teachers to find the best education content available on the web, updated and expanded constantly, with each listed resource pre-aligned to school standards and evaluated for quality and suitability in classrooms?
What if this website also used those evaluations to create an integrated ecosystem of STEM content, showing which resources fit together to make cohesive lesson plans with no gaps?
From this list evolved Ecos, the web’s most comprehensive searchable database of digital middle-school STEM content for classroom instruction — powered by the National Science Foundation.
Ecos is more than a simple web-search for classroom resources. Ecos Evaluated Resources have been standards aligned and quality controlled by our team of expert teachers using a 75-point evaluation created by a national expert in curriculum and alignment.
With Ecos, teachers can quickly discover, compare, and adopt resources knowing exactly what each does and how it fits into school curriculum.
For teachers needing to fill gaps in their lesson plans, Ecos can quickly find individual resources based on a keyword search. For those who need full digital-content programs, we’ve used our evaluations to find which resources fit together to create cohesive units that meet NGSS and CCSS standards.
WHO CAN USE ECOS?
No matter what kind of teacher you are — public, private, charter, blended classroom, flipped classroom, tech-savvy or not — Ecos helps because it’s simple to use and filled with the web’s best resources with all the work done for you. Create lesson plans, modify lesson plans, or find gap fillers without spending hours individually aligning and vetting everything because the resources listed in Ecos are already vetted and aligned.
HOW CAN ECOS BE USED FOR DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION?
Ecos is built with differentiated instruction as a guiding principle. This means that each resource, in addition to being aligned to standards, is also identified for its depth of knowledge and its purpose in lesson planning. Each resource is categorized as Core Curriculum, Supplement, Extension, Intervention or Other (e.g., tools), thereby allowing teachers to quickly identify how to weave each resource into their lesson plans and address diverse student learning needs.
HOW WE DO IT
We find quality content from small and large publishers, and we seek partnerships with credible open-education content providers to examine their content.
Each resource is then sent through our vetting process. A member of our examination team puts each resource through a 75-point check to align it to standards, identify its conformity to classrooms, identify its appropriateness for subject and grade, and check its alignment to standards like CCSS, NGSS & CSTA. It’s checked again by a second evaluator to ensure the first evaluation was correct, and a third person then proofs the entire listing to ensure quality control. Then — and only then — is a resource allowed to be an Ecos Evaluated resource.
This system of checks and balances ensures the information we provide teachers is absolutely accurate and worthy of their trust.
WHO ARE OUR EVALUATORS?
Doing the complex work of aligning resources to classroom standards isn’t something you can teach overnight. It’s a skill that takes years of training and experience. That’s why our team of evaluators is composed only of real teachers and pedagogic professionals, not data-entry people. They’ve been chosen for their knowledge, experience and abilities. We pick only the best and brightest for our team so we know Ecos evaluations meet the highest pedagogic standards.
HOW CAN ECOS BE FREE?
We’re former teachers, current teachers and educational experts. We know how much teachers already spend of their own money on their classrooms. You don’t want to spend more on another classroom tool, and we don’t want to charge you.
Our grant from the National Science Foundation helps ensure that we can make Ecos absolutely free for teachers to use.
Even as teachers need pre-aligned resources, content providers need to know how their products align to classroom standards. We take information we’ve learned in our evaluation process and develop comprehensive fee-based reports for content providers so they can see how their products work in real-world pedagogy from an objective, third-party perspective.
That way content providers can make their products better and in direct response to how teachers need them. It\’s a win-win for everyone; content providers get valuable information about their products, and teachers can save time and money finding great resources with Ecos.