Nov 05 typing – going open source Mikey McKillip

Taking a closer look at open source typing resources for students to use both at school and at home. 


I wanted to start the year assessing student skills accessing technology. One skill that teachers and I agree that overall, many students lack is typing. The teachers and I became painfully aware of the students lack of typing proficiency as we waited and assisted and waited and assisted students to type well basically anything.  

Our school had chosen many years ago to use Mavis Beacon as their typing instruction program. I have to say that I am not a big fan but it serves its purpose, just not with my students. I looked at some fantastic online services that would track student progress. Most I found were “pay per student account” options but I wasn’t interested in having the school or the students have to buy something else.

I started my quest for online typing with my Pre-K/Kindergarten teacher. She and I found a number of typing applications that were not only free but engaging for our students. 

At first we tried Learn2Type; a free resource for teachers and schools to enable student to have individual monitored accounts. The teacher can track generate typing reports on student progress. It was easy for me to set up accounts for teachers and students. The drawback of learn2type is that it is not very engaging. It is mainly straightforward lesson after lesson with an option for typing tests. The tests are long and if the student misses a letter or word and continues to type, the student does not receive a score causing some frustration. There are two levels for students. One is for lower primary (some sun characters help you along) and the other is for upper elementary and higher grade levels. I found that student grew tired of the program quickly. There are games available for students to take a break but the games have nothing to do with typing – disappointing.
BBC Dance Mat Typing to the rescue!
It really didn’t matter what age level we had using this free online typing application students continue to enjoy it. The BBC Schools has done a fantastic job of incorporating Flash Animation into their typing program. Willy Rock-N-Role characters walk students though engaging lessons and practice on essential typing skills. The students not only enjoy the little time we spend at school but have used the program over and over again at home. This is a must have application for any elementary school.

Go for the Gold!

Another typing application I recommend for those higher-level typists is Typing Racer. Students can race against others from their own class or even other student on the Internet. Students can access with their own account or as a quest. They will need an account if they want to post their scores online. 

Some other online typing apps worth looking at:

Lots of free typing games to get students motivated to type

http://freetypinggame.net/

Peter's Online Typing Course - free lessons with just a few annoying ads

http://www.typing-lessons.org/



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