An education in collaboration

On a mission to change classroom technology, ThinkCERCA worked closely with ODC to create a learning experience that is smart, validated and beautiful.

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Advancing Education

ThinkCERCA is a product designed for all stakeholders in a school, from students up to district administrators. Its singular goal is helping students learn to read, and think, critically. But more, it is designed to help educators partner best content with best lesson design to create lessons and use lesson resources, track progress, encourage group activities, increase student engagement, and help teachers collaborate, all within the framework of the Common Core Standards.

“Their collaborative process and mentoring mentality not only created a solid foundation for our product, but also established a high engineering standard that we hold ourselves to.”

Ten Chu ThinkCERCA

Process & Teamwork

A results-driven process.

ThinkCERCA came to One Design with a great idea, proof of concept and funding from the Gates Foundation for their literacy and test prep programs. But they needed an actual app designed, built and tested with a hard deadline of the beginning of the school year.


We worked closely with ThinkCERCA and their education partners to understand the mission of the organization and goals for the project. By the end of this phase we had an agreed upon, and exciting, strategy.

Interviews & Research

Creating true innovation in any space requires an intimate understanding of the challenges to improvement. By following and interviewing students and educators at all levels, we better understood the gaps in current practice.


The fastest way to test assumptions is to try them out. Starting with basic paper prototypes, and eventually interactive versions, we could learn which ideas have merit and which need to be discarded.

User Testing

By observing how actual educators and students use ThinkCERCA in the classroom, we were able to immediately spot unexpected challenges and plot short and long-term strategies for improvement.

Iterative Development

The vision for ThinkCERCA is grand, but the timeline was short. By breaking the big picture into small pieces and clearly prioritizing them, we were able to progress quickly while continuing to make product improvements.

Developer Education

The ThinkCERCA team included developers from all backgrounds, many of whom had little web development experience and weren’t current with best practices. We were able to get everyone up to speed.

Student Experience

Cutting-edge education

At its core, ThinkCERCA is a tool for learning. Students benefit from the best in teaching and technology like scaffolded lesson design, guided and individualized practice, self-paced and autonomous learning as well as opportunities for social and collaborative work. Audio support, in-text vocabulary, insights, data and analytics all help student better understand the material and understand how they learn.

Student Portal

The ThinkCERCA learning experience sets a new standard for online education.

Reading Comprehension

A key component of the CERCA framework is testing a student’s ability to present claims and counter arguments in response to evidence. The ThinkCERCA comprehension check asks questions to evaluate reasoning ability, while the annotation feature asks students to highlight passages from a text that support or refute a claim.

Teacher Experience

The next generation of teaching.

Behind the student learning experience is a one-of-a-kind management area for teachers. Planning and managing classroom content can be overwhelming, but ThinkCERCA combines years of real-world educator experience into an approachable, full-featured tool for every level of educator.

Teacher Portal

An A++ experience for tracking class, student, lesson and grading progress.

Always Up-To-Date

With real-time lesson status, notifications and lessons to grade, teachers always know the up-to-the-minute statuses of their classes, assignments and students. Teachers can focus on teaching knowing they have immediate access to the data, analysis and insights they need to be effective.

Lesson Grading

To better empower teachers, ThinkCERCA’s grading tool is customizable to each assignment. A lesson’s specific focus can be marked for grading, or elements of a given lesson can be weighted more than others. Teachers, in turn, gain ways to track feedback and insights into the impact of their feedback as well as tools for capturing data and strategizing with colleagues.

Team Building

Building a foundation for future success.

Despite years of experience with programming, many team members at ThinkCERCA were new to modern web development technology. To ensure that their developers were equipped to take the reins following the project launch, we engrained ourselves in their team to work seamlessly while providing à la carte training and in-depth instructional documentation for future reference. With One Design’s training process, the team quickly picked up their new technology, backing it with test-driven development to ensure their codebase's maintainability.

From front-end design to back-end development, we helped ThinkCERCA build a team, product, and process laying the foundation for their well-earned success and the success of the students they serve. And, we love knowing we’re helping the next generation of leaders, thinkers, writers, designers and developers acquire the skills, habits and confidence to create beautiful solutions to the world’s problems.

Solid, Secure & Blazing Fast

The best modern web application experience demands a rock-solid backend infrastructure and a real-time, single-page UX experience on the frontend. We paired the robustness of Rails with the flexibility of Backbone for an unmatched experience in any browser.

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