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Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013

PrimaryWall

Share brief ideas in real-time; learning not built in, so add your own

Common Sense says
Teachers say (1 Review)
$avg_user_learning_rating
Grades
3-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Simple to use with basic features; easy way to document and share ideas.

Cons: Sticky notes allow only short thoughts; most discussions are likely to be superficial.

Bottom Line: Simple site that's only as good as what users contribute to it.

The most interesting way to use PrimaryWall is to collaborate with other classrooms. You can connect with anyone, from other classes in your district to those in faraway places. Teachers covering similar units can connect students for collaborative discussion forums. Kids could take turns composing a story or poem together. They could post and answer discussion questions about a book. Everyone doing the same science experiment can collaborate. Teachers could ask kids to brainstorm lists, such as parts of the human body, multiples of four, or parts of speech, and the results would be easy to organize and share. Alternately, students could contribute in small groups and later discuss their submissions as a class.

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Editor's Note: PrimaryWall has closed and is no longer available.

PrimaryWall is an open source tool that allows users to communicate in real-time. Teachers and students can create “walls” where they post notes. Notes then appear on the screens of others who are linked to that wall. Anyone on the wall can edit, sort, or search existing notes, plus they can add their own. The free version includes community support and an unlimited number of walls that can be saved for 30 days. In the premium version, walls can be saved longer and be password-protected, photos and clickable links can be added, profanity can be filtered out, and wall designs can be personalized.

Strong points are PrimaryWall's ease of use when designing and sharing, and when operating the security features. Changing the wall background can be fun, and while some choices are interesting, others seem odd and irrelevant. Share your wall by sending out the provided link. In the premium version, walls can be shared with everyone or be password-protected.

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PrimaryWall is so simple (write short notes, share them, you're done) that its learning potential depends a lot on what users contribute and whether they take advantage of the site’s capabilities. Unfortunately, beyond giving a short list of suggestions for classroom use, the site itself is of little help. There's no mention of why sticky notes on a computer are better than an old-fashioned class discussion.

The most promising application for PrimaryWall would perhaps be an exchange among classrooms from different parts of the country, or even the world. Interacting in a real-time forum with kids from different classrooms and different backgrounds can be very beneficial. Ideas here are bound to be relatively superficial, though, as sticky notes require short thoughts.

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Overall Rating
2

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
2

Using a shared digital blackboard to write quick notes to peers and teachers can be fun –- but probably only for a limited time, and only as long as the discussion topic is interesting. Site design is simple and easy to use.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Learning is dependent on user-generated discussion and interactions rather than on the site itself. Kids from around the country, and even the world, can share ideas and feel empowered by taking an active role in online social interactions.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

A how-to video shows how the site works but misses an opportunity for suggested uses. The Support page has lots of info, but it's geared more toward adults. In the premium version, kids can save notes and modify how they look.


Teacher Reviews

3
(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews)
Featured review by
Stacie T. , Other
Other
Hanover County Public Schools
Ashland, VA
3
Easy Collaboration and Sharing

This tool is very similar to Padlet, which is one of my favorite tools to use with students. I would use Primary Wall with elementary students, especially K-2. Some pros to Primary Wall include the ability to password protect your walls, changing security settings to read only, changing the backgrounds and fonts, and the ability for anyone to move the notes. There is also profanity detection. Some cons to Primary Wall include not being able to add pictures and anyone can delete a note. I would also like to see the option to turn off moving notes. I like that they can, but sometimes I don't want that to happen. Regardless, this application definitely has a use in the classroom and is something I will recommend to teachers.

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