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ED-u-rateEducators Review Bernie's Typing Travels

Bernie's Typing Travels, from Thompson Learning, is keyboarding software for the elementary grades. Recently, Education World reviewers checked out Bernie's Typing Travels in actual classroom situations, rated the software on a scale of 1-4, and shared their thoughts about the program's strengths and weaknesses. This is what they had to say! Included: Comments about how the software functioned in actual classroom situations.

This review reflects the observations and experiences of independent teacher volunteers, and is provided as a service to Education World readers. The review in no way constitutes an endorsement of the product or its manufacturer by those teachers or by Education World.

Bernie's Typing Travels by Thompson Learning, is keyboarding software for the elementary grades.

Recently, Education World asked our reviewers, all teachers or educational technology specialists, to check out Bernie's Typing Travels in actual classroom situations. Reviewers were asked to use the software with their students for a period of at least one month, note specific strengths, weaknesses, and/or quirks of the program, record personal observations -- both positive and negative -- and rate various qualities of the software on a scale of 1-4.

The results are in -- and this is what our reviewers had to say!

Click here to see educators' reviews of other products including Kidspiration, Timeliner, Graph Master, Adobe Photoshop, NetSupport School, NetOpSchool, and more!
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OVERALL COMMENTS

This software is fun to use and more kid friendly than other software.

This is a good typing program for elementary students. The students caught on quickly with very little instruction from me.

This is a cute and fun way to teach keyboarding to students in the primary grades.

INSTALLATION COMMENTS

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Never had a problem, it was very easy to use.

The computers in my lab are older models, so installing the program took longer than I expected.

The program was easy to load and start using. I could see that there might be problems, however, if a lab has older machines.

We installed this program on all our third grade computers and on computers in three teachers' rooms -- on two different kinds of machines with two different operating systems -- but we could not get it to work correctly.

I was impressed by how easy it was.

It was ready to go in just a few seconds.

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USABILITY COMMENTS

I did not need the booklet. I used the on-screen help once and that worked just fine for me.

If you go right into drills, students don't have the chance to learn the keys first.

When students begin the typing process, the program asks if they want to take a pre-test. Most students clicked "yes" and proceeded to take a typing test that was geared above their grade level. I had to tell them to click "no" to begin the lessons.

I liked that there was no timing of the learning drills. The emphasis was on learning the keys.

I didn't like the mouse telling me everything, but I did like that the finger and the key placement were highlighted.

Happily, the backspace key is not allowed! When learning the keys, students are prompted when they make an error. They cannot go on unless they learn it correctly.

In the drills, students can have their hands on the wrong keys the entire time, but they are not prompted until the end of the drill. Then, the only feedback is that they have too many errors and must redo the drill.

I do not necessarily not like that there is no feedback, but I could see a kid getting frustrated.

I couldn't figure out how to get out of a practice drill.

From a business teacher and instructional technology point of view, I liked the way the lessons were presented. However, I have concerns about the software in a lab environment: The program requires speakers and that could be disruptive; it also needs significant memory resources, and some labs are not that well equipped.

The keys are presented in a nice format, the image shows fingering and reinforces that with sound.

I didn't like that the lessons had to be done in order. I'd prefer to be able to assign different lessons, depending on students' level.

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PERFORMANCE COMMENTS

For me, the program worked without a hitch. One issue is that, when you are in a drill, you can't get out until you've mastered it. That could be problematic if a student goes to the wrong icon and gets stuck there.

We could not get the program to run correctly.

The games that are used as rewards are very slow to load, as is the intro explanation.

It runs a little slow.

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USEFULNESS COMMENTS

The inclusion of the video segments is a terrific idea. I would liked to have seen more play on the travel/time theme in the practice drills. I enjoyed the ones that were there, but this is a perfect place for across-the-discipline integration with the program. For example, the software might have included the era of a specific invention, the history of that invention, societal changes that came about because of that invention, and so on.

This program kept my third and forth grade students very busy during their lab time. I did have to remind them about proper finger positioning during the typing process. Many students were trying to type with one finger until I corrected them.

The movies reviewing posture, placement, and so on were a bit corny, but I liked them. They contained good background and tips that sometimes are lost.

The spelling section was fun, but I would have liked students to hear the word said aloud. If a child cannot spell or process the letters properly, it would be helpful to have the word spoken.

Perhaps some multicultural topics could be woven into the practice drills. I loved the current topics, but a mixture of different themes would be more interesting for students.

The mouse theme is a bit juvenile for fourth graders. It's OK for younger students, but the program is too difficult for students below second grade.

I liked the word processor and spelling practice components.

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SUPPORT COMMENTS

I didn't need to access tech support. The one problem I encountered was easily answered with on-screen help. This was a very intuitive program for me to use.

I didn't read the instructions first. When I had a question, I went to the "?" and found the answer. That worked for me.

When we had a problem getting the program to work correctly, we contacted tech support. It took more than a week for them to respond, and even that didn't happen until I called. -- after submitting a trouble report to their e-mail address. Even so, I never spoke with a human being; it was always via e-mail, communicating the same information over and over again.

Help is readily available and easy to find.

The "?" button was very useful.

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Copyright © 2004 Education World

05/26/2004