Replacing textbooks with the cloud

A better way for students to search the Internet

Vastly turns the internet into a customized textbook. Students and teachers simply enter their search terms and set their reading level, and Vastly returns results catered just for them. Vastly searches a growing collection of reputable websites to ensure that users only get quality, relevant content.

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Easily monitor reading progress and personal growth over time

The Vastly dashboard tracks searches and reading, allowing students, along with their teachers and parents, to see growth over time, without the need to stop and take standardized tests.

Our Mission

We’re changing education, and we want you to join us.

Vastly gives teachers and students the power to personalize education. We help teachers and students find readings customized by reading level and interest so that learners can read what they want and what they need. Unlike other adaptive learning platforms, Vastly is not a closed system. Vastly is limitless, turning its lens on the Internet, allowing searches and results that are superior to what can be offered in a textbook whether it be paper or electronic.

Vastly was designed for a world of information overload. Any student with an Internet connection can access more information than she could ever hope to process. Vastly believes that students learn best when they and their teachers can actively sort information based on their interest and abilities.

Traditional models of education were designed when information was scarce. To overcome this scarcity, information was bundled into textbooks and taught generically to students. But with access to unlimited content, students no longer need to rely on textbooks to dump information into their heads. Teachers no longer have to wait for the latest editions of textbooks to be released. One size no longer fits all.

Now that students can access any information at any time, they don’t all need to be given the same readings. Nor do we need to design curriculum based on age instead of ability. We’d be better off focusing on students’ levels of expertise so they can engage in learning that meets their needs. By making education adapative and customized, Vastly allows classrooms where students with similar abilities and interests can take charge of their own education.

The world we live in requires customization, innovation, and real-time analytics of progress, which can all be delivered, quickly and easily, through the power of Vastly.

FAQ

Vastly is for teachers, students, school districts, parents, tutors, and other educators who are tired of generic textbooks dictating what they read. Vastly customizes online texts to an individual learner’s needs. Because Vastly lets users search a collection of reputable websites by subject and reading level, students can find material about the topics they want at the skill level they need. Subscribers can also track searches over time to chart the progress of individual learners. Because the Internet currently lacks quality texts at lower reading levels, we recommend Vastly for users aged 10 and above.

Users can do all kinds of exciting things with Vastly:

  • A 5th grade teacher can personalize readings according to each student’s interest. And instead of teaching students grammar with a generic worksheet, teachers can have students apply grammatical concepts to readings targeted at each student’s reading level.
  • 6th-grade students could form in-class groups to research and present information about a topic they find interesting.
  • A child who loves monster trucks, penguins, and beekeeping could read about her favorite topics at her own reading level. If a student is a struggling reader, a teacher, student, or parent can lower the filter to search for less difficult texts. This reading level filter can gradually find more challenging texts over time as the student becomes a stronger reader.
  • An ELL teacher can use the engine to find practice materials based on student interest instead of using the boring, bland texts purchased from textbook companies.
  • A high school teacher with both “gifted” and “at risk” students in the same classroom can use the engine to access readings that meet these students’ diverse needs. All of the students can receive increasingly challenging texts as they learn while the teacher tracks their searches and improvement over time.

Vastly’s capabilities let teachers and students participate in the “adaptive education” revolution that builds learning around individual student needs and performance, something traditional textbooks simply cannot do. The product will appeal to teachers because it is effective, powerful, unique, user friendly, and safe. Students will love breaking free from the restrictive, boring content of generic textbooks, and school districts will save money by purchasing fewer textbooks.

Teachers and students can use Vastly right now to find free, customized readings! Anyone can use Vastly’s search functions to return results based on a student’s interests and reading level. Vastly subscribers can also track search patterns over time, allowing teachers and students to track the progress and learning of individuals and an entire classroom. To find out more about getting a Vastly subscription in your classroom, contact us to the right.

Just start searching! Vastly’s search functions are free to any user who wants to find readings at a specific skill level. Subscribers can also track their searches over time, allowing parents and students to see how their reading skills are developing. To find out more about monthly subscriptions, contact us to the right.

Our team personally reviews each website that Vastly searches to ensure that the site returns only high-quality, credible results. Each website is evaluated our team, led by Dr. Philip Kovacs at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The team began by adding many of the most credible educational sites in the world (National Geographic, Smithsonian, etc). We also sought recommendations from education professionals and scholars to incorporate the most reliable, widely-used, and informative sites about topics that students need and want to study. The result is a robust database of websites that allow users to customize content from the best information on the web.

Plus, we’re adding websites every day, and we want your help! We’re building a community of users that can help develop an even more extensive, powerful collection of educational websites. Want to add a site to Vastly? If you subscribe, you can recommend sites to our team. We will review your recommendation as soon as possible and add approved sites to Vastly’s search database. Additionally, subscribers can flag irrelevant or unhelpful search results with a simple click.

No! Vastly currently searches about 50 of the most credible educational websites. We want to build Vastly’s capabilities with teachers, students, parents, and anyone else interested in mapping the way people find educational materials on the web (what we call the “Internet’s educational genome”). We need your participation in this project and look forward to hearing from you!

Vastly’s complexity ratings roughly correspond to “grade level.” This provides a good starting point for your search, but students’ reading abilities don’t always match their grade in school. Grade level fluctuates according to a number of factors including student interest and student ability. While starting at “grade level” for a topic a student is familiar with is a good idea, increasing the complexity of the text will introduce a student to a wider vocabulary and more in depth concepts. The best way to know if a student is reading at her appropriate level is by asking the student to give a written or oral explanation of what she is reading.

Absolutely. Vastly searches only reputable websites, so the search engine only returns content that is appropriate to a wide audience. Vastly may sometimes return results about subjects some users find controversial (evolution, human and animal reproduction, etc), but it will never return inappropriate or adult content. The reading-level filters also help exclude material that is too sophisticated or mature for younger children.

Once students click on the search results from Vastly, they leave our protected database and enter the unfiltered internet. From here, they might find links that lead to inappropriate material. Internet filters can protect students from inappropriate or harmful material. School computers should already employ these filters. If you’re using Vastly from a home computer, you might consider installing an internet filter to block inappropriate material.

Finally, Vastly collects very little personal data from subscribers, and that data is always secured using SSL.

Formerly named the Complexity Engine, Vastly was featured by Business Alabama after winning a small amount of seed funding from Alabama Launchpad. Other articles can be found at WHNT News and Science Daily.

Philip Kovacs, President and CEO

Philip Kovacs is a former high school English teacher who earned a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies before beginning his career at UAHuntsville, where he is a tenured Associate Professor in the College of Education. His research into motivation and learning led to the creation of Vastly, a tool he believes will replace both textbooks and standardized tests for K-12 students. Philip is also the Vice President of Education at Appleton Learning, Inc., a rapidly growing leader in the field of educational talent management. He has published a number of peer reviewed articles and chapters, publishes regularly on the Huffington Post and speaks before diverse audiences across the country. You may view his TEDx presentation here.


Tripp Roberts, Vice President and Lead Programmer

Tripp Roberts is a computer science undergrad at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His startup endeavors began when his tutoring software company was accepted into DreamIt Ventures's Fall 2012 class. While overseeing all business matters, he also became the sole developer for the company, which generated over $200k in revenue in two years. Beyond his own ventures, he has worked for startups such as CodeGuard and Yext as well as completed contracting work for large corporations such as NCR. At Vastly, he has led all development efforts thus far and plans to continue incorporating his experiences with other successful startups to build a first-class learning platform for students.


Kevin Miller, Senior Programmer

Kevin Miller has been developing web applications since 1998. He was lead developer on the original pets.com up to its acquisition by Amazon and Hummer Winblad Partners. During his time in the e-Learning industry, Kevin designed and developed a rich-media search engine for Cisco Systems unlike anything available at the time. The application leveraged internal Cisco video and audio assets and allowed searching of this content down to the spoken word, with the ability to launch the content at the exact point at which the search result occurred. Ultimately, this search engine formed the basis for a suite of sales force enablement tools used by many large enterprise companies including Applied Materials, BEA Systems, Intel, NetApp, Oracle OpenWorld, SAP AG, Symantec, and more. Kevin has also developed a number of SEO tools aimed at professionals including a sophisticated website architecture analyzer which reveals architectural issues that impact a website’s ability to be indexed by search engines effectively, as well as a robust search engine ranking tracker for monitoring the ongoing progress of SEO and SEM optimization campaigns.


Eric Seanor, Brand Advisor

With 15+ years of experience as a graphic designer, Eric has worked on projects for a spectrum of clients from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and independent businesses. For the last four years, as a Senior Designer at Oracle, Eric has worked on developing large-scale modular branding systems for global conferences like Oracle OpenWorld and JavaOne while also contributing to the ongoing work of maintaining focus, consistency and alignment within Oracle’s large brand ecosystem of new and existing products and services. As a brand advisor for Vastly, Eric develops visual and verbal communications and gives guidance to the team regarding how Vastly positions and expresses itself to the world.

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