Learning to touch type with the Ultrakey Keyboarding Tutor. A review.
The ability to type quickly and accurately is a skill now vital to all children and adults alike. If you are still in the hunt-and-peck mode you cannot use your computer productively. Ultrakey, by Bytes of Learning, offers a solution here. They promise to teach you how to type properly, fast and accurately and they promise to do so in a fun and innovative manner. Read this review of Ultrakey Online to see if this is the typing software that will suit you best.
Ultrakey – The Concept
Ultrakey uses a teaching methodology that can best be described as success-based. You will start off with a skills assessment. This allows the software to make sensible recommendations regarding the goals you set for yourself. It does not matter what your level of skill is when you start. Ultrakey will methodically lead you from you current level of skill towards the achievement of your goals.
Ultrakey is highly personalized. This makes it suitable for users at all ages and in many different environments, such as home, school or even at work. It also boasts a reporting system. Below is an overview of the Online, Family, Desktop and School editions.
1. Ultrakey Online Personal
Ultrakey Online Personal is for use by a single person. It is the most affordable version in the Ultrakey stable and allows you to renew your subscription on a yearly basis. It boasts numerous advanced features that help students to master touch typing quickly and methodically. Here are the main features:
Personalized and Interactive. Not only does Ultrakey Online recommend suitable lessons and exercises based upon your performance during the initial skills assessment, but it also allows you to personalize the interface in many different ways.
Excellent use of Multimedia. People learn best when all the senses are involved. Ultrakey makes very effective use of graphics, animations, video, text and sound to teach, demonstrate and test. Unlike many other teaching programs, multimedia is used only to enhance the learning process.
Intelligent Interface. The intuitive interface is seen by many reviewers as one of the most outstanding features of the program. 12 Different interface themes make provision for different learning styles and even for students with disabilities such as visual impairments.
Structured Teaching Approach. Ultrakey Online employed modern instructional design techniques to make sure that students are not presented with new goals and challenges before they have mastered the present ones. Lessons and exercises are accompanied by videos that clearly explain the goals, and how to best achieve those goals.
In addition, students can repeat lessons and exercises as many times as they wish. Each exercise is concluded with constructive feedback and suggestions. There are more than 700 different exercises catering for different ages, learning preferences and levels of skill.
Comprehensive Reporting and Record Keeping. You will always have easy access to a dashboard where you can generate various reports on your progress. These reports can be printed or saved in PDF format. Many reports can be customized.
Customized Additional Exercises. You can create or even import additional content for practice purposes. This is an extremely handy feature for students that work or study in fields where specialized terminology is used routinely.
International Typing Performance. If your typing performance is vital to your job or for finding a suitable job then this feature is heaven sent. With Ultrakey Online you can generate reports that are based on the international standards for professional typing performance, a valuable addition to your CV.
Game Zone. This feature is aimed primarily at younger students and comprises six categories of games that aim to help them build their typing fluency and knowledge.
Ongoing Support. If you get stuck or if you have questions you can rely on round the clock support via the Bytes of Learning Facebook page, website or their interactive blog.
Compatible. Ultrakey Online is compatible with any computer or device with browsers that are on Windows, Mac, Chromebooks and iPad.
2. Ultrakey Online Family
The family version boasts all the features of Ultrakey Online Personal. There are some differences though.
Multiple User Accounts. You can purchase yearly subscriptions for three, five or eight users. You can also buy additional subscriptions at any time. This makes this version absolutely ideal for families and it is a firm favorite with those doing home-schooling. Many small businesses also prefer this cost effective version.
Free Administrator / Parent Subscription. This feature allows one person to register as an administrator. This person will have access to the records of all the other users, either individually or of all the users at the same time. It also allow the supervisor to generate useful reports on the progress of all the users.
Personalized User Accounts. As is the case with the Ultrakey Online Personal version, users have access to a dashboard where they can view their progress, generate reports and access lessons. In this version, each user can set up his or her own dashboard to reflect their own preferences and to make provision for their individual learning styles.This is a great feature when users differ wildly in age and skills levels.
Individualized Progress. Ultrakey Online Family allows each user to progress at his own pace. The format of the lessons and exercises are not uniform for all users but is rather based upon the settings selected on the dashboard of each individual user.
3. Ultrakey 6 Personal License
This desktop version is meant for those of you that do not have constant, reliable access to the internet. For many people in developed countries the very idea of slow or no internet access is a puzzling concept, but this is indeed the case in many parts of the world.
Cost is also a factor: in some countries the cost of data is very high and that makes long periods spent online very expensive.
Ultrakey 6 is also available as a family version and allows up to three installations of the software. This version is not licensed for schools or businesses.
The desktop version offers all the features of Ultrakey Online, but there are some differences:
Limited Support. Online users have access to support round the clock. This is not the case with the desktop version. Users are not totally left out in the cold, however. It is still possible to communicate with Bytes of Learning via email and they strive to answer queries as quickly as possible.
No Automatic Upgrades. Online users have the benefit of immediate and automatic upgrades to their versions of Ultrakey. Users of the desktop version do not enjoy this benefit unless they are able to go online and to physically download upgrades.
Limited Mobility. Each user account can be accessed from just one device or computer. Unless the device is portable, such as a laptop, access cannot be obtained from different locations.
4. Ultrakey Online School
This version is specially adapted for use by schools. There is the single school subscription that is meant for use by one particular school, but there is also the more cost-effective multi-school subscription that allows any number of schools to register together.
All the features of Ultrakey Online are available to school subscribers, but there are some differences between the personal and family versions and the school versions.
Pricing. The cost of the school versions will differ from one school to the next. The price is calculated according to the number of students that will become users and the number of years that the subscription is for. This allows schools to enjoy the benefits of Ultrakey within their available budgets.
Unlimited Number of Users. There is no limit to the number of students at any particular school that can be registered as users. However, the number of users ARE limited according to the pricing options exercised by the school when they subscribe. If the needs of the school change, the number of users can be upgraded by simply paying an additional fee.
Unlimited Classes and Teacher Accounts. Schools can register as many managers and classes as they wish, regardless of the number of users. This allows teachers to effectively manage the progress of those students in their own classes. It is even possible to register one overall manager that will have access to all the classes and user accounts. A single teacher responsible for multiple classes can also have multiple accounts, one for each class.
Powerful Management Tools. The school versions offer all the management tools available for online subscribers but they also offer a bigger variety of reports specifically designed for the unique needs of formal educational institutions. Many reports can even be customized.
5. Ultrakey Cloud Concept
Ultrakey Cloud is not a different version of the Ultrakey tutor. Instead, it is an optional record-keeping service for any installation that serves multiple stations.
This modestly priced service allows users, teachers, managers and parents to access their full records from different locations and different devices.
For example: A student may have an account at home because his family subscribes to the family version. He also has an account at school because his school is a subscriber. With the Ultrakey Cloud Concept this student will be able to have full access to all his records regardless of his location or the device he uses to log on.
This service is of particular value to subscribers that have many users at different locations.
Ultrakey Pros & Cons
- Pro: It really works. The vast majority of users and reviewers agree that Ultrakey does exactly what it promises.
- Pro: Suitable for everyone. The many ways in which the tutor can be individualized makes it ideal for a wide variety of target groups.
- Pro: Excellent design. It is based upon very advanced programming techniques but its intuitive interface makes it extremely easy to use.
- Con: User accounts not exchangeable. It is not possible to re-use a user account. If a student is transferred, for example, then that account cannot be assigned to a new student.
Ultrakey – Review Verdict
With their various Ultrakey versions Bytes of Learning has certainly created an effective touch typing program that can be used by just about everyone. They have thought of the unique needs of every possible subscriber and they have certainly delivered a product that addresses those unique needs. And all of this at a surprisingly modest price!
If you think that you will benefit from increased typing speed and accuracy, then Ultrakey should be top of your list. Highly recommended.
What is your experience with Ultrakey? Please share your review in the comments below.