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Typing Time is a complete keyboarding program that includes tutorials, practice drills and games, and a reasonably well-featured word processor. Users can select from letter keys, numbers and symbols, practice, keypad basics, and games.
Letter Keys are taught in 20 lessons offered in a recommended sequence, but selectable in any order if desired. Lesson 1 - Home Row, begins with posture. Users are shown a 3-D model of the proper position, and Casey the narrator describes the essentials. Users are prompted to strike specific keys. Correct answers cause Casey to smile; incorrect actions produce a grimace. The program is good at providing different forms of positive feedback -- always important when learning a new skill. For the homerow lesson, the keyboard is shown on screen, with transparent hands striking the correct blinking keys when an error is made. When first learning a new letter, the program only accepts correct key stokes; later, the program checks for both speed and accuracy.As users progress through practice drills, they are challenged to improve their typing speed. "Touch" typing -- where the user looks at the material to be typed, rather than their fingers, is sometimes required by the use of nonsensical letter combinations, rather than memorizable words or phrases. Interestingly, in the early lessons perfect accuracy is not a factor in these timed typing drills.
At the end of each lesson, the user is presented a game that exercises the keyboarding skills learned. Following completion of the game, the program displays a printable record of lesson completion and performance, including samples of the user's typing performance. This report is personalized with the student's name and class ID number, if desired.
The other sections -- numbers and symbols, practice, and keypad basics -- are structured similarly to the Letter Key lessons.
Typing Time is a solid typing instruction program, especially well-suited for classroom or school lab use. Upon launching, the user is prompted to login. New users enter their first and last names, a class ID, and a self-selected password. The program's audio may be turned off, and users can read the instructions, if the program is used in a classroom or lab setting. The program generates a number of useful reports and graphs (by lesson, overall, top 10 game scores, etc.).
Typing Time, like many other programs faced with the task of teaching this highly useful (but boring to learn) skill, attempts to compensate for the drudgery by including games that exercise the skills being taught. Our young reviewers, ages 11 and 12, found the games to be of mixed attractiveness. Their favorite was Paintball Planet. In this pseudo-arcade game, the user must protect her spaceship's viewscreen from flying paintballs by quickly typing each line as seen without errors. Make a mistake, or type too slowly, and the spaceship must expend wiper fluid to clean off the mess.
Typing Time does not take advantage of Windows auto-play feature. Instead, users must go to Start > Run then enter setup.exe to install the program. Not a big deal - it took us less than 2 minutes to install. The program installation also thoughtfully included an uninstall icon in the start menu.
Program navigation is generally intuitive, and follows a pre-determinded path unless overridden by the user.
Typing Time is a carefully organized, lesson-based, complete learn-to-type program. 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.
PC: Windows 95/98/Me/XP/2000, Pentium 233 or faster cpu, 40 MB hard drive space, 32 MB RAM, 800x400 color display, 4x or faster CD-ROM, Soundblaster compatible sound card .return to top of page
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