Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bytes of Learning (Review)

My children have recently been improving their typing skills with the Ultrakey Online Family Subscription by Bytes of Learning. I am so grateful for this program because it is exactly what I have needed to press and push my children towards typing correctly.

UltraKey Online Family Edition

One of my biggest pet peeves is when my children type with just one finger. This is not the most efficient method. I have been wanting them to learn how to type correctly for several years now. I have had them try different online typing programs before, all of which were game based. I thought to myself, "this will be perfect for them! They will learn how to type and not complain about it." Well, that was never the case. Though they would enjoy the games, they were never consistent with placing their fingers over home row and striking the keys with the correct fingers. 

What this program does, is it works on form. And perfection. And perfection of form. It reminds me of the typing class that I took in high school. Though I dreaded walking into that classroom and typing the same couple of letters over and over and over again, it helped me become the effective typer that I am today. The teacher made us work on posture, and keeping our fingers over home row, and working hard until our errors were few. Looking back, I am grateful that I took that class as an elective. The Internet had only just recently become a thing and typewriters being replaced by a thing called "computer labs." We were constantly told that keyboarding would be an important skill of the future, and they were right. 

At first I debated whether or not keyboarding was still relevant for the upcoming generation though because technology is constantly changing. Now kids are using tablets and phones where physical keyboards are not even an option. But, if you use this program, you can even use it on a tablet and type on the on-screen keyboard, which too is an important skill to have. 

One of my children uses the computer more than others to sell items on eBay or to write school reports, he's my middle schooler. I was planning on only having him use this program since I knew that he could use these skills immediately, but once my younger two elementary aged students heard about it, they wanted in. 

It was easy setting up their accounts. I set up accounts for my three older children and scheduled it into their homeschool day to work about twenty minutes a day.

The interface is simple and to the point. The program made it clear which lesson they were working on and where to go next. If the computer shut of mid-lesson, or they didn't complete a lesson in the twenty minutes they allotted for a certain day, it would save their place. 

One of the most common reasons clients visit the chiropractor is due to neck problems caused by poor posture when typing on a computer. This program addresses that issue by including stretches in the lessons. They provide several options via video that can be used during a stretch break. 

Another feature I like is the game zone. In the past, I have not had success with typing games for my kids but this program is different because it is not strictly game based. Instead, it works on method first that can be honed in on in the game zone. 

The method of teaching that this program uses is effective. I love watching my kids work hard on their typing lessons. It brings a smile to my face to see them placing their hand  working hard to type the correct keys with the correct fingers. I know this skill is important to have so finally seeing them working fervently with a program that requires it is exciting.

First, the student works on using the correct fingers for the correct letters. Once they have the letters down, they work on words, then sentences and finally paragraphs.

Let me share with you each child's experience with the program.

My Middle Schooler:
He is the one that needs this program the most, and even though he did work through the lessons, he was not a fan of the repetitive nature of the program.

My Fourth Grader: 
He always got through the lessons even if it took him longer than the others. He was patient and worked hard at it. The only times I would receive any sort of resistance from him was when the program would start to freeze up and stop working. This only happened a few times and when it did I let him be done with his lesson for the day since I knew he was putting forth his best effort. 

My Second Grader:
She sometimes asks me to do her typing without me prodding her. She enjoys the program. She too works a bit slow since this is extremely new to her but I am seeing her gain some skills slowly. 

UltraKey Bytes of Learning
Overall I would say that this is a great fit for our family. I plan to continue to use it throughout the year and look forward to seeing how my kids progress. I also need to mention that their customer support team is wonderful. I had a difficult time logging in but the support team was quick to respond to my email and helped me get into my account right away! 

UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}
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