I planned on using it with my seven-year-old daughter Ellie, and my nine-year-old son Jeff. They are both interested in using the computer more, and I knew learning to type would be beneficial.
At seven, Ellie was a bit younger than the recommended user age of 8-adult, but I thought she was ready so we gave it a try.
What’s Is This Product?
The UltraKey Online Family Subscription is house online. I received a year long subscription to the product, and I was able to set up accounts for up to eight kids.
The family dashboard was easy to access, and the process of setting up accounts for the kids was simple. I had them each pick a simple password, and they really liked that part!
From the dashboard, I could set goals for the kids, view progress, and work through the lessons on my own.
It took me a little digging through the documentation to figure out where to go to have the kids login. Once I found those directions, I bookmarked the page to keep it simple for them.
Tell Me More About UltraKey Online
In UltraKey Online, lessons are a nice mix. There are quick video animations, puzzles and games, and practice lessons for learning. The company does a nice job of keeping the material engaging.
The lessons require students to watch an animation, and then practice. There are many opportunities to practice within each lesson.
My kids liked how the fingers were on the keyboards in the lessons, and they could watch those fingers to see which one to move. This helped them learn which finger goes where very quickly, and how to position for home row.
The color coding was another benefit. Each color represents one of your fingers, so the kids could easily see what keys the pinky should strike, and which ones the index finger was responsible for.
There are twelve lessons teaching new keys. These lessons are broken into multiple parts. Here’s the breakdown for lesson one, focusing on the home row.
What Else Did We Love?
There are many good aspects of this program. The sequential teaching builds a solid foundation for learning to type by touch. Posture and correct typing position are emphasized, helping students be more comfortable when typing for longer periods of time. There are also stretching exercises recommended, and I’ve used some of these since I’m typing a ton with all my writing. They really do help the hand to relax a bit.
The reports from the dashboard were very thorough. They were easy to access and save as a PDF.
Finally, I like each child having an account, because it kept their lessons, goals, and results separate.
What Didn’t We Love?
The amount of practice within the lessons was very discouraging for one of my potential typers. Especially when all he was doing was typing a over and over and over again. As more letters were added, it was a better experience, but the first lesson took a long time.
The games were discouraging for both typers.
The game zone looked super fun! (Here’s a screenshot)
Unfortunately, there seemed to be a huge disconnect between the level of the typer and the level of the games. When Ellie was on lesson one, this is what popped up for the game:
Here’s a kid who is working hard learning home row, and wanting to practice it through games. But, the very first sentence she was asked to type had capital letters, letters outside of the home row, and a question mark.
It was discouraging. She didn’t know how to type the sentence correctly, and she kept getting it wrong. Finally I asked her to stop playing the game. I went into a couple of the other games, hoping we’d just picked the wrong one or something. But, they were all for typers much more advanced than my beginners.
Unfortunately, the videos had a problem with my slow internet. They kept stalling. And since watching the videos was a required part of the lessons, we moved very slowly.
Jeffrey got discouraged with the pace, and I knew this wouldn’t be a good fit for him. So after the first lesson, I excused him from further typing instruction with this program.
Ellie kept plucking away, and she is still wants to learn to type. She has a solid command of the home row now, and is beginning to get the hang of moving the fingers back where they belong. She is enjoying the program (when the videos work!) and asks to practice her typing during our Family Writing Time.
I’m not going to base my opinion on the video stalling. That’s not the company’s problem, it’s mine (and one of the downsides of living in the middle of nowhere.)
I do wish there had been an option to skip videos. That would have made the experience go more smoothly. And the game zone needs synced to ability, because otherwise it’s useless for beginners.
The product wasn’t a good fit for one of my kids, but it was for the other. It definitely teaches essential typing skills. And my child is learning to type and enjoying the instruction. She is going to continue using it, and I think I’ll have my teen go back and beef up her typing skills too.
My final verdict?
If you have unlimited internet that can handle streaming, this program is a solid one and I would definitely recommend it! If not, pick something different.
For more information about the UltraKey Online Family Subscription, please click on the banner below.