For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bytes of Learning - TOS Review

Typing has never been my strong suit. You would think as a blogger I should have that down, but I don't. So, when a curriculum that teaches typing came along for review, I thought this would be something I should probably try.

Bytes of Learning is a company that specializes on developing multimedia software to aid students (as young as 8 years old ), and adults learn better. Members of the crew were given the opportunity to try out their UltraKey Online Family Subscription with access for a full year.

Before having the kids try this software I decided to take the review period to test it on myself. The way this software works is actually pretty straight forward. There is nothing to download, it is all done online. Once you've got your account set up, you are welcome with this screen from where you can access your dashboard.

The dashboard is a very important place in UltraKey because this is where you set up and manage everyone who will be using the program. The family subscription allows you 7 users , each with their own sign in which the main user sets. UltraKey is very adaptable and offers you many options. The student enrollment is the most basic. UltraKey allows you to manage the family as a whole (common features such as access to games and forum), and also to manage each student. When it comes to managing the students, there is an array of setting you can go through:
  • Goal setting, which is very detailed and specific: speed, accuracy, with custom or automated options
  • Setting of the interface itself: background color, sound, practice amount, coaching intensity
  • Goal and progress report
Each section of the program has an introductory video which explains to you what it is about. There is also a thorough PDF guide that details to you every aspect of the program.

I really like this program. What I appreciate most is the fact that it is like having an instructor that guides you step by step. The program is incremental. It starts with the real needed basics such as posture and position of the fingers. Then with each lesson you are introduced to a set of new keys. As you go though the lessons, the practices are pointed enough that it allows you to really internalize what you are learning. Though you can set your own practice amount in the dashboard, you can also do more or less during the lesson itself.  I love the repetition. You can only move forward as you reach the goal for each lesson, usually in both accuracy and speed;  the next level gets unlocked. The program teaches you typing by introducing letter pairs and chains.

The program is so engaging that it is easy to just keep working. I found that what stopped me was tiredness of the fingers or brain starting to go numb. Mentally I found myself wanting to do more, but could not focus anymore. I love the way the assessment details to you what you did wrong and gives you tips on how to improve. I also love the voice over which works well for auditory learners  and visual learners.

On top of the lessons, the student can have extra practice though the forum or in the game section.

The program works on all platforms. The software  is oriented towards the American keyboard and North America spelling and content. A UK and an Australian/New Zealand orientation is coming  in 2018.

I am looking forward to have the boys use this program and I know they will enjoy it and that it would be beneficial.

UltraKeys is an innovative, engaging online keyboarding software which I think would work for many. Check out Bytes of Learning on their Facebook page.

UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}

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