Thursday, February 22, 2018

UltraKey Online (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I've got to tell you about our current review, UltraKey Online Family Subscription by Bytes of Learning. 

I can’t remember the name of my typing teacher in High School. She was a neat and trim lady of an indeterminable age.  My instrument of choice was a state of the art IBM typewriter. While it had a newfangled correction ribbon, typing errors were the things of death. We weren't allowed to use said correction ribbon. Instead, we had to keep a bottle of whiteout right next to the typewriter. Nothing could earn me a cool, disappointing raise of an eyebrow like a loud “ooopsie!” from my corner of the classroom.

UltraKey Online Family Edition
While typing was an important skill to have way back then, finding one’s way around a keyboard nowadays is even more critical. 

 I received a year’s Family Subscription for UltraKey Online. This online subscription service can be used anywhere you can log onto a computer. It also doesn’t use a plug in…so we didn’t experience any crashes or glitches common with programs that do.

You do need a reliable computer with a keyboard (though UltraKey will happily come up on multiple devices) and a good internet connection. I also recommend some sort of speaker set or earbuds as there are a few videos and/or audio instruction. Currently, the program is set up to use with the North American keyboard and content. However, I believe users in the UK and Australia/New Zealand can expect their own versions in 2018.

The program is intended for use with ages 8 and up, though I believe you can adapt it for kiddos a bit younger.

One of the great benefits for Homeschooling families who use UltraKey is that everybody can have his or her own separate account. As the parent, I am the administrator (aka Queen of my Castle) and I have oversight of all the other accounts. I can adjust and customize goals and experiences.

Set up was very easy and required very little effort on my part. In fact, my job is to add “UltraKey” to Josiah’s daily assignment sheet and check his progress.

It is important for students to set a goal initially. There are a few ways to do this. You can set a goal for your student as the administrator or your student can set his or her own goal. Because Josiah has had typing, I chose to take a timed typing assessment so that UltraKey could place him where he needed to be.

He had forgotten that a typing program generally doesn’t let the user “use” the delete or backspace button. What you type is what you type! I know when I was fiddling around with the program I found out how much I rely on that backspace button!

After Josiah’s goal was set he got to move on to finger position and proper posture. This was more than necessary for Josiah! He had gotten into some bad “one finger” typing habits.

The lessons are short and contain only a few letters to master at a time. Along with each lesson is a skill check that measures for accuracy and, of course, speed. The student doesn’t get to move on until they met their goal.

UltraKey is an extremely flexible program that can fit into any homeschooling schedule. Josiah has been practicing typing every day. I have been pushing the idea of “slow and steady wins the race.” I like the mastery aspect of UltraKey.

There is a fun game section for extra practice, but frankly, Josiah hasn’t used that section much. He is much more task oriented that he was when he was younger and just likes to be able to complete his lessons.

One of my favorite parts of UltraKey are the reports I can bring up. Not only does it measure accuracy, but it provides a great little screen shot of what each finished skill check looks like. I can see what kind of issues Josiah is having and what kind of progress he is making. As an extra incentive there are fun diplomas and certificates the student can earn.

I expect Josiah to finish the program soon, but UltraKey is something I can continue to have him use from time to time to keep his typing skills fresh and unfettered by the “one finger” typing phenomenon.

Being as this is a typing program for the whole family, I can use UltraKey is spiff up my own skills. And trust me…they need all the “spiffing” they can get.

Before I leave you to check out UltraKey on your own, I need to tell you that I don’t think I have ever come across a typing program that is this flexible and user friendly. I also like to be able to find all the information I need in one place and I love the handy user manual in PDF form.

UltraKey is a winner!

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UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}
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1 comment:

  1. This is Art Willer, President of Bytes of Learning. Clearly you are impressed with UltraKey, which is very rewarding to our team at Bytes of Learning.

    Even more important is the wonderfully clear way you write about the software. For parents and families who appreciate the need for typing skill, like you do -- and for parents who appreciate how typing skill is really learned -- you have done your readers a very big favor!

    Thanks so much for your contribution.


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