What is safe and secure software?

Safe and secure software

Of course, there are free programs available but when students are learning online, school teachers and parents need to be sure that all data is safe and not being spammed, as can be the case with free software.

“I initially got another typing tutor and was emailed continuously with snippets of information. It continued inspite me telling them to stop. I cancelled my subscription and bought KAZ. I’m so pleased I did – it just worked and no spam!” Mary Owen UK

Why give software away for free?

Generally free software is a means for gathering or ‘havesting’ data and for generating revenue from advertising. However, the real concern is what is done with this data.

“Where did they get my information, my email, learn my shopping habits, what I like to eat, read?”

Data collection is a science, with degrees and doctorates in the subject. Google and Facebook are just a couple amongst many, that harness and collect data. They are able to provide a snapshot of where, when and how we shop, purchase and browse. Allegedly, elections have been won using this science!

Where do they get this information?

Your browsing history and your favourite blogging/posting sites.

Remember, by just browsing, your location and search history can all be monitored.

With ‘opt-in’ sites, there is a larger collection of data, as ‘opting-in’ gives the site the go-ahead to gather more information such as email addresses, job sector, position etc.

Free courses may put a cookie on your computer in order to harvest data and by ‘opting in’ you are allowing them to show advertisements or pop-ups, which may or may not be appropriate for the user. How can you guarantee the content from this site if you do not have any control?

We are all aware of ‘cookies’, ‘bugs’ and ‘worms’. Essentially, these are all the same but some are malicious, others are not.

So before you download freeware check if the site is secure? What guarantees are there? Is there a privacy policy in place? Is there a data policy in place and is there any institutional governance?

But I have anti-virus software…

Yes and there is a very good reason why we all have some form of anti-virus software installed on our computers, protecting us and our data. These subscriptions keep our computers safe but they are constantly fighting the cyberwars and continually updating bug fixes for new viruses infecting not only your computer but those of the wider web community. However, what they cannot stop us doing is giving our data away freely.

GDPR rules and regulations gave us a reprieve for a few months but all seems to have returned back to normal, with inboxes filling with junk /spam.

Safe and Secure…

Importantly, remember it is your duty to safeguard your family, especially your children, to keep their data and learning environment safe.

Teachers are responsibe for ensuring the health & wellbeing, online safety and security of all colleagues and for protecting their students and their data.

Is it really worth taking a risk with free software? What are the legal implications? Is the company legally registered? Can I contact them and is their information clearly displayed? Always read their Privacy and Data Policy.

The KAZ website and all their courses are secure and as members of ICO.org strictly adhere to their rules and regulations. They are a UK registered company, their Privacy and Data Policy is clearly displayed on their website and all their patents registered in the UK and US. They guarantee no pop-ups, no advertising and no solicitation by email.

ERGONOMICS – How to work safely

Neck, hand and fingers pain, RSI use KAZ typing software

The word ergonomics is derived from the Greek words ‘ergon’ meaning work and ‘nomos’ meaning laws.

According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘it is relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment,’ be it in an office environment or within the home.

Simply defined, ergonomics is a science and is concerned with the design or arrangement of workplaces, equipment, furniture and systems, so that they suit the people who use them, enhancing their comfort, safety, efficiency and productivity.

Poor ergonomics subjects the body to awkward posture, repetitive / sustained movement over a long period, localised pressure to a body part, forceful exertions or extreme temperature.

These can all lead to numbness, tingling, cramp and pain of the hands, wrists, shoulders, neck, back, head, eyes and lower limbs, causing inflammation or irritation of tendons and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Ergonomists, also known as human factors specialists analyse the interaction between people and machinery/equipment. They have an understanding of musculoskeletal function and apply their knowledge to ensure correct workplace setup, correct furniture and make sure equipment is safe and as easy to use as possible.

Poor ergonomics can be seen in many professions, including those where typing at length is required. Slaving over a hot keyboard can be as dangerous as using heavy machinery. Research shows that if you work with computers, you are more likely to develop Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) at some point in your career, than be involved in a car accident. Indeed, Philip Virgo, editor of the IT DPM Skills Trend Report
says, “the demise of traditional keyboard skills is the
main cause of RSI”.

Legal and safety experts fear that the health problems caused by an estimated four million keyboard users will grow without proper safeguards or training. Pressures on
employees can only increase, as executives are forced to take over responsibilities formerly covered at secretarial and clerical level. More and more are having to do their own typing because of economic

necessity, the lack of support staff and the speed of response that is required in most businesses today. This trend, when coupled with the constant danger of RSI, means there is a need for employers to offer keyboard skills training. This silent threat in the office is real and must be addressed.

KAZ typing software addresses these issues by delivering a tailored course, teaching the a-z keys in just 90 minutes. The program includes a specific module on correct posture, typing technique and RSI.

Graham Coath

Ergonomic and assistive technology consultant

Graham is a professional ergonomic and assistive technology consultant and has been working in the area of workplace assessments, adjustments, assistive technology and training for over 15 years. He has built his reputation providing assessments to the DSA and workplace and is hugely respected with clients ranging from individual home users to the largest financial institutions. As a master trainer he can demonstrate the benefits of products at your desk to ensure you make the right choice.

For a virtual home assessments or further advice contact: Graham at https://www.dseu.co.uk

Review by Cat Hase – Feb 2020 – Absolutely brilliant!

I’ve been experiencing some back and neck pain and suspected it was due to my desk set up. I had an idea of things I could try but no real clue as to whether they were the right things to do or not.

Enter Graham….

Graham did a virtual assessment with me, asking about the type of work I do, how I’m currently set up and all sorts of related questions to get a good understanding of where my issues might be coming from.

He then explained the different solutions along with WHY each one would help me. Knowing the why made a real difference to me. I’ve always wondered why on earth a chair would slope forwards and now I understand it’s about positioning your pelvis and back correctly. Suddenly it makes sense!

He gave me tips on how to use my current equipment better (like my sit/stand desk) and gave me recommendations of equipment that would help me further. I’ve already acted on his advice. As he said; “you only get one back” so it’s crucial that we do what we can to support and protect it.

Massive thanks for helping me find the right solutions for me – ones I can use not only at my desk but also when out and about.

Upsurge in online learning fuels increasing need for touch typing skills

Student learning to type with KAZ Online - distance learning

The UK school sector has lost many teaching days this year one way or another – deep cleaning for norovirus, flooding, snow days in some areas and now the coronavirus, forcing schools to close until further notice. Senior leadership teams are rising to the challenge, making plans for students to continue their education from home. For the first time the computer is becoming the main medium for delivering learning. This trend is likely to continue but underlying issues are coming to light. 

Many learners enjoy using resources online but the majority are not trained, equipped or used to producing their work in this way. It is one thing to send a text, fill in a worksheet online or keep in touch with friends on social media but quite another to be expected to use technology for all classwork. Yet in many cases, this is what we will be asking them to do. 

Most students are trained to handwrite but not to use a keyboard efficiently. Their keying in skills are poor and many are slow and inaccurate. There are also health and safety issues involved. Long-term extensive use of the keyboard can lead to RSI and possible spinal damage. When you think of how many hours schools spend teaching handwriting, it is quite astounding that they cannot allocate just 90 minutes to teach the basics of touch typing, which is all it takes with KAZ, our Accelerated Learning cloud-based program. 

The overriding argument for years has been that children will be expected to write by hand in their examinations but those days may now be numbered. An increasing number of students with dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions are using word processors as their normal means of working and are now allowed to use the same methods in exams.  

Some schools, notably international schools and independent schools in the UK are ahead of the curve, making sure all pupils have had training in touch typing.  At a ‘live classroom’ at BETT Malaysia 2017, Iain Stevens, Head of Curriculum Support at Taylor’s International School, Kuala Lumpur said: ‘One of the things which attracted me to KAZ was the Dyslexia Screen, where you can change the fonts, the colours and so on. When I looked at other programs, they couldn’t actually do that and that was one of the reasons why I chose KAZ.’ 

Of course, there are free programs available but when pupils are learning online, schools need to be sure that students and their data are safe and not being spammed, as can be the case with free software. Our website and all our courses are secure. We are members of ICO.org and strictly adhere to their rules and regulations. We guarantee no pop-ups, no advertising and no solicitation by email. 

Teachers also want to be able to set up students easily and see at a glance if they are doing the work and how well they are progressing. The KAZ admin panel allows teachers to upload student lists in minutes, send logon details using real or pseudo email addresses and monitor student progress in real time. Kathryn Stowell, Head of Outreach and AAC at Charlton Park Academy, supports around 200 secondary students in many schools, so she has first- hand experience of distance learning:  ‘KAZ teaches touch typing fast so students are not taking much time out from other subjects to learn the keyboard,’ said Kathryn. ‘Best of all, we have one portal at the school and can see from the student logins how they are getting on. With students right across London, this saves us time when we are checking on progress.’ 

Additionally, to help keep students engaged, motivated and on task, we have launched a touch typing competition which runs until June 30th 2020. Students can take the timed test as often as they wish and their best score will be saved. A leader board is published on the KAZ site each month and the final result will be announced in July. Schools that have a KAZ licence can check up on student progress at any time which means they can also run their own in-house tournaments and maybe even pitch staff against students.

Schools that are moving to online learning in the next few months may find several hidden benefits from teaching their students to touch type. Not only will they equip their pupils with a ‘life skill’ they can use whilst at school, for exam access arrangements and carry forward with them into FE and the workplace but pupils may also start composing texts at speeds of around 50–70 words per minute.

The Department of Education has deemed BESA’s LendEd site the ‘go to’ approved platform for home learning resources in the even of school closures. Our software is the only touch typing software listed and approved. In an effort to help schools during this turbulent period of home learning, we have halved the price of all our school online licences. Please use code: KAZC19 at checkout.

https://kaz-type.com/educational-edition.aspx

TESTIMONIAL FOR KAZ TOUCH-TYPING PROGRAMME

Lyndhurst Dyslexia Centre Trial KAZ

I would like to thank the Kaz team for allowing us to trial the Kaz touch- typing programme at Lyndhurst Dyslexia Centre.

In order to trial the programme, we prioritised a set of dyslexic students in Year 6 who are transitioning to Secondary school next academic year and therefore it was felt that they would particularly benefit from learning to touch-type. A couple of students had some prior experience of other touch-typing programmes. The touch-typing club took place within the Lyndhurst Dyslexia Centre and sessions were offered three times a week for 30 minutes for a month. It definitely speaks volumes about the Kaz touch-typing programme that the students keenly attended these sessions before school!

All students progressed well through the programme; building on both their speed and accuracy. A number of the students commented on how the programme progressed them swiftly and they enjoyed being able to self-monitor their own progress. In observing the students, I felt the ease of progression through the programme and the fact that students were allowed to progress through the stages without having to pass tasks at a certain speed or accuracy was very motivating. At the end of the programme the students commented on how much their touch- typing skills had improved from completing the course and they were delighted with their certificates. All students are now choosing to type their work in the Centre and are using touch-typing skills.

All of the students benefitted and were keen to personalise their settings and having the chance to choose background and font colours is proven to benefit dyslexic learners. I also observed the students continually making use of the keyboard positioned on the computer screen to ensure they were touch-typing. One of the students had a great idea this week and explained that we should take a picture of the keyboard and tape it above the computer screen like they do in the Kaz programme!

As a teacher I found setting up the Kaz programme for a group very simple and it was easy to monitor students progress. For extra chance to practise, students did have an opportunity to use the programme at home and found this beneficial.

I would highly recommend this programme for anyone working with Dyslexic students.

Thanks so much for letting us trial Kaz and we are now looking forward to introducing the programme to more of our students.

Ruth Pierce
Specialist Dyslexia Teacher and Assessor Lyndhurst Dyslexia Centre, Grove Lane Camberwell
London
SE5 8SN

Why YOU should bother with Typing Tests

Typing Tests - Why YOU should bother

If you are an employer then you need to ensure that your staff are competent, efficient, up to date with current practice and productive and all this just to maintain pace with the competition?

But how do we know if staffing is excessive, if you are top heavy or worse everyone isn’t pulling in the same direction?

We should all be constantly looking for efficiency in working practice and we do this through regular training? We should not leave the training to other companies and a well trained workforce is not only efficient but grateful and duty bound to be more concerned within the company. After all if you look after your employees then logic dictates they will look after for you.

Isn’t this the reason why so many of the worlds best companies goals are to get to the top and stay there. There is good reason for careful and detailed planning and this is to ensure quality, flexibility, longevity and productivity are the main consideration. Generally this will involve the use of the most up to date and cutting edge technology and machinery.

Commitment works both ways. Train your people well and your people will respond. Ever wondered why everyone wants to play and work and be in the big boys playground?

To quote a spokesman for the UK’s Learndirect, “The most effective and cheapest training course on the market is also the most neglected.”

Did you know that from 1000 free typing tests taken on our KAZ website, 69.7% of the ‘typists’ type at at less than 35wpm?… that is almost 7 out of 10 people unable to type efficiently. (Check out our test – it’s free, will only cost you 90 seconds of your life and you will then be able to accurately predict how much extra productivity can be gained by learning this simple skill.)

Typing is a skill – just like driving. We are taught to drive. We have lessons, followed by a test to confirm proficiency. Every laptop, desktop, Chromebook is sold with an attached keyboard. How are we expected to be proficient with a keyboard, where many of us spend several hours per day, when we are not taught?

If the average working day is 8 hours, it is relatively easy to work out the hours /days /months of our lives we can potentially save by learning this skill.

Let’s assume your staff need to spend 6 hours per day in front of their PC, typing at a speed of 25wpm on emails, work, essays etc., 

If you fall into the above 69.7% category (assuming you’re typing non-stop): 25wpm x 60mins x 6hours =  9000 words in 6 hours

If you fall into the latter, 30% typist category, you should be able to type at 50 wpm (the majority of users leave KAZ at this point): 50wpm x 60mins x 6 hours = 18000 words in 6 hours or the equivalent of 9000 words in 3 hours = a saving of 3 hours per day.

Double the word count in exactly the same time. 

(Out of interest, from the typing tests taken, the remaining 30% typed far in excess of 50wpm!)

Now what if I told you the average speed test of those 69.7% tests taken, was just 18!

Imagine how much of time you can potentially save each day. What would you do with that extra staff time?

So continuing …

3 hours per day x 5 days/week x 48 weeks/year = 

720 hours/year or 

90 days/year 

(based on working 8 hours /day)

Now that’s a lot of productivity saved/gained – should be an easy decision to start checking your employees typing skills.

“…I spent more time looking for the right product than it actually took me to learn…”

KAZ internet search reviews searching for the right product and how to touch type

Have you begun your search yet? This is an essential part of the ‘sorting and sifting’ journey, which along with reading product reviews should at the very least reduce your options.

There are a huge selection of typing tutors available. Some are games based, whilst others focus solely on adult learning. Either way, free or paid, the choices seem endless. Deciding which is the right one for you can be terribly time consuming and if you get it wrong, enough to put you off learning!

Nick: “I searched the internet but actually spent more time searching for the right product than it actually took me to learn to type with KAZ!”

Research is incredibly important when making an important purchase. We often consult friends, books, websites but when it comes to education, we can often be quite blasé in opting for the ‘free’ or cheapest option with the mentality, “Well, I’ve got nothing to lose!”

This is fine if we have the luxury of TIME but do we really want to take that risk with our children or fellow workers. When learning is misguided, results can be quite negative, making learning tedious and with negative conclusions drawn, resulting in an unenthusiastic learner. 

From our research, this is the main reason why so many individuals retrain in later lives.

To really value a lesson, ‘free’ should be taken in context. How many times have you been given something free which you so often discard or move on from? Also typically true with games. How many games do you or your kids have and how often are they played with? The answer should immediately present itself.

A good product will actively seek testing, review and will then make claims it can justify, back up and substantiate. This information will then be clearly displayed on their website.

The KAZ method was developed through years of research and with huge investment from the 3i group. It was designed through innovation, using an Accelerated Learning teaching method and was tested in over 300 education centres across the UK, prior to launch. It was only launched when 93% of learners touch typed the a-z keys in less than 90 minutes. Furthermore, it was tested by the Open University, who were so impressed with the results, they produced a white paper and deployed KAZ to all 90,000 + students per annum, for over 14 years.

It is still the only typing tutor available on the UK’s Learndirect site and the US’s OpenSesame.

Joanne: “A friend recommended a free typing tutor. I really wish I didn’t listen. I spent days and weeks, wasting my time. In the end I bit the bullet and bought KAZ. Within 3 weeks I was typing at 50wpm. Now, one year on, I’ve bought the family version for my 3 kids too.”

Once you’ve searched the web, read the reviews and learned to type, please remember the opening statement!

https://www.bestadvisor.com/typing-software  KAZ Rated Best Pick

https://www.thetop10sites.com/learn-to-type/kaz/ – Joe Schwartz, Typing Tutors Editor –  KAZ Rated 1st

https://whatsgoodtodo.com/kaz-family-edition-touch-type-course-review/ – Reviewed by Sandip Stapleton – Rating: 5/5

Can you spare 90 minutes? What if I now told you it will save you a YEAR in your working life?

Can you spare 90 minutes? What if I now told you it will save you a YEAR in your working life?

If I asked you that question in general, you would immediately take notice but if I then told you it’s to teach you typing skills… you would probably respond; ‘I can type fine with 2 fingers’…’I’ve developed a method which is brill’…”My typing’s good enough”…

Typing is a skill – just like driving. We are taught to drive. We have lessons, followed by a test to confirm proficiency. Every laptop, desktop, Chromebook is sold with an attached keyboard. How are we expected to be efficient on a computer, where many of us spend several hours per day, when we do not have proficiency using its keyboard?

We should not be happy just doing enough to get by. We should be asking, what we can do better that can really make a difference to our daily lives. 

If the average working life is to age 65, it is relatively easy to work out the hours /days /months of our lives we can potentially save by learning this skill.

OK – first lets get the facts, stats and then make some assumptions on which to base our calculations.

From 1000 free typing tests taken on our KAZ website, 69.7% of the ‘typists’ type at at less than 35wpm… that is almost 7 out of 10 people unable to type efficiently. (Check out our test – it’s free, will only cost you 90 seconds of your life and you will then be able to accurately predict how much of your working life can be saved.)

For ease of calculations, let’s assume you need to spend 2 hours per day in front of your PC, typing at a speed of 25wpm on emails, work, essays etc., 

If you fall into the above 69.7% category (assuming you’re typing non-stop): 25wpm x 60mins x 2hours =  3000 words in 2 hours

I realise it doesn’t quite work this way but just stay with me for a little longer…

If you fall into the latter, 30% typist category, you should be able to type at 50 wpm (the majority of users leave KAZ at this point): 50wpm x 60mins x 2 hours = 6000 words in 2 hours or 3000 words per 1 hour = a saving of 1 hour per day.

Double the word count in exactly the same time. 

(Out of interest, from the typing tests taken, the remaining 30% typed in excess of 50wpm or much higher!)

Now what if I told you the average speed test of those 69.7% tests taken,was just 18!

Imagine how much of your life you can potentially save. Wouldn’t you prefer to be more productive or be doing something else with all that time?

So continuing …

Current age: 35 (retire at 65)

Wpm: 25 (taken from KAZ free typing test)

Working 5 days per week and spending 2 hours per day at the computer

You already know you could save 5 hours per week by learning to type properly.

5 hours x 52 weeks = 260 hours per year saved

260 hours x 30 years working life remaining = 7800 hours used up or saved – You decide!

That actually amounts to: 325 days  (7800 hours / 24 hours per day)

Now imagine if you are one of the 69.7% typing at 18 wpm or less and spending a longer time at the computer? I’ll let you enjoy the math on that one… but it’ll save you over a year!

Ever wondered what you would do, if you had an extra YOU… Well, here’s how to save a year at least!

The KAZ method was developed through years of research and with huge investment from the 3i group. It was designed through innovation, using an accelerated learning teaching method and was tested in over 300 education centres across the UK, prior to launch. It was only launched when 93% of learners touch typed the a-z keys in less than 90 minutes. Furthermore, it was tested by the Open University, who were so impressed with the results, they produced a white paper and deployed KAZ to all 90,000 + students per annum for over 14 years.

It is still the only typing tutor available on the UK’s Learndirect site and the US’ OpenSesame.

Missed out on learning this skill in the past, don’t miss out on learning it now. These figures should help you decide.

PRESS RELEASE   KAZ launches FREE international touch typing competition

Students entering the AKZ Worldwide Touch Typing Tournament

The award winning software company KAZ has launched a challenge to schools across the globe using its touch typing program. Go online and test your speeds against the best of the best.

The competition runs from January 10th – June 30th 2020 and schools can join in at any time. Students can take the timed test as often as they wish and their best score will be saved. A leader board will be published on the KAZ site each month and the result will be announced in July.

The student with the highest number of words per minute will be awarded a KAZ Touch Typing Winner’s Certificate and a City & Guilds licence. The winning school will receive The KAZ Touch Typing Trophy 2020, a year’s free subscription to KAZ, as well as press and social media publicity.

Schools that have a KAZ licence can check up on student progress at any time which means they can also run their own in-house tournaments and maybe even pitch staff against students. Find out which of your learners could be a top-flight court reporter, transcriber or programmer of tomorrow. 

Alan Tsui, Academic Enrichment leader at Willow Brook Primary School Academy in Leyton, is keen to improve the typing speeds of his young pupils and frequently challenges them to beat his score: ‘The KAZ Administrator panel and student progress display is absolutely fantastic,’ he said. ‘The children I work with are always thrilled to see their scores displayed in a way that is easy to understand and rank their performances.’

The original idea for the KAZ international touch typing competition came from Dublin Oak Academy, an international boarding school in Ireland. Principal Robert Pattison used KAZ throughout the school.  The boys learnt the basics in hours but to make sure they built up their speeds he set up an inter-form competition where the typing champions of each class were pitted against one another. At one stage this was so successful that he found boys were neglecting their studies to improve their typing speeds! 

Mr Pattison believes that every student at Dublin Oak Academy needs to touch type: ‘It is the professionalism of touch typing that is so important,’ he said. ‘You don’t expect to see a manager or project leader in the workplace tapping away using just their two forefingers. In this day and age, it just looks prehistoric!’  

Managing director Keene Braganza agrees; ‘Our software is popular in the workplace and for apprenticeships. These days, everyone – from doctors to solicitors to university students – needs to use technology to produce text and an increasing number of students use computers in examinations so it makes sense to train them to use the keyboard more efficiently.’

Touch typing makes a massive difference to speed and accuracy and reduces the risk of repetitive stress injuries (RSI). Research by Pitman Training shows that people who type with two fingers manage between 27 and 37 words a minute, while someone trained to touch type can reach between 50 and 70 words a minute.   

So, sign up, have a go and help your students take the first steps towards world class typing speeds!

For more information contact Keene Braganza at KAZ Type Limited : keene@kaz-type.com 01926 423424 https://kaz-type.com/  

Get ready, get set, goooooooo!

KAZ Worldwide Touch Typing Tournament

The KAZ Worldwide Touch typing Tournament 2020

KAZ touch typing software was designed for minimal teacher intervention. Being online, students can access the course from both school and home, allowing learning to continue beyond the classroom.

The KAZ admin panel has now been further developed. It is simpler to use, fully comprehensive, yet easy to navigate.  Class lists can be uploaded in seconds and that includes emailing all students with logon details! Additionally, teachers have the ability to monitor all student progress from the comfort of their PC.

Our new worldwide typing tournament was developed through requests from Head and IT teachers and designed to encourage the natural competitive spirit within students and to incentivise them to learn the skill quickly. With prizes for the winning student and school, there really is nothing to lose. The only thing we ask is that schools either have a current licence or take out a KAZ licence, in order to compete!

Furthermore, teachers can now also hold their own school competition, as all data from the testing will be available in their admin panel. Students will be ranked in highest scoring order.

(Please note: teachers will only have access to their own student data.)

Only KAZ administrators will have access to the cumulative student data and the results of the top students will be published on our site, at the end of each month. Naturally we will display a pseudonym for the student but will display the school name.

Teachers, it really couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is click the ‘Typing Tournament’ tab in your admin panel and all students already uploaded will automatically be entered. Students simply log on via the ‘cup’ on the header bar of our website or follow this link : Typing Tournament 

There is no limit to the number of attempts, however only the highest score will be registered in the School admin panel and KAZ Super admin panel. At the end of June, the student with the top score will receive the winner’s certificate and a free City & Guilds Licence and their school will be awarded the winners trophy, free annual renewal of their KAZ licence and lots of publicity!

The advantages of learning typing skills are really too numerous to mention but in life and work the skill is invaluable. Reports, essays and emails all typed in as little as 30% of the time taken as opposed to the conventional ‘hunt and peck’ method. 

Teachers, give your students a head start – Teach them to type – Make it fun – Enter the tournament!

Open University comments made in support of KAZ

Open University in support of KAZ

KAZ – Review by Prof. Marc Eisenstadt (Chief Scientist)

I first came across KAZ about 7 years ago, when I was investigating “teach- yourself-touch-typing” packages. I grew up in the USA, where we were obliged to learn touch-typing in high school (before personal computers, but in order to get us ready for university courses which could REQUIRE their students to submit typewritten assignments!!). This background led to my continual astonishment and disappointment at the remarkably poor level of keyboard skills in the UK: in fact I had become convinced that this was actually holding back progress in the UK on numerous fronts. I was aware that all my Silicon Valley colleagues could touch type, and that NONE of my UK colleagues could do this.

Moreover, I had observed students on Open University courses, and to my amazement I found that when it came to some difficult computer programming exercises in a Social Science course we had developed (aimed at computer- phobes!), OU students with a secretarial background progressed much better than those with technical/scientific/programming backgrounds! The reason was that those in the latter group were wasting phenomenal amounts of time hunting and pecking at their keyboards.

Then I became a School Governor at a local primary school in Milton Keynes, and observed precisely the same phenomenon. Teachers were spending hours explaining ‘how to use Word’ or ‘how to use Excel’, while the poor kids searched around the keyboard for the right keys. It was apparent to me that the essence of Word and Excel would be trivial for these kids (and certainly not worth weeks of boring lessons) if they could only master the keyboard.

So, with those two user groups in mind (50-year-old Open University students and 10-year-old primary school kids) I began to scour the globe for a decent touch typing package. I have a strong background in both Cognitive Psychology and Computer Science, so consider myself a pretty tough customer to please: a winning package has to have a nice user interface, be well thought

out, be pedagogically sound, be well implemented, and deliver demonstrable results in a short space of time.
Nothing fit the bill (I evaluated about 20 packages, with different users, and with myself, including all the big famous ones), and I was about to give up and start writing my own package when my searching eventually led me to KAZ.

I got hold of a copy, and found that it matched *ALL* of my very tough criteria. The kids I was working with generally didn’t want ‘games’, ‘tricks’, or ‘cute digressions’. They just wanted to ‘learn the keys, please’, and they wanted to do it quickly. It turns out that this was equally true of the 50-year- olds.
I then deployed KAZ with some groups I was working with, and lobbied hard to get KAZ as *MANDATORY* on the school curriculum, as well as embedded in Open University courses. I argued that the productivity gain, over one’s lifetime, would be so phenomenal that this would pay off handsomely. My local school started deploying KAZ, with great results (I challenge any teacher to walk around two groups of 10-year-olds, one of which can touch type and one of which cannot, and note the difference: the former is busy building web sites and writing web-newspaper articles and blogs, while the second is hunting around the keyboard in frustration to get to the next step in some chore). The Open University now also makes KAZ available to all of its students, and the testimonials that come in are a sight to behold… for many it is simply a liberating experience: now they can focus on the real task at hand instead of all that other stuff that cause such ‘cognitive overload’.
The other key thing about KAZ is that, aside from looking nice and being very direct and simple, it is built on very sound psychological principles: it uses a great ‘mnemonic trick’ that leverages people’s superior mental ability when it comes to memorising big chunks of text (in this case grouping parts of the alphabet into memorable phrases). This works dramatically well!
So, that about sums it up: a package that is educational sound, psychologically strong, computationally excellent, works with kids and adults, and will single- handedly have a greater impact on UK productivity than almost any other teaching software I can think of!

* Prof. Marc Eisenstadt (Chief Scientist)
* Knowledge Media Institute [http://kmi.open.ac.uk/] * The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
* +44 (0)1908 65 3149