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UltraKey 5.0

By Susan W. Hixson - Posted Nov 1, 2005
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Bytes of Learning Inc., 60 Renfrew Drive, Suite 210, Mark­ham Ontario L3R OE1 Canada. Phone: 800/465-6428; Fax: 905/475-8650; Internet: http://www.bytesoflearning.com/.

Price: $99—School edition, two stations. $149—School edition, five stations. $695—School edition, 30 stations. $1,195—School edition, 60 stations. $1,995—School edition, 100 stations.

All school editions are networkable and include all class management and reporting tools. E-delivered licensing options are slightly lower in cost. District licensing plans are available.

$500—School site license, UltraKey 5.0 Data Server.

$40—Home edition with record-keeping for eight students and the ability to communicate with a school data server. The company's "Take It Home Bonus" program for schools can lower this price substantially.

Audience: The publisher recommends this program for K-12 students. The reviewer notes that the read aloud options will enable very young students to try the program. Hand size, however, may limit the success of the youngest students. Most school programs do not begin typing lessons until the middle of 2nd grade.

Format: Win/Mac hybrid CD-ROM or online download.

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows systems: 60-180 MB hard drive space, 64 MB RAM, Windows 98SE/NT/2000/XP/XP Pro, 16-bit sound, SVGA video, SAPI text-to-speech (included).

Macintosh systems: 60-180 MB hard drive space, 64 MB RAM, Macintosh OS 9.2, 10.2x and later.

Description: UltraKey 5.0 is an innovative program that adjusts to student needs and motivates the practice of keyboarding for accuracy and speed.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: For this review, I downloaded the online software. The program was installed automatically and ready to open.

To begin the program, educators must enter the names of class members and set the challenge level. In addition, password access for each student must be supplied. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: UltraKey 5.0 is an organized and understandable program that teaches and reinforces touch typing. Students are given direct practice as they use the home keys and learn the location of the letters.

The program introduces 12 categories of lessons specific to the needs of the typist. The lessons begin with a warm-up followed by a review of the letters introduced in the previous lesson.

Students are guided to place their fingers correctly on the home row, maintain correct posture, and type letters as they are highlighted and pronounced on the screen. The students work for speed and accuracy as they follow the voice and onscreen prompts throughout the lessons.

Letters are introduced in chains to make words, encouraging improvement in speed and accuracy. Each lesson is followed by a test; all scores are recorded in password-protected student files.

Challenge levels of 1, 2, or 3 are set by the teacher; students also have the ability to change the level of difficulty in their practice.

The screen is well organized and easy for students to learn. Boxes at the top of the screen allow the selection of lessons, skill checks, hand positions, and more. The right side of the screen includes Internet links for additional help.

Parents can purchase compatible software for home use from the school at attractive prices. Students can practice online at home and communicate with the school to record progress. All scores are saved and available to the teacher for evaluation and progress reports.

Several instructional videos are available to introduce the product and motivate interest. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: UltraKey 5.0 is easy to use. The student simply selects her or his name and logs in with a password. The lessons progress at levels that are appropriate for the learner. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Product support is available by calling the toll free telephone number for North America (800/465-6428) or by sending e-mail through the company's Web page. A considerable amount of information is available on the company's Web site. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: In this age of computer use, the skill of typing cannot be over-emphasized. There is no really fun way to learn to type; students must simply practice letter placement and typing.

UltraKey 5.0 has some nice features to motivate student practice and learning. The program provides review and practice in several ways. Students work through letters, then words, and, finally, sentences. The program motivates students as they see their results and measure their own improvement.

I highly recommend this program for use in schools and at home. It provides structured practice with typing patterns and words that keep learners working to improve. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Susan W. Hixson, Integrating the Internet, Educational Consultant, 480/837-7803; swhixson@yahoo.com.


 
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