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Keyboard Classroom is a program that helps users learn to type through a series of increasingly difficult drills and one minute “fluency” tests. Users can practice as much as they’d like, then move on to the timed fluency test in which a certain number of correct key strokes and less than 5 errors must be made to pass. As each fluency is completed, users earn tokens towards games they can play in the Arcade. Passing a fluency six times moves the user up the ranks from Cadet to Private to Specialist and on. Bugle-like sound effects work with the military theme, and error sounds are minimized so as not to scare off beginners.
Keyboard Classroom stresses proper finger placement, and comes with keyboard “finger guides” to teach users to return fingers to the home keys. From the start, users can choose from one of three categories, in order of increasing difficulty: Typing Finger Trainer, Typing Words, or Home Stretch. To unlock the Typing Sentences and Capital Stretch category, users must first complete several Typing Words fluencies. Keyboard Classroom is a great resource for any child learning how to type, and it was specifically developed to meet the unique needs of children with learning disabilities.
Keyboard Classroom’s goal is to help kids, especially those with learning disabilities, learn to type. The program is appropriate for classroom use. Keyboard Classroom strengthens muscle memory for different typing skills through a sequence of typing drills, each building on the last in difficulty. Proper finger placement and typing accuracy are drilled into users as each fluency must be passed six times identically to move on to a new fluency.
The drills get more complex and users must type faster to pass each new fluency. To pass a fluency, no more than five errors can be made. Most of the time it’s easy to see when a user has made an error, but some fluencies move quickly and the user doesn’t realize an error has been made.
The program is suitable for typing beginners and anyone wanting to improve their touch-typing speed and accuracy. Keyboard Classroom is direct and focused on typing, not on providing leisure time for kids, so parents and teachers will like it. Each fluency must be passed six times to move up in ranks and on to a new fluency within that same category. This means it could get tedious for some users, especially those who aren’t beginners or who don’t have patience.
That said, this drilling aspect of the program is an essential part of its approach to learning typing. The one-minute timed fluencies are short enough that users can easily complete a few in one sitting and come back the next day. The Arcade games, which users can cash in two tokens to play, are meant to balance out some of this tedium, much as a parent might reward a child for completing their homework. Keyboard Classroom would have more kid appeal if some of the game-like elements were incorporated into the typing fluencies; however this might compromise its educational value.
Keyboard Classroom is quick to install. The simplicity of the program means it’s easy to get started once it’s installed: type in the access code and then the user’s name to begin. The straightforward layout of the program makes it easy to use. Whenever a new fluency is started, pop-up bubbles appear with a few very simple instructions for the user. There’s no need to refer to a manual, and provided a child can read, he or she can use the program without adult supervision. Minimal adult help may be needed if the child can’t yet read.
The only difficulty our reviewer encountered was in cashing in tokens to play games in the Arcade. Through several attempts, the Arcade is either very slow to load, or was not working at all. Beyond that, Keyboard Classroom was fast and intuitive.
Keyboard Classroom is best for kids who are just learning to type, especially the target audience of kids ages 7-14 and those with learning disabilities. Beginners would benefit the most from the program’s approach of using muscle memory to teach typing skills. Keyboard Classroom is not particularly child-focused, so anyone who still uses the hunt-and-peck method may also find the program enjoyable and beneficial.
PC: Windows 2000, XP or Vista, Adobe Flash.return to top of page
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