Type to Learn 4: Agents of Information

Article excerpt

Company: Sunburst Technology, 1550 Executive Drive, Elgin, IL 60123. Phone: (800) 312-7511. Internet: www.sunburst.com.

Price: $79.95--single user, CD-ROM version. $89.95--single user, web subscription. $199.95--five-user lab set. Site license pricing is based on the size of the student population and program type (web version, school-based network installation, single edition). A free 30-day trial version is available online.

Audience: K-12 students.

Format: CD-ROM, network, and online editions

Minimum System Requirements: For Windows systems: Pentium 3 processor, 1GHz, 512MB RAM, Windows 2000 SP4, and U.S. English keyboard.

For Macintosh systems: Power PC G4, 800MHz, 512MB RAM, OS X 10.3.9 and U.S. English keyboard. For both systems: A CD-ROM or DVD drive is needed for disc-based installation.

Description: Type to Learn 4: Agents of Information is a program designed to teach keyboarding, beginning at an early age. The program follows the teaching model of demonstration, practice, and assessment with a wide range of lessons and activities to meet the needs and abilities of K-12 students at a variety of skill levels.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: Type to Learn 4 installed easily from two CD-ROMs. Installation instructions are included in the guide that accompanies the discs. A network installation should be handled by a network administrator with the appropriate access.

Once the program is installed, teachers can easily set up a class list and assign usernames and passwords to each student. Installation Rating:A

Content/Features: Type to Learn 4: Agents of Information is a comprehensive instructional keyboarding program that covers skills ranging from beginning to advanced. The program is compliant with learning standards in all 50 states and the International Society for Technology in Education's NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) program.

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Students are assigned a username and password. When working with the program for the first time, students are given a pretest designed to start them off with work at the appropriate level.

Initially, an on-screen agent tells students that the world of information is at risk and they must work to save it by learning to type. Students select the Begin prompt to start working with the program's exercises. After completing a first lesson, students are able to choose among an array of activities appearing on the screen.

The lessons are designed to reinforce the goals of sitting up straight, keeping the hands curved and relaxed, and working from the "home" key positions. Program directions can be read aloud for students; sounds occur to signal errors.

Each lesson begins with home row reinforcement, warm up, and review. The lessons are scaffolded to build skills and speed. Words and letter clusters have been matched with student reading capabilities. Teachers can add subject material content for student typing; this content can be evaluated for speed and accuracy.

At the end of each activity, the student's accuracy rate and typing speed appears on the screen. These scores are recorded by date in reports for teachers and parents. Five activities are offered (Big Ideas, Dig This, Drone Control, Message Master, and Reconnect); each activity is designed to motivate the practice of newly learned skills. …