We’ve been doing a lot of online studying, this week. One of our new favourites is TypingClub, an online program for learning touch-typing. It’s completely free to open a basic account, and it’s super easy to use. I set up a class for both my kids, and added myself as a third student for testing purposes. Having personally tested the full set of lessons, which covers the full keyboard including numbers and special characters, I have to say it’s pretty good.
You get your own portal URL for your class, which is something like [homeschool-name].typingclub.com, and your students use their personal login details to access the course. Once they’re in, the welcome interface displays their stats, a link to their earned badges, and a link to the typing course.
You can choose whether your students are allowed to skip ahead, or whether they must do all the lessons in the specified order. I think it’s worth doing lessons in a logical order, so kids can build on previous foundations. Of course, I learned to touch-type a very long time ago and it’s hard to remember exactly what it felt like before I had this skill. You may want to allow skipping, if your children already have some typing fluency.
The lessons include a typing guide (my son calls them “ghost hands”) to show where your fingers should land. You can turn off the keyboard guide, or the hands guide, or both – as you prefer. However, I think it’s a useful feature to leave enabled.
Mastering certain achievements earns merit badges – like Khan Academy and similar student programs. They’re virtual “stickers” for the avid collector. As this is touch-typing, predictably the achievements include such highlights as typing speed but there’s also duration, attempts, and accuracy. For the super keen, there’s even a Weekend Hero badge if your child does some typing practice at the weekend!
Free Versus Pro
Several features are only available on the paid Pro Edition. These include: typing tests, no adverts on the webpages, advanced reporting, and functional use of the EdClub iPad app. The Pro Edition also gives extended retention of student data; the Free Edition only stores detailed data for 30 days, although basic reporting remains available.
I’m not currently tempted to sign up for the Pro Edition; the cost is set to cover a minimum of 30 students, so I feel it’s probably overkill for my needs. It would be nice to have the advanced reporting, and it seems that the cute certificates of achievement are only for paying customers, but I think I’ll manage without it.
As a basic touch-typing instruction course, the Free Edition amply meets my needs. I can do basic tracking of my children’s work, they get immediate feedback on their efforts, and the merit badges/points earned are sufficient reward.
Touch-typing is a very useful skill in this computerised era; being able to touch-type allows me to write faster, and better utilise my time. My younger child has spent about half an hour of continuous typing on the first 10 lessons. I completed the full 100 lessons in about an hour, at an average speed of 60 wpm (which isn’t particularly fast for an adult). It was a mandatory subject, when I was a schoolchild, and – so long as they find it reasonably fun – it’s a lifeskill that I feel my kids ought to acquire. If you agree, I’d recommend giving TypingClub a go; you’ve got nothing to lose!
TypingClub School Edition is available as Free or Pro. At the time of writing, the Pro Edition cost from $96.60 USD for one year. A free trial of the Pro Edition is available for 60 days, and the Free Edition is permanently free.