The prestigious Teach Primary have recognised and shortlisted KAZ Typing Tutor. From all the many hundreds of submissions across all sectors, secondary, primary and early years ONLY 6 resources have been shortlisted. KAZ Typing Tutor is one.
Open University comments made in support of KAZ in 2006
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
English and maths are two core subjects considered a must for the school curriculum. They are thought to be essential components in preparing children for further education, the working environment and life but is there another essential component, a ‘life skill’ that children use on a daily basis, at school and at home, that is as essential in today’s modern IT based world?
Yes! Touch typing.
The fundamental skill of touch typing is often overlooked but is one skill that can:
Equip students with a ‘skill for life’
A skill they can take forward with them into further/higher education, the workplace and life.
Efficient touch typing leads to increased productivity, saving valuable study time during course work and precious limited time in exams.
With the aid of muscle memory’, spellings turn into a series of finger movements and patterns on the keyboard, dramatically reducing the likelihood of misspelling words.
Improve the quality of writing in general
When you type with two or a few fingers, you use your conscious mind but when you touch type with all your fingers and thumbs, the skill is transferred to the sub-conscious skill centre of the brain, leaving the conscious mind free to concentrate on creative writing and the task at hand.
Help with wellbeing
Correct touch typing technique can help encourage correct posture whilst setting at a computer and using all fingers and thumbs can help with even distribution of pressure load whilst typing – avoiding strain and aiding in preventing Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
Help neurodivergent students
Touch typing and using a computer can offer neurodivergent students an alternate method for learning and communicating.
Within education today, there is an increasing amount of coursework having to be summited in typed format and within the workplace, the use of a pen is virtually redundant. Teaching students to touch type seems the natural and positive way forward.
When should we teach students to touch type?
It is of general belief that the earlier a child begins, the easier it is for them to master a skill. With touch typing, the child’s hands and fingers need be big enough to reach the keys, generally around the age or six or seven. However, students can learn at any age, as a good typing software will retrain fingers and get rid of any bad habits which may have developed.
Which touch typing software to use?
Many learn –to- type software can be repetitive and boring. This can deter students from persevering or wanting to learn. Finding a software that is inclusive, structured but light-hearted and easy to use is paramount to success.
KAZ’s mainstream and neurodiverse typing software was developed with advice and guidance from the Dyslexia Research Trust and teaches typing skills whilst minimising visual disturbances by means of a unique preference screen, tailor making the course for maximum visibility comfort. It is suitable for mainstream students, as well as students with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, ASD, tourettes, amongst other.
The program uses a unique Accelerated Learning teaching method. Incorporating both ‘muscle memory’ and ‘brain balance’, it engages the major senses of sight, sound and touch simultaneously, radically enhancing memory retention and recall – which is why it is so effective.
KAZ’s multi-sensory unique teaching method, combined with its specialised preference screen, delivers a student tailored, simple but effective course. This is why it was shortlisted as a Bett Awards 2019 finalist.