Writer's Universe helps students learn how to write using programmable and customizable education flows. The software tool was one piece of software we helped to write that led to Benchmark winning a multi-million dollar contract with the LA Unified school district and put it in the hands of millions of students in California.
Guiding the Student through Education
This wasn't a simple or long-term project and had to be completed in 2 months or less based on promises the Benchmark's sales team had made with California districts while trying to win a contract. Even though things were rushed, we thoroughly planned with their team and built the application in under the allotted time. First, we started with a technical spec that outlined what would be built in the two months and how it would interact with Benchmark's current infrastructure. After we completed development, students were now guided through each step of the writing process with instructional tools and support. They start by watching a video which leads to a critical writing exercise and then a reading comprehension exercise that you can see to the left. Benchmark used this style of learning and software to close deals with school districts all over the US.
Students working in the app can collaborate with their peers or call upon their teachers for additional help with the click of a button. There is a built-in messaging application that supports real-time communication throughout the entire project so a student never feels left behind. Students can use the chat to share their writing and get immediate feedback.
When students are ready to publish their writing, they now have a digital copy that they can use to print, export and share with their peers and teachers. We built the interfaces for Writers Universe based on Backbone.js for the frontend and PHP (Laravel framework) for the backend to fit into the specs that they engineering team at Benchmark had selected. We used our open source ODM (MongoDB document mapper ORM, that has an MIT License) since the application did not fit well into the relational approach for storing data. We initially designed the application with an additional data mapping layer (and a lot of unit tests) to talk to the rest of your system, since the Benchmark engineering team was developing a replacement for their web services during that time.
Monitor your progress
The best part of the web app is that a student can closely monitor all their progress or a teacher can review all their students work in real time. Both students and teachers have access to tools that will help them to evaluate their writing and improve it over time.