Touch typing with KAZ-Type
Are you looking for a touch-typing program but fed up of BBC dance mat? Give Kaz-type a try and see if your students can learn to touch type the letters in 90 minutes. Approved by the British Dyslexia Association and assured by City and Guilds this is something a little different.
My experience of touch typing…
I learned touch typing at school, it was a Monday afternoon option block and I was carted off to the local college to learn on manual typewriters that swallowed your fingers and would definitely have eaten modern nail extensions. I often came home with shredded fingers but as the alternatives were golf or aerobics I decided touch-typing would be more useful! As a 13, 14 year old with relatively small hands I never really got to grips with home keys and just moving my fingers…unfortunately I had to move my wrist and hand at the same time…a habit that was hard to break when we were eventually let loose on the electric typewriters after 12 months. I still use a combination of touch typing and my mish-mash method now, which works OK for me. I have the motor memory that tells my fingers to go in certain direction (a bit of a pain when I consistently then spell a word incorrectly) but I also have the benefit of being able to check and correct what I am typing as I go, using my visual memory skills to read a sentence, memorise what I want to type and then support my typing by glancing at the keys. I can’t tell you how much I love the skill correct features on modern devices with auto-capitalisation for sentences and putting a full stop in for me automatically if I type two spaces…maybe I’m just lazy.
As an adult I have tried to relearn touch-typing, let’s just say I’m still using my old methods. You would have thought someone who can play The Queen of Sheba, Hungaridan Rhapsody and Flight of the Bumblebee without the music using muscle memory and auditory support would be able to achieve something so straightforward…anyway I digress, as usual…
So what about the program?
Kaz-type gave me access to their adult and child versions and I reviewed their child’s version over on the SENsible SENCO channel.
- First I get to choose my keyboard layout. I’m so used to clicking the UK flag that I actually forgot that with my recent purchase of a Mac I’m actually using a US keyboard…fortunately it doesn’t matter for the organisation of the letters. The QWERTY layout is the same it is just the location of symbols and punctuation that changes.
- You then have three options – Kaz with sounds, without sounds and with an audio description. I opted for with sound.
- The next screen reminds me where I was within the program. It includes a flying start guide about how to use the program, how to sit etc.
- By clicking on the A-Z option (the basics) I’m presented with 5 sentences and a relevant image. Kaz-type have asked that I don’t show all of these but ‘if mike jived’ is the first one. This is a change from usual touch-typing programs which have us using asdf and jkl; and then random strings which don’t always make sense and certainly are not combinations we would normally type (well, unless you have that really common sentence that includes a;a;a;slslsldkdkdkfjfjfj)
- It displays a keyboard on the screen along with what I need to type. Kaz (a cute pink bird) sits in the bottom right corner and I do have to move my hand from the keyboard to the mouse to switch from screen to screen. I have to admit I found this confusing at first. For the first part of typing it moves me through the screens as I get it correct, it then asks me to type a string of letters and I filled the whole page before realising I needed to ‘click’ one of Kaz’s wings to move on.
- If you turn the sound off the instructions are presented in a box on the screen.
- I’m using my computers internal speakers whereas I would imagine most users will use headphones and I do find the voices a little hollow and echoing but they are clear and understandable. It switches between the male and the female voices speaking and I’m sure there is some logic as to who speaks when…
- The first module ends with the character doing a little dance before switching to the menu screen for the next phrase and playing a catchy little tune.
Unlike BBCDance mat, which is free, Kaz-type does have costs associated, however you are paying for a product which is approved and works.
An online licence for individual home is £24.95
A school licence for 5 users is £90 with discounts for additional licences
Or you can even complete a City and Guilds accredited typing course starting at £75 a user, which might be useful for some of your secondary aged pupils.
If you are interested please use the link below to go to Kaz’s website.
I do get a small kickback for you arriving on their site from my webpage.