Designing Primer Journals
Our process behind designing Primer Journals, a tool for you to document and share your work ✨
By elizabeth

In the early days of Primer, kids could only share one-off project updates into a feed. One-off updates were great for asking questions and receiving community feedback, but not great for presenting the polished story of a project's journey 🚀

We wanted to create a flexible tool that empowers kids to showcase their projects, but we weren't sure how to motivate kids to share their process in a meaningful way.

To test our ideas, we decided to run a two-week pilot with five Primer kids using a Notion prototype. For each kid, we curated a selection of activities that mapped to their core subjects and interests.

We asked the kids to reflect on each activity they completed using a Notion page. For this portion of the pilot, we purposely left it open-ended to see what kids would do! We also included an optional reflection template with prompts like:

  • For this activity, I did the following...

  • The best part of this activity was...

  • If I did this again, something I would do differently is...

We noticed that younger kids liked the template because it helped them structure their reflection. A blank canvas was too intimidating 😳

Older kids wanted maximum flexibility with their journal entries. They used a blank canvas to write book reports, structure science experiments, and showcase their artistic processes. These entries evolved into presentable pieces they wanted to share with their friends and family.

Based on our findings, we decided to build Primer Journals, an internet-native tool that guides anyone to document and share their work.

Documenting your work from scratch is hard, so we wanted to create a system that helps kids share their learning with the world 🗺

We kicked off with a team brainstorm to figure out the building blocks we wanted to support. For each club, we thought about what an ideal final project might look like:

  • In 🎮 Game-Makers, a final project could include videos that showcase how a game has evolved through playtesting.

  • In 🌱 Naturalists, a final project could include a reproducible experimental procedure for someone else to do.

  • In 🎨 Artists, a final project could be your artwork getting displayed in an AR art gallery.

For the first version of journals, we shipped with a very basic set of building blocks for text, images, videos, and links. We chose this set because they work for any type of project in any club!

Creators can also make their journals their own by customizing their journal backgrounds using CSS. (I'm secretly hoping Primer will be the next Neopets 🐶)

This is just the beginning! Next, we want to experiment with developing more block types that help kids create the best portfolio pieces of their work.

For example, we could create a reflection block that generates prompts for kids to answer or a guest book block that allows viewers to leave a note in a journal.

These blocks will enable us to design templates for any project from crafting a science experiment to writing a collection of poetry. We hope these journals will be a way for any learner to be inspired by another learner's journey ✨