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23 May 2017

The Typing Coach {Crew Review}

The Typing Coach

Typing skills are an essential tool these days, so I was pleased when we had a chance to review The Typing Coach Online Typing Course. Hero(10) has been showing more interest in learning computer skills, so the timing for us to try The Typing Coach year-long subscription was excellent.

The course is pretty straightforward. It's meant to be a 10 week course, but it's self-paced, so your student can do it as quickly or as slowly as they need to. I had my son take the pretest (he officially had zero skills to start), and we jumped in. The process is simple: there's a recording to listen to, and some typing to do. It starts with doing random letters on the home row, then as you progress through the lessons you add more letters and words. The idea is to help the student (or students: this  can be used by multiple people) learn to type by looking at printed reference material, and not at his hands or the screen.

It's a small gripe, but the process of setting up an account is annoyingly fussy. The requirements for what can be a user name and password are full of stiff security requirements, much more in line with what I would expect for sensitive identity information, rather than just logging into some online lessons. I would have liked to pick a simple password, so that my son can easily log in by himself. I was forced into a password that makes that a huge task for a kid that doesn't type fluently yet, full of numbers and special characters, so I have to come log him in every time. It seems like a small thing to even mention, but he ought to be able to log himself in, and needing to do it for him is an unnecessary hassle. However, once we got going things smoothed out quickly.

When you log in there is a menu that lets the user select the lesson they want. The lessons are progressive: each one builds on the lesson before it. So it's important to do them in order. You just click on the one you need to open it up, read a little, and press play. This is a very user-friendly format.

The lessons start with emphasis on posture and ergonomics, which I really appreciate: nobody wants repetitive motion injury from typing! They teach it early,  then review and remind regularly, both at the beginning of the other lessons, and also frequent quick reminders in middle of the lessons as well. It gets repetitive, but I think that's a good thing in this case.

The lessons are thorough, with plenty of practice in the lesson, and the option for unlimited repetition of the lessons, which is nice. I've let my son make the call as to when he feels he's ready to move to a new lesson, and he's chosen to take things pretty slowly, so he hasn't completed the course yet, though we have been working on it consistently. This is not surprising as he tends to be cautious and a little bit of a perfectionist; not a bad way to approach a typing course, really: taking the time to really master the skill is worth the time. The one issue is that, at 30 minutes, it's a long time for a kid to sit and focus on typing, however it's a simple thing to break it up into two sessions if your child's endurance runs out before the lesson does.

One nice side-effect of doing this program is that my reluctant writer has been doing quite a bit of creative writing during his free time. This means extra practice for typing, but it's also been good for some incidental spelling and usage practice, as well as the more holistic composition work that happens in doing that kind of project. I was really happy to see this happening, as it's very rare for this guy to write without being required to do so. It's not exactly a feature of the program, but it certainly makes me happy to see this kind of thing happening!

The program is largely independent; I log him in and he listens to the recordings and follows the directions. And, although he hasn't finished going through the whole course, he was commenting on how much he'd been able to do on his story project. When asked if he thought that it was helping already, he said, "Yes, definitely."After only three lessons (posture, the home row, and the top row), I could see that he was able to produce more on his story in less time than he had taken earlier. That's a win in my book.

To read more reviews on The Typing Coach, and to see how other families used it in their homeschool, please click the link below:

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