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Finland drops Cursive for Keyboarding

December 1st, 2014

Starting in 2016 in Finland, cursive handwriting will no longer be a "compulsory" part of the education curriculum.  The focus instead will be Keyboarding.  You can read the full article at http://www.i-programmer.info/news/150-training-a-education/8005-finland-dumps-handwriting-in-favor-of-typing.html



Keyboarding Skills = New Laptop

September 6th, 2013


Students Learn Keyboarding Skills, Build Foundation for Success


Farnsworth




Situation

Students who type 15 words per minute (WPM) will take about
67 minutes to type a 1,000-word paper – not including the time required
to research, write and edit. However, students who type 50 WPM can type
the same paper in just 20 minutes.


Typing skills are fundamental to success in school and the workplace.
For students, having the ability to type fast and accurately is not
only more efficient, but it helps cultivate reading and writing skills
and think faster. When students can type efficiently, they’re allowed to
get their ideas down on paper at the speed of thought.


Farnsworth Aerospace Pre K-8, a Science, Technology, Engineering and
Math (STEM) school in St. Paul’s Payne Phalen neighborhood, saw the
impact the lack of formal keyboarding training had on their students. 
40 percent of the students at Farnsworth Aerospace don’t have access to
computers at home – making it difficult for them to hone their typing
skills and learn how to use basic programs such as Microsoft Word and
Excel. The lack of typing skills causes frustration for many students
because of the extra time required to complete schoolwork.




Solution

In 2011, Gregg Adler, a business and agriculture teacher at
Farnsworth Aerospace, developed an elective class to teach students
keyboarding skills and introduce them to the Microsoft Office suite –
Word, Excel and PowerPoint.


Students use an online program called Keyboard Mastery; the software
tracks the amount of time on task typing in the curriculum’s 33 lessons.
Gregg’s goal is for every student to complete the first 11 keyboarding
fundamentals lessons at 35 WPM.


During the program’s first trimester students did a pretty good job,
but Gregg wanted to see them work harder and complete more lessons. In
order to encourage students to push themselves, Gregg created an
incentive program. He reached out to Minnesota Computers for Schools
(MCFS) and told them about his idea: to incentivize students to work
hard and complete more lessons with an opportunity to earn a laptop by
completing the entire keyboarding course at 35 WPM or faster or win a
laptop in a drawing with the number of chances based on time on task.


MCFS donated 10 laptops to Gregg’s keyboarding class and at the end
of the school year they were given to students who worked hard on the
lessons. For every hour spent on-task a student gets one entry for a
chance to win a laptop. Every student who completes the first 11 lessons
gets another entry. Students who complete all lessons at 35 WPM or
faster are awarded a laptop.


“The number of individuals retiring from STEM-related careers is
surpassing the number of students studying and preparing for a career in
STEM fields,” said Tamara Gillard, executive director, Minnesota
Computers for Schools. “Gregg Adler’s program at Farnsworth is igniting
students’ interest in these important subjects and we’re excited to be a
partner in preparing the students for success.”




Result

At the end of the school year, 20 students earned a free
laptop. Before the laptop incentive program was introduced to the class,
on average, students were completing 6.45 lessons at 35 WPM. After the
incentive program began, the average number of lessons completed
increased 49 percent to an average of 9.62 lessons.


The students who completed all 33 lessons are now typing at an
average speed of 56 WPM, compared to 24.8 WPM, the average typing speed
for all students enrolled.


“The program is a win-win. Students who complete the course learn a
valuable skill that will allow them to be more successful in school and
will help them be employable in the workforce,” said Adler. “The key to
success in keyboarding is time on task. Students who invest the time and
effort are rewarded with a lifetime skill. The ability to be hired and
earning a paycheck is much more important than earning or winning a free
laptop.”

http://mncfs.org/stories/farnsworth-middle-school




Keyboarding Online will be HTML5!

March 12th, 2013

Why?


With recent advances in browser technology and the introduction of HTML5, many things are now possible on modern browsers. Just a few years ago, all videos had to be Flash, applications were either Flash or Java, and Javascript was seen only as a browser language that did only simple validation functions. HTML5 has changed all this and added hundreds of amazing features which remove the need for these third-party plugins.


We have been watching these advancements more recently with increased interest due to some of the issues Java has been having. Finally, this past December, we pulled the trigger to start development on an HTML5 version of Keyboarding Online! We have been working steadily at rewriting and redesigning the entire program so that it will be in your browser and not require Flash, Java, or any other plugin. It will provide the same functionality, the same feel, and the same features you are already used to, but without the problems associated with third-party plugins.


When? When? When?


We have been traveling a ton these past couple months to several conventions across the US, and we get this question all the time. We are on schedule to have a demo version of our programs released in May, and a “beta” version of the programs are planned for release in August. The demo version will be very simple, showcasing just the feel of the program, but will not actually handle data or transactions to the server. Beta means that it will be working, but there could be bugs that may affect how the program runs. These versions are a testing phase for us to make sure that the program and our servers are ready to withstand the 40,000
daily users we plan on serving. Once these release deadlines near, expect another newsletter with links to get
started using the program.


Video Contest deadline is April 30th!


Just like last year, we are running another video contest to see what awesome videos schools, classes, and students can come up with. Just like last year, we are offering several prizes to the top 3 videos. The official link is here: http://www.keyboardingonline.com/contest.php with all the contest rules and prizes. To view last year’s submissions and winners, check out http://www.keyboardingonline.com/contest_results.php and see what they came up with. Good luck to everyone and we can’t wait to see what you come up with!



The Importance of Keyboarding - Updated February 2013

February 12th, 2013

The 'Importance of Keyboarding' will discuss, among other things: 1) the importance of keyboarding in the digital age, 2) will keyboarding become obsolete, 3) when should keyboarding be taught, 4) how keyboarding helps to meet common core standards, and 5) how to motivate students.

The 'Importance of Keyboarding' presentation can be downloaded as a PowerPoint 2010 file or in PDF format.

PowerPoint file:
http://www.keyboardingonline.com/Articles/ImportanceOfKeyboarding.pptx

PDF:
http://www.keyboardingonline.com/Articles/ImportanceOfKeyboarding.pdf



Firefox and Java

January 21st, 2013

The latest versions of Java have been plagued with serious security issues.  Many internet security news sites and even the U.S. government recommended disabling or even uninstalling Java to keep you safe and secure.  Firefox saw these threats and decided to automatically disable the Java plugin no matter what and only run the plugin when the user requests it.  This dramatic change has caused Keyboarding Online programs to not load and has caused quite a headache here at the office answering phone calls, emails, and support tickets.


Before we dive into the solution, let me explain a little about the problem.  These security exploits are incredibly dangerous, BUT only if you are visiting sites with threats on them.  One analogy that fits this perfectly is food poisoning at a restaurant.  Food poisoning (salmonella or e.coli) is very dangerous, but also very avoidable.  If we wash our hands and food properly, the chances of infection is remote.  If we start visiting restaurants, we increase the risk.  The dirtier and cheaper the restaurant, the higher the possibility of infection.  If we visit a dirty restaurant and consume undercooked food prepared by a minimum wage employee who doesn't wash his hands, the chances of infection are very high.


This is the same scenario for the plugin.  You are safe having outdated, insecure plugins if you never visit the internet or are very limited in what you do.  The more you surf the internet and the worse the sites are, the higher the chance of some hacker who has a malicious program that invades your computer.  If you stick to bigger sites, trusted sites, and recommended sites, there is almost no way a hacker could install the malicious software on those servers to infect your computer.


So are you safe using an old version of Java?  Yes... but only if you heavily monitor your internet habits and avoid sites and searches that have the potential to throw viruses onto your computer. 


Now for the fix.  To fix it, simply visit our program.  When the program doesn't open, look for the red "Lego" piece on the URL bar.  Click that red icon, and click "Activate" next to the disabled Java Plugin.  The program will launch automatically from there.  We have created a video demonstrating this and posted it here http://youtu.be/LRHHDrnCMNI
For other tutorials or troubleshooting videos, visit our video tutorials page.



Newsletter - January 14th

January 16th, 2013

Keyboarding Online News and Updates


Annual Video Contest Announcement!


We are starting the annual video contest again.  Last year’s contest was a huge success, with over a dozen entries from different schools.  We
saw how much effort several schools put in and really enjoyed seeing
students and classes talk about keyboarding and Keyboarding Online. 


This year we are repeating the contest.  We are now open for video submissions until April 30th.  Winners will be announced the first week in May.  We are looking for short videos explaining or dramatizing aspects of keyboarding and/or Keyboarding Online.  They can be instructional, advertisements, humorous, or even action-packed.  For the full list of requirements, please visit http://www.keyboardingonline.com/contest.php.   For any additional questions, please contact us.  Completed videos can be submitted on our website at http://www.keyboardingonline.com/contestsubmission.php.


The big question regarding this is of course, prizes.  We
are offering the first place school $300 off their next purchase, and
the student/class who produced it will receive a $50 gift card.  Second and third places will also receive prizes.  Last years’ winners can be seen at http://www.keyboardingonline.com/contest_results.php.  Good luck with the contest, and we look forward to seeing those videos.


Teacher Manager Messaging


Inside the Teacher Manager, you can now send messages in the reports window.  Previously, you had to specifically visit the Message Center and select the class and student to message.  We
simplified this by adding a button in all individual and class reports
that enables you to send the message directly to the student or class
you are viewing.   We hope this makes messaging a little easier for you and your class.


Ten Key Mastery Font Adjustments


A newly released feature to the Ten Key Mastery program is the adjustable font and input scheme.  You can now use the slider to increase or decrease font size to accommodate those who need a larger font size.  We also had a few reports of the “white on blue” text causing eye strain.  To
remedy this, we added a drop down menu where the students can select
which color they would like to use to make it easier on their eyes.


Java 7 Update 11 Released


Java has been in the news lately because of a security vulnerability in Update 10.  Many browsers automatically disabled it, which caused our program not to function properly.  Users
are able to go in and manually allow the Java Plugin to run on our site
or all sites and Keyboarding Online programs will function perfectly.  While re-enabling Java works, we do recommend upgrading Java to Update 11 which was released today (1/14).  This update patches those security risks and should automatically re-enable Java in your web browser.


Updates for Mac Operating Systems


We improved the program to improve the user experience on Mac operating systems.  The changes cause buttons and links within the program to look crisper and more dynamic.  We are sure the Mac users out there will enjoy the cleaner look these updates offer!


Expanded Lesson View


In
response to the suggestions from some of our users we have facilitated
scrolling for longer timings with the ‘Expanded Lesson View’.  Just
above the ‘How to Scroll’ icon to the right of the text box there is an
icon with four arrows that expands the text box when clicked.  In most cases using this feature completely eliminates the need to scroll during a timing.  We know some of you will be rather excited about this new feature!


 


Thank you for using Keyboarding Online and for your suggestions that have made many of these program upgrades possible.  We appreciate your feedback and thank you for using the #1 keyboarding program in America!



News, Updates, & Bug fixes - 10/18/12

October 18th, 2012

News:

This Fall was a record breaker for Keyboarding Online. We broke new records for daily usage by students...over 34,000 unique students logging in and working in a single day. THANK YOU!

Updates:

1) Student Effort now is calculated even when a student resets a timing, or a timing is reset by the timer timeout (this feature was requested quite often by teachers). Students still have to meet certain score and accuracy minimums for the effort to be deemed valid.

2) Timing feedback improved. Whenever a score does not meet the 'Errors Allowed' or 'Minimum WPM' the score does not save. Sometimes students would miss the reason a score is not saved. When a timing finishes, if standards are not met (eg. too many errors), the reason will highlight and the score or errors will also highlight. This will help students understand why a score was not saved.

3) Keyboarding For Kids: New animated rhino graphic has been added to the program. The monkey animation has been refined and improved.

4) User Manuals, Video Tutorials, and a new 'How To' section have all been updated with the new Teacher Manager features and appearance.

5) Lesson Skipping: Although this feature was released during the Summer, many users may not be aware of this capability. You can disable lesson skipping to keep students from jumping ahead into different lessons than what they should be working on.

Fixes:

Coinciding with the release of the student effort calculation update, we found a terrible database bug that prevented scores from saving for about 5 hours this evening (10-18-12). Though usage drops quite dramatically after the school day ends, there may be some home users that experienced this bug. This bug was also corrected this evening and all is functioning normally. Please accept our apologies for any frustrations.



New Look and feel for Teacher Manager

July 27th, 2012

By now you may have noticed that the way Teacher Manager looks has
changed since the last time that you used it.  The icons and the layout
for Teacher Manager have changed, but they still bring you to the
screens you are used to using.  Instead of having a window with words on
the left hand side, we have added icons in color coded categories for
you to click on.
 
At the bottom of the window we have also
included some buttons in the orange Additional Help section that will
take you to the specified sections of our website when clicked, so you
wont have to navigate through the website to find the information that
you need. 

On the right hand side there will now be a section that
displays your school information including the total amount of licenses
your school has and how many of those licenses you are currently using. 
There is also a line that will show you when your licenses will be
expiring in order to help everyone plan out when they will need to get
information to renew their licenses.  We have also included a button to
manage the administrators that will be using the Teacher Manager.  There
is now a button for getting a renewal quote which will take you to the
section of the website where you can fill out the information you need
in order to find out pricing for the products you are ordering. 



GED To Become Harder... Test Takers Worry Over Lack of Keyboarding Skills

June 1st, 2012

Lack of Keyboarding Skills is "One of the biggest problems" GED test takers face as the exam will soon move to be completely computer based by 2014.

The GED is set to undergo major changes in hopes to help students become more "employment ready", especially when it comes to technology. Not only will the test be completed entirely on the computer, but it will also focus less on multiple-choice questions and more on short answers and essays. This poses a major problem for those who lack basic computer knowledge and keyboarding skills.

Full Article: http://posttrib.suntimes.com/news/12750021-418/pending-ged-changes-a-challenge-for-some-adults.html



Why Is Keyboarding important?

February 3rd, 2012

This is a copy of well attended presentation first given at Minnesota TIES in December 2012. Participants had requested a copy of this presentation. We have created a PDF of this presentation and it can be downloaded from:

www.KeyboardingOnline.com/Articles/KeyboardingOnline_Presentation.pdf

a PDF of the article referenced in the presentation can be downloaded at:

www.KeyboardingOnline.com/Articles/Keyboarding_And_Outsourcing.pdf



Video Contest Winner: Kyle Janssen

February 3rd, 2012

And the 2012 Keyboarding Online Video Contest winner is.........Kyle Janssen (and co-star Harry Nguyen) from Riverside Middle School!

We had a blast putting this contest together and even more fun watching your submissions. There was great participation from all over the country including Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota. We have decided to do this on an annual basis so if you missed out then make sure to check back next year for a chance to win gift cards and up to $300 credit for your school.

Click on the link below to see all of the submitted videos!

http://www.keyboardingonline.com/contest_results.php 



New GED Test 2014 Requires Keyboarding Skills

December 28th, 2011

In 2014, GED testing as we know it will cease.

The nonprofit General Educational Development testing program, known officially as GED Testing Services, has been purchased by Pearson Vue Testing, a for-profit  company.

As a result, the GED program, in the next two years, will undergo its biggest redesign in its 69-year history and become more challenging to pass, officials said.

The GED is a test for people who never finished high school. Passing the test will give them the equivalent of a high school diploma. The currentversion of the GED test in Alabama was revised slightly in 2002 to reflect career and college-ready content standards. That test became more demanding, especially in the area of math.

Scheduled for revamping in 2012, the test overhaul was delayed because of the purchase.

After January 2014, test-takers will no longer use pencil and paper. Everything will be completed on computer, including essay writing. There will be two separate scoring categories: high school curriculum knowledge and preparedness for entering college or a career.

“Ultimately,it will be harder to obtain a GED diploma once these changes go into effect,” said Donnie Sweeney, director of the Northwest-Shoals Community College Adult Education Program. “I don’t see that computer-based is better because some people today that take the test don’t have those typing skills.”

Sweeney said GED test-takers two years from now must have keyboarding skills. More knowledge in math will be required and other portions of the test will be more in depth to coincide with Alabama’s course of study.

John Vines, Alabama’s director for GED Testing, said the GED Testing Service in Washington, D.C., will continue under the American Council on Education and its name will remain the same.

“It’s probably time for the test to go to a computer-based system,” he said.

“The thought was that it might provide more testing opportunities. The plan for the various states is to continue using the existing testing centers as well as any additional centers provided by Pearson Vue.”


Source: http://www.timesdaily.com/stories/New-GED-test-coming-in-2014,185687



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