Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2017

Typing Pal

Thorough typing program takes students from hunt-and-peck to mastery

Subjects & skills
Skills
N/A

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
1-12
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Pros: Clean interface, extensive settings and customization features, and multiple font options.

Cons: Toggling backspace usage isn't an option, doesn't allow students to receive individual lesson assignments, and animations can be distracting.

Bottom Line: This comprehensive and customizable keyboarding curriculum is the ideal solution for schools and multiple-age groups.

Typing Pal includes extensive configuration tools for teachers to customize the student experience. Study all of the available settings before your students begin the program to best make use of their study time. Then, start students off by showing the "7 Keys to Success in Learning to Type!" video. Have students complete the included initial test, then adjust the targets for your students. Have them work on lessons frequently and for short durations; by keeping a positive and playful atmosphere while gradually raising your expectations, you can make sure that students progress while enjoying themselves. Encourage students to aim for the golden icons that are earned when they demonstrate perfect accuracy. The two included games can be used as a reward for students who reach goals or complete assignments; if a competitive environment is helpful, students can compete for high scores.

The site's user guide has plenty of advice for teachers. Pedagogical approach documents will familiarize you with teaching keyboarding. The resources also include a letter to parents and worksheets for ergonomics. Teachers can keep an eye on student performance and progress through the student logs, where you can also watch lesson video replays to see where students struggle and where they shine. The back-end settings can help you create groups within your classroom to assign specific groups of texts, or handle multiple classrooms at once. Texts have Canadian spellings, so U.S.-based teachers may want to make some edits. 

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Typing Pal is a thorough program for students who need to learn and perfect their keyboarding technique. The course focuses on accuracy before speed and includes three learning environments that have different visuals and practice texts. They're aimed at elementary (Super Paws), middle (TGIF), and high school students (The Office). There's also a Classic environment, which is suitable for all ages. The exercises have large, readable text and introduce new keys gradually with a lot of repetition. Students are shown what their targets are before each exercise and then shown their scores afterward. The tests at the end of each step are structured similarly to the exercises and focus on what has been practiced. The program includes a large set of texts for typing practice, which are customizable by the teacher. There are also improvement activities that are automatically generated by the site's algorithm, which keeps track of which keys or fingers need more practice.

Typing Pal effectively uses color to keep the screen environment fresh, as well as color-coded keys that correspond to finger placement and usage. Notifications keep students informed of their progress, and the site uses motivational tools, such as colorful badges, golden icons for perfect accuracy, and a certificate of completion to keep students aiming higher. Typing Pal includes two games to extend the learning: Monkeys in Jeopardy allows students to practice words and special characters, while Cosmik Ball tests individual keys (often in combination with the Shift key). 

 

 

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Typing Pal is a valuable tool for students to learn typing and keyboarding skills; its three environment levels and customizable texts keep learning relevant to students' classes and skill levels. When students take the initial timed test, it's easy to track their improvement over the course, since the final test is identical. The course includes a number of motivational tools to keep students tracking their own progress. During each lesson, students can see their current accuracy percentage, number of mistakes, speed, and progress. This gives students an awareness of how they're doing within the lesson. Students also have access to the video replays of their own exercises to allow them to clearly see where they struggle. The built-in improvement exercises automatically customize themselves to each student's needs and provide targeted practice. Teachers can also give older students more control over their goals, helping students take charge of their own learning.

The back end features very powerful student management tools where settings for groups and activities can be modified. There are also customizable fonts for students with special needs, including dyslexia-friendly fonts. Typing Pal is missing the ability to turn the backspace key on or off for students during tests, however; use of the backspace key is not allowed. Adding this option to the settings would be helpful. Animations or a keyboard viewer are also displayed to encourage students to look at the screen rather than their keyboard while typing, but this can distract from looking at the letters and words to be typed. Overall, Typing Pal is clearly organized with easy-to-read options and screens. The teacher tools are many, and students experience fun activities, motivating rewards, and complete training, allowing them to master their keyboarding skills.

 

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

Three different environments, each with an inviting and clean interface, help each student succeed. Large text, often colorful screens, and interesting assignments make regular practice easy. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Typing Pal is meant to be used frequently for short durations, getting students to learn and practice their new skills. Its lessons are broken down into small, gradual steps, and students are encouraged with badges.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Extensive teacher documentation gets you up and running quickly, and lessons on ergonomics round out the learning. There's little guidance for students during their lessons, however, so teachers may need to be nearby for younger learners.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jenny Bristol Homeschooling parent

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