Learning to type is one of those things that tends to slip my mind. Of course, I know how to type, but teaching the kids . . . well, that’s something that they have to learn on their own. Thankfully, we received a one-year UltraKey Online Family Subscription from Bytes of Learning. UltraKey Online is a self-paced keyboarding program that allows the kids to learn keyboarding skills at their own pace.
Getting things set up took a bit of time. Once in Family Management, I was able to customize the experience for each child.
As you can see, there are a plethora of customization choices:
- background photo
- keyboard – dark? light? colored? show the letters?
- hands – show hands? should they be transparent? what about skin color?
- should the instructions be spoken?
- should the student follow a certain flow of learning or can they skip around?
- should there be a little practice or a lot?
- would you like your student to able to backspace?
All of the options allow for your student to have a truly customized experience, which you, as the teacher decide upon. I appreciate the ability to lock certain features. This cuts down on the kids just messing around and wasting time instead of doing what they’re on the computer to do.
I initially set up accounts for Max (6), Caroline (5), and myself. Max had zero interest in learning to type right now and I didn’t press the issue. I’ve learned to pick my battles and this wasn’t one of them! Caroline, however, was more than willing to sit down for a few minutes a day and do some typing lessons.
While the recommended use of the program is to be used for about 20-30 minutes, once a day, we adapted that to make it work into our regular routine. 30 minutes is a long time for a 5-year-old to do anything, so we stuck with just 10-15 minutes, a couple times a week. Really, as long as you’re being consistent, you’ll have results.
Below is a screenshot of Caroline working her way through the lessons.
The lessons are pretty straightforward. The new keys are introduced and practiced. After that are some word and sentence practice. I suppose my only complaint about the program is that during the sentence practice, there are names that require capitalization before the shift key is introduced. Nothing major, but it did cause a bit of confusion.
After each of the lesson steps is completed, there are skill checks. You have to complete the skill checks before going to the next lesson. (or at least that’s how I made Caroline’s to be)
Overall, UltraKey is a sound keyboarding program. Learning to type is something that takes a lot of practice. UltraKey incorporates a lot of practice (one of your many choices when setting up student accounts) and is a fairly independent program. This is something the kids will continue to use over the coming months.
Because this is an online program, we were able to use it on our Chromebooks. Sometimes programs require a Mac or PC to run. Thankfully, this was not the case with UltraKey. Currently, UltraKey Online is oriented to the North American keyboard, and North America spelling and content. The UK and Australian/New Zealand orientation will be implemented during 2018.