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Bytes of Learning teaches typing through an online subscription service. There are no discs to keep track of or downloads to install. This is my preferred format for educational programs because we can access the program anywhere as long as we have internet service – home, co-op, or the library. I bookmarked our custom family log in page so we could always quickly find the program.
How to set up UltraKey
When you sign up for an UltraKey Online Family Subscription you automatically become the manager of your family’s account. The welcome email contains a link to a private domain. No one else has access to this page, so you can feel comfortable using real names. The family subscription allows for 8 users, each with their own log in. I set up one account for Ben and another for Hannah.
As the account administrator, I have access to more features than my children. I can customize their settings to tailor the instruction to their experience. When I log in as the parent I see four administrator folders:
- My Dashboard – This is where I select account settings, access student reports, and print certificates.
- My Features – This is where I can receive my own typing instruction.
- My Account – This is where I can reset my password.
- My subscription – This area lets me see how many ‘seats’ are still available and when my subscription will expire. I can also extend my membership through this folder.
I found it very easy to set up UltraKey. It only took a few minutes to enroll both children and set their passwords.
How to use UltraKey
UltraKey was very easy to use. Once I had the accounts set up I just reminded the kids to practice and checked their progress reports once a week or so. The program took care of the rest.
The very first step for students is to set a goal. Account administrators, aka parents, can set goals for their children, but I let my children set their own goals. My kids each took a timed typing assessment. Then UltraKey suggested a goal that was just slightly above their current words per minute typing speed. For example, Hannah’s assessment showed a net speed of 5 words per minute, so her suggested goal was 6 words per minute.
Once a goal is set, the children learn the fundamentals of typing such as typing and finger position. Videos walk the students through getting into the proper posture and hand position and then the students review with a puzzle.
Now the students are ready to move on to the lessons. Each lesson contains only a few letters to master. Once a student completes a lesson, the program will prompt them to complete a skill check. Skill check is basically a little quiz to measure their speed and accuracy. If they meet their speed and accuracy goals, then they move on to the next lesson. If the goals are not met, they just keep practicing those skills until they pass.
Hannah and Ben each practiced their typing with UltraKey 3 times per week, with each lesson lasting about 20 minutes. My daughter is definitely a perfectionist so sometimes she would take stretch breaks or stop a lesson and come back to it if she was getting frustrated. It is totally okay to work slowly if it increases accuracy. With consistent practice the speed will come. Going slowly and taking our time working through the program prevents bad typing habits from forming due to frustrated rushing.
Ben loves the games section of the UltraKey program. He can navigate the program independently, but I do need to peek in every few minutes or he wanders over to the games section. It is a good thing the games section is educational!
Once Hannah and Ben complete the program I will have them go through it again. Each time through should get easier and their speed and accuracy will improve. There is no limit to the number of times you can go through the program.
Save the welcome email so you can always access your unique domain log in page.
Spend a little time exploring the site before your children start taking lessons. This familiarity will help you customize the program to be most beneficial for your family.
Allow your children time to explore the site too. Ben thought the game section was fantastic.
Remind kids to practice their new skills every time they use a computer. Posture is the one my kids always try to slack on.
Headphones are helpful to avoid distracting other kids while the program narrates the instructions. I keep a pair of earbuds in my bag at all times so Ben can practice typing while waiting for Hannah to finish up a co-op class.
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