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20 February 2018

UltraKey Online: Typing Instruction {Crew Review}

We had the opportunity to review UltraKey Online Family Subscription, which is published by Bytes of Learning. Using their Family Edition, we can have up to 7 family members to take typing lessons on a single subscription.

Setup of the account was a piece of cake. They sent a link with an activation code, and then you just follow the steps through several screens until you're finished. Once you've registered the main account, then you can set up dependent accounts for each of your students. The process is simple. You can create simple user names and easy passwords that maximize the independence of younger students, which I really appreciate.

The graphics and user interface are really basic, and look somewhat dated, and I was a little skeptical at first, but I was pleased with how much my kids enjoy using the program, regardless. It doesn't seem to bother them in the least. Hero(11) is old enough that I want him to be at least moderately proficient with keyboarding skills, and he's doing very well with it. But Dragon(7) pretty much demanded in on the fun -- and for a kid that hasn't really learned to spell yet, he's really doing quite well! The program is flexible enough to work with both of them successfully.

The lessons introduce things very incrementally. Hero(11) didn't complain, and I think that this was key to Dragon(7)'s success. This screenshot is from a set of lessons where they introduced the upper row of keys one at a time, with a chance to practice each one of them individually. It's not hard to go through the lessons quickly, and provides plenty of practice for younger students or for those who find keyboarding challenging.

Once they've completed a set of lessons, then there is a skills check zone that opens up for that area, and are games that they can play. Hero really enjoyed these, and Dragon was highly motivated to get to the point where he could try them, even though I warned him that they are likely to be tricky because he's only recently started his spelling instruction.

What The Kids Say:

Hero: I think that UltraKey, the way they have it set up, so that you can choose what you want to do, when you want to do it, and I find that really convenient. Because then I can learn in any of the zones and still have fun. It allows me more freedom of movement. I think the teaching is very effective because I'm learning much more about typing than I ever have before.

Dragon: I love UltraKey, enough so that I actually ask Mom, even after school when I don't have to, if she will help me log in. There's a specific part I love about it: it's a section called "Typing Forum". Now, in that section, there's an ability called free type. It's where you take your mind off of how to do this and how to do that, and then you focus on what you want to communicate. It's really much easier to type using it.

An effective typing program that the kids enjoy. What more could you ask for?

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