Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bytes of Learning (A Homeschool Crew Review)

For the last few weeks, Ashleigh has been working on typing lessons from Bytes of Learning.  These
lessons are included in the one year UltraKey Online Family Subscription which allows for all members of your family to learn proper learning techniques for one low price.

UltraKey Online is completely browser-based, requiring no downloads to your own computer system. However, because it is a typing program, requiring the student to place their fingers properly on a keyboard, it is recommended that this program is not used with a phone or a tablet but instead with a computer with a full-size keyboard.

Starting with learning the Home Row keys and ending with the number keys, UltraKey Online will help take students from a complete beginner to an efficient typist in twelve lessons.  Lessons combine audio and visual instructions together, take roughly 20 minutes each to complete and are designed for older elementary students through adults - although younger elementary students could easily work through the course with the help of an adult.

How We Used It

Last year, Garrett had the opportunity to learn to type while Ashleigh worked on another skill, so this time around, I wanted Ashleigh to have the chance to learn.  For this review, Ashleigh used the program exclusively.  However, since it is a family subscription, I also set up an account for Garrett, which he will be able to use to improve his typing skills.  Ashleigh has had no previous typing instruction and has only recently started using the computer for things outside of educational programs.

Because UltraKey is an online website, it was very easy for me to simply bookmark the login website at the top of my browser so that Ashleigh was able to log.

Before students learn to type, UltraKey begins with teaching proper posture, which is something more people probably don't think about when they begin to type.

Because of this, we opted to do lessons on the desk computer so that Ash could sit in a chair with the keyboard in the proper position for typing rather than having a laptop sitting on her lap on the couch.

Following learning proper posture and hand placement, Ash was ready to begin the actual typing instruction, starting with learning the home row letters.

.The lessons also include typing practice where the student is graded using a Star System.  They are given a string of letters to type (in the case of the picture below, letters from the Home Row lesson) and are awarded between 1 to 4 Stars on how accurately they typed the string.  This proved a bit difficult for Ashleigh to complete, which meant it took her a few weeks to actually complete the lesson in regards to the Home Row Keys.  This wasn't a fault of the program, and actually, is a major plus to the program - students cannot advance to the next lesson until the material covered is learned.  In Ashleigh's case, she had to repeat this particular lesson a few times before she was able to type the strings correctly (and ultimately pass the skills check for the lesson) and move to the next lesson.   I also noticed that while she did struggle with the Home Row lesson, once she finally did pass the lesson, she did very well on the next lesson.  As students have a full year to learn the material, I was comfortable in allowing her to take the time needed to master the lesson knowing she has plenty of time to complete the other lessons.

After students complete the lesson and skills check, UltraKey Online provides a Progress Report that allows parents to track their progress.  It does not appear that this progress report shows failed attempts at the skills check as Ashleigh didn't do so well on her first few tries for lesson 1. But it does show me her Accuracy in the lessons as well as her Gross Speed of Words per Minute.   Also, there are certificates available to be printed when the student completes the course.  Since we are not at that point yet, we haven't printed one out, but they are available when she gets to that point and I know that as Ashleigh is a reward drive kid, she'll really enjoy recieving it.

Ashleigh has enjoyed using the program, although Lesson 1 did cause a bit of frustration (because she wanted to rush through things).. I am glad that the program does force students to slow down and get it right as opposed to allowing them to skip to the next lesson.  I have no doubt that when she does complete the lessons, she will have the typing skills necessary to take her to the next generation of computer skills.

UltraKey Online Family Subscription is available in three subscription prices, depending on the size of your family, starting at $29.95 for a  3 User Family, $39.95 for a 5 User Family, and $49.95 for an 8 User Family.  Parent accounts are free with subscriptions.

#hsreviews  #typing #keyboarding #onlinelearning

Find more information about Bytes of Learning and the UltraKey Online Family Subscription on their website . You can also find Bytes of Learning on Facebook.

UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}

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