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TypeTastic School Edition
Pros: Helpful keyboard divisions for young students, gradually increasing difficulty.
Cons: Games aren't engaging, there are few teacher options, and the student interface gives little feedback.
Bottom Line: This program provides a complete K-12 typing curriculum for students to learn and practice typing skills, but there are better offerings available.
Teachers of K-12 students should make use of the free trial options for TypeTastic School Edition to see if it fits their needs. The games and exercises aimed at young students are helpful for those with no keyboarding experience, but students who aren't reading fluently may need some extra guidance. Older students are provided with a complete (if bare-bones) typing curriculum, taking them from the home row to typing paragraphs. Each lesson and section indicates its time length, so teachers know exactly how long lessons should take, making it easier to fit keyboarding exercises into longer class periods.
Single sign-on (SSO) is available, and a teacher dashboard is accessible with basic tools, such as the ability to set up class rosters and run reports. Student lists can be imported from CSV files, and data can also be exported to CSV. There's a very short quick-start guide that can orient teachers to the dashboard interface.
TypeTastic School Edition is a complete K-12 keyboarding curriculum. With over 400 activities spread across all grade levels and difficulties, students will discover the keyboard layout, learn proper typing form, and practice their keyboarding skills. Younger students begin by playing games, breaking up the keyboard into sections. Once students get past the very basics, the originally learned keyboard key groups change into a FingerPaths keyboard. This displays the keyboard with color coding that indicates which finger should be typing which letter. Older students dive right into drills with a vaguely gamelike overlay. Typing tests for the most advanced students include typing paragraphs of text on a variety of topics. After each game or test, students receive a score that includes typing speed and accuracy, where applicable.
The offerings are divided into four basic groups: My Keyboard Adventure for K-3; All Fingers Aboard for grades 2-5; and Ready, Set, Type! as well as Master Those Keys for grades 4-12. My Keyboard Adventure includes some interesting games that help the youngest students learn about the keyboard layout, memorize letter groups, and practice finding each key. All Fingers Aboard includes games such as Fruity Keys, which drops pieces of fruit with letters on them, allowing students to practice typing letters with the correct fingers without looking at the keyboard. Ready, Set, Type! gets students typing words and sentences. In Master Those Keys, more advanced students work on increasing their speed and adding in numbers and symbols.
Dividing the keyboard up into sections can be very helpful for younger students. But higher-level lessons divide the keyboard differently -- making the keys pressed with each finger the same color -- rather than grouping the keys into the areas shown in the early lessons. This could cause some confusion if students jump around among lessons. Also, if students stop typing for a while or navigate to another window on their computer, the game pauses after several seconds. When students try to start typing again, the first key pressed unpauses the activity rather than registering as typed input, which can lead to errors.
The gradual ramping up of difficulty is a useful way to learn to type, and being able to skip lessons will help quick learners. Each of the typing games, activities, and tests provides a score at the end, with data such as typing speed and accuracy, and students have access to their historical scores to see how they improve over time. However, during the typing (especially the exercises where students type words, sentences, or paragraphs), there's little feedback. If an incorrect key is pressed, the letter briefly turns red and a star appears on the proper key on the keyboard at the bottom of the screen. There's little other feedback given while students are typing, with no speed or error feedback. Unlike many other keyboarding titles, the keys on the keyboard don't light up as students type.
TypeTastic School Edition covers the basics of a full typing curriculum, but its lack of student feedback and engaging activities -- and only basic teacher tools -- keep this site from competing with some of the other titles available.