At our last technology meeting there was a discussion about our students' lack of typing skills. This becomes a serious issue when the reach the high school level, in particular in our system because we have a 1 to 1 initiative there, so students who cannot type are going to have some problems keeping up.
We have Type to Learn 3 installed on our network. It does a sufficient job, but I am not crazy about it. For one, we have one set of Chromebooks and are hoping to get more, so I needed a web application. But also, the software seems a little childish - which middle school students do not respond well to.
I did a lot of searching around and I struggled to find a quality alternative. Eventually I found Typing Club and I have been very pleased with it.
Here are some of the reasons I like it:
- It is currently free (they plan to charge in the future, though their pricing seems like it will be affordable)
- It has a teacher portal - it is very easy to add students. (It took me about 5 minutes to set up classes with our middle schoolers, you just copy and paste from a spreadsheet)
- If you set up a school account, you get a subdomain portal that students use to login. (For example yourschool.typingclub.com)
- It can show them which finger they should use for each keystroke
- It has 100 lessons which go through a typical keyboarding pattern. (Starting with home keys progressing to numbers and symbols)
- You can modify the wpm or accuracy % required to pass a lesson.
- You can add custom lessons
- It is simple, no frills, no games, no distractions - just typing, which I think is good for middle school. (I haven't tried it yet with younger students)
- Surprisingly, one of the best features was the scoreboard, which lets students follow each other's progress. Middle School students (boys in particular) seemed to be obsessed with getting as high as they could on that scoreboard. To the point that several went home and typed on their own with no direction from me, just to try to win. Other comments I heard - "this is addictive" and "can we doing that typing program again today?"