Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bytes of Learning REVIEW

UltraKey Bytes of Learning
For the past several weeks, we were given an UltraKey Online Family Subscription to review for Bytes of Learning. This is an online based keyboarding program that teaches proper technique, and builds skill, accuracy, and speed. This keyboarding program by Bytes of Learning is good for all ages and skill levels. This subscription was good for up to 7 users, but I only needed it for one. 
UltraKey Online Family Edition
Our experience:
Mr. B needs keyboarding experience due to some fine motor issues with his hands. I wanted him to use this program 4 days a week, but with poor muscle tone in his hands, we used it 3 days a week, instead. This program uses video clips and voice over to teach the class. This is an effective means of instruction for special needs learners, and I really liked that part. I wish we were able to skip sections that we already knew. I can understand the need to NOT skip, but there were times when we really could have. Having the ability to skip unnecessary to us portions would have reduced time and frustration levels greatly. The lessons are not your normal "type the letter A..." style lessons, but rather they involve a varied difficulty level, and mixed letters from the same row or section. You have the ability to control your skill level to attune the program somewhat, and you can set your own goals. 
For a family subscription, you can add up to 7 students. I had initially planned to enroll both myself, and Mr. B. I could use accuracy conditioning to help reduce the amount of backspacing I use (like right here...3 times...) and Mr. B of course needs the full gamut. The issue I had was, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to choose a student! I set up goals for each of us, etc, but I was stuck with whatever auto pilot the program is set to. I am sure it's an oversight on my part, and this is why I've yet to contact support over it. It's not a big issue for us, since really it's only for Mr. B anyway. He can use it as is, but if you wanted multiple children to use, I'm really not sure how to switch between students haha! I would have sought to figure that out, but it was just fine for us this way so to me, it wasn't a big issue. 
Here are a few screen shots of the first couple of lessons and the overall layout:

This is your main screen.  when you log on. You can choose to see your account settings, subscription info, or go to your lessons. 
Here's a sample of your progress report. This is GREAT for portfolios. It auto updates after each lesson. Obviously, this was after we just got started. 

I like that there's color and it's not overly boring. Mr. B LOOOOOOOOOOOVES the background of the Earth like it's from the ISS. 

Here's a few screenshots of the actual lessons in progress. The lessons are really great. I'm seriously impressed. This is nothing like keyboarding classes I had in school! 

I like how it's color coded. This makes it easy for Mr. B to see his errors. 

Following the skills check, you can see how you are looking compared to your overall goals. This is great for motivation. 

There's also a game section with six games that reinforce your learning. 

After completing a game, you earn this little on screen award. 

Overall, this serves our need. It's a fun, easy to implement program that works for us. Mr. B does it without protest, though I do wish it was obvious how to change between students. Overall I would recommend this to others. 
Does Bytes of Learning Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

You can set your own goals, but that's about as far as the customization goes. You can't really skip, or maybe that's just the way I have our settings. I wouldn't advise skipping lessons since you'll miss something important.   

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

There are no hidden fees, but you are bound to the time restraints of your subscription. This is good for all ages. 

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long? 

It's not boring. Once I figured out how to stop the auto-speech, Mr. B was able to hold his attention much better because the lessons moved more quickly. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.
This is only keyboarding. 

Please see what my fellow Crew mates had to say over at The Homeschool Review Crew! 

UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}
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