Typing would seem to be an ideal subject matter for computer-aided instruction: learning to type takes practice, different students need to practice different skills, and students progress at different paces. In fact, typing programs were among the first educational PC titles developed. The question we posed to our reviewers was simple - do they work?
SuperKids' review teams have looked at more than a dozen "learn to type" programs. All of them were judged to be effective by our parent, teacher, and kid reviewers - but as one noted: "you have to want to learn to type, to succeed." The one advantage that a traditional classroom typing course has over all of these programs, is the watchful eye of a teacher, discouraging the tendency most beginners have to look at their hands and not the screen or paper.
This updated comparison includes our review of Keyboard Classroom, a program specially designed for users with learning disabilities, but useful for any student learning to type.
Read, Write & Type, [ages 6 to 8] from Talking Fingers (previously published by The Learning Company), is a combination program, merging the teaching of phonics-based reading skills with an introduction to typing.
For video-game lovers:
JumpStart Typing, [ages 7 to 10] from Knowledge Adventure, is a fun and effective learn-to-type program. It is best suited for children who like sports arcade games, and competition.
Mario Teaches Typing 2, [ages 6 and up] from Brainstorm uses characters and a style familiar to millions of Nintendo-lovers.
Slam Dunk Typing, [ages 10 and up] from The Learning Company (formerly from Creative Wonders), targets basketball and video-game loving teenagers.
For classroom students:
Typing Time, [ages 11-14] from Thomson Learning / South-Western Educational Publishing, is a complete keyboarding program that includes tutorials, practice drills and games, covering letter keys, numbers and symbols, and keypad basics. Although not as flashy as some of the better-known programs, it is well-designed for classroom/computer lab use, and no-nonsense home learners.
All the Right Type Three, [ages 9 and up] from Ingenuity Works, is a no-nonsense program. Users immediately begin to type, following a program of lessons and graduated drills. There are a few nods to entertainment, but for the most part students focus on the task at hand and the intrinsic rewards of a lesson learned and a job well-done.
Type to Learn, [ages 8 to 14] from Sunburst, is a single focus program. Twenty-two lessons illustrate everything from proper posture and hand position, to the correct finger selection for every key on the keyboard, including numbers and punctuation. A motivated student who goes through all the lessons, will learn to type.
UltraKey, [ages 8 and up] from Bytes of Learning, takes a straightforward approach, beginning with the basics. This is a solid instructional program, with a well-structured approach to teaching, practicing, and testing. Not a lot of fun, but effective.
For beginners to professionals:
Mavis Beacon, [ages 12 to adult] from The Learning Company (formerly from Mindscape), is a well-polished program designed for anyone from a begining typist, to an experienced keyboard professional looking to improve their skills. This program customizes lessons and drills based on the keystrokes of the user!
Typing Instructor Deluxe [ages 10 and up] from Individual Software, is a well-organized and complete typing instruction program. Although it may be successfully used by young students, it will be most appreciated by older students and adults.
Typing Tutor, [ages 10 and up] from Davidson / Simon & Schuster consists of lessons and tests. Once past the beginner level, the user can choose to practice on selections from interesting literature, or on stories about old movie clips. Speed and accuracy may also be built, using three challenging games. This is a great program for anyone - including adults - interested in improving exisiting typing skills. It would not, however, be one of our top choices for beginning typists.