Collaboratively work on one document in real time

Primary Pad ReviewThere are a number of web based applications that allow multiple users to read and modify a document stored on the web. These applications are great for teachers who want to create a collaborative space for a small groups or classes.

The reason there are many applications all with different names, but very similar features, is because Etherpad was acquired by Google in December 2009 and released as open source later that month.

Some of the more popular Etherpad spin offs include:

This review will focus on PrimaryPad as it is specifically designed use in schools.

Primary Pad Layout
Features of Primary pad

  • ŸCreate a new pad with a single click
  • Users do not need to register and can start typing straight away
  • Text within the pad is synchronized whenever anyone types
  • Unlimited Pad creations, each with its own URL
  • Invite others to join by sharing your pads unique URL via email or online
  • Each person typing can have their own colour, which helps keep track of contributors
  • You can copy and paste text in and out of primary pad
  • You can also export the pad as a .pdf, or Word document
  • Additional Chat functionality will working together on a document
  • Time slider feature – allows users to review how their your pad has evolved over time

Paying for a pro account also adds additional features which can be seen below

Primary Pad versions compared


Ease of Use

Primary Pad is very easy to use. There is no need for the users to log in register to start collaborating with one another. Simply click “create new pad” start typing and and share the unique URL with others so they can join in. There are a minimal number of icons, common to most word processing documents (like bold, underline, undo, redo and save) so most users will instinctively know how to use the features.

Value for money

Most users will only require the basic features which are completely free. However if you or your school really likes the application then the pro features can be accessed from 10 pounds per month.

Overall Rating 4 stars

Primary Pad is a useful tool that allows users to collaborate easily on one document. Like most tools Primary Pad is only limited by a teacher’s creativity and the application is definitely worth checking out if you have access to several laptops, an electronic whiteboard and internet access within your classroom. A teacher could lead a discussion on the whiteboard and allow students to contribute ideas from their seats. In fact some students can even join in without being present in the classroom.

Unfortunately teachers cannot moderate comments before they are displayed, which I know is a concern for many schools. But if you can trust your students to work responsibly or when supervised Primary Pad is definitely a powerful collaborative tool.

Teachers may also like to explore:


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  1. Khalifa says:

    I would like to thank you that you have highlighted this topic, I used primary pad for our group discussion and it worked well.

  2. Thanks for this review 🙂