such as Dr. Leigh E. Zeitz, PhD., Associate Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Northern Iowa and author of the book “Keyboarding Made Simple: Learn the Best Techniques for Keyboarding like a Pro
.” Zeitz maintains the International Keyboarding Research website at www.keyboardingresearch.org
and numerous blogs on technology and education.
Type to Learn 4’s research-based instructional design builds critical 21st Century skills for all students in grades K-12. The integrated cycle of review, demonstration, practice, and assessment, with constant reinforcement of home row positioning and ergonomic safety, teaches proper fingering for each key with ample opportunity for skills practice. The program emphasizes both accuracy and words per minute speed, and provides each student with individualized remediation and goals for success, based on performance and specific errors. Alison Sherman, Ed.M., Sunburst’s Director of Product Development states, “Type to Learn 4 is the most comprehensive, robust keyboarding program I’ve seen. It goes beyond the standard letter and number keys to teach keyboarding shortcuts and frequently used letter blends and words. The customization and accessibility features, including teacher-added content and support for low-vision and Spanish students, are just unparalleled.”
Sharon Davison, Kindergarten teacher, and Jessica Wilson, Technology Educator have been using Type to Learn 4 at the Allen Brook School in Williston, Vermont. This rural school near Burlington is using the Type to Learn 4 web version with all students in grades K-4. They share that the students are very motivated by the graphics in Type to Learn 4, and request to use the program when they have a choice of what to do in the lab. Students are excited to tell the teacher what level they’ve reached, and say they “can’t wait to do this at home.” Ms. Davison looks forward to using Type to Learn 4 with a Smartboard in the upcoming school year, saying, “I definitely see opportunity for whole-group instruction in addition to individual learning.”
Ms. Davison comments on the easy use of Type to Learn 4 and states that most of her kindergarten students use the program independently. She has noticed progress and improvement in her students’ keyboarding, as well as a positive impact on reading and writing skills. “The children now know the keys for their name and can type it to login. Students are now using both hands and several fingers to type, and thanks to the program they‘re getting the idea of using different hands for different keys on the keyboard.” She has noticed children making a connection between the keys and phonics, saying, “B-buh” as they press the B key. “This is extremely important for young children learning to read. It really gives relevance to what they’re doing.” Ms. Wilson agrees she’s seen student improvement: “One student had been a particularly slow typer and he has really excelled since using the program. I’m a real stickler for technique and the home row, and I‘ve seen good progress in students’ technique.” Ms. Wilson actively uses the Management features in Type to Learn 4 and modifies settings for those students who need differentiated instruction. She explains, “It’s great! The Management area is so easy to use. It’s easy to input the information and easy to manage the students. When I showed teachers how to get scores they all commented how easy it was. The graphs and score comparisons are really nice.”
Type to Learn 4 serves large school districts as well as small. Perhaps the largest is Jefferson County, Kentucky (metro Louisville area) where Type to Learn 4 is installed on over 5,000 computers with approximately 65,000 users in 115 schools, grades K-8. Students here use the web version in computer labs and some are using the program from home. Steve Brown, Technology Specialist, emphasizes, “Without exception the students absolutely love the program. They’re motivated to use it. This surprised me, to hear that so universally.” Teachers like it, too. Mary Holloway, Training Specialist, shares that “teachers appreciate that the program forces students to learn the proper keystrokes and requires that they actually master those keys and skills before they can advance”. This district particularly appreciates how everything the student does is tracked, from day one to the end of school, and that students’ progress is visible in reports. Says SharonShrout, Director of Computer Education Support: “Any time a product is engaging for students and motivates them to learn, and then tracks their progress for teachers, that’s a winner!”
Several new accessibility features were incorporated into Type to Learn 4 to ensure its successful use by students with visual or hearing impairments. Bruce McClanahan at the Washington State School for the Blind, and Sharee Darcé at the Texas School for the Deaf both reviewed Type to Learn 4 and used the program with their students. Mr. McClanahan states, “The accessibility features in Type to Learn 4 make the product very accessible for low vision students. These features enable almost all low vision students to use Type to Learn 4. The program does a great job at supporting this community.” Ms. Darcé shares, “The new Type to Learn 4 is wonderful. Our students say they enjoy the game aspect of it and have even said that the tests are fun. With the addition of captioning, our students have full access to the program. Thanks for making a great program and for making it accessible to hearing-impaired students!” Ms. Davison in Vermont agrees that her two students with hearing impairments are both able to use the program independently. According to Ms. Shrout in Kentucky, “Low-vision and hearing impaired students are absolutely included in our use of the Type to Learn 4 program. We’re very interested in software that supports the principals of a Universal Design for Learning and makes the curriculum available to all students. These accessibility features in Type to Learn 4 are very important to us”.
Type to Learn 4 is successful with special education students as well. A Functional Skills Teacher for mentally retarded high school students in San Marcos, California expresses that his students in grades 9-12 approached the program with great enthusiasm and it maintained their interest for six months. His students feel much more confident at the keyboard and especially enjoy the challenges of the timed games.
Industry reviewers have also embraced Type to Learn 4. The program received a 5-Star Grade A review from Multimedia & Internet@Schools, was selected as a “Teacher’s Pick Best of 2009” and “Must-Have Software” by Scholastic’s Instructor Magazine, and was recommended as featuring “robust formative assessment and teacher management options” by Tech & Learning. DISKoveries, a column on assistive technology and special education software, highlights Type to Learn 4 as “set[ting] the standard for keyboarding and touch-typing curriculum for school aged students.”
In response to the market’s positive reactions to Type to Learn 4, Daniel Figurski, President of Sunburst Technology, states, “We listened to our customers. They wanted a keyboarding program with a home connection, a web version, new lessons and activities, and updated compatibility. Type to Learn 4 was developed to meet those needs. Sales of Type to Learn 4 in the first year since its launch have exceeded Sunburst’s expectations. Especially exciting has been the success of the Type to Learn 4 web version which allows students to use the program from home.”