In a previous post, I shared five typing programs that could be used to teach blind and low vision students touch typing skills. One of those programs was Typio, a program created by Accessibyte.
If you are in the VI field and use social media, you may have seen sponsored ads for a new program called Typio Online. I know I did. And I’ll admit to being curious. How was this new product different from the Typio I used in my classroom? What new features did it have? Would it offer content that would make it less of a struggle to teach touch typing to my students?
Thankfully, I was given the chance to find out. Diane at Paths to Technology was contacted by Accessibyte and after one thing led to another, I was asked if I wanted to beta test and review Typio Online. I was super excited! I’d never gotten to beta test a program before. And it was both easy and fun.
Once you have purchased your licenses, you will need to go to www.accessibyte.com/online and create an account. At that time, the instructions on entering license information and student account data is quite simple.
It is worthy of note that you MUST use the Google Chrome browser for Accessibyte Online to work properly. This can be done on Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Android machines.
The Teacher License
There are three main areas available once you are licensed and logged in as a teacher.
Once you log on with your username and password, you have access to the “teacher dashboard”. In this area, you will see notifications on what lessons your students have completed and when they were done. If you have any licenses for other Accessibyte programs, you will see those here also.
In this area, you will see all of your students listed as well as their progress in any of the Accessibyte program licenses in each individual’s name. From here, you can do several things:
- Access what each student has been working on most recently
- Change a student’s password
- Add or remove a student user under your account
- If you click on the student’s name, you will be taken to a page specifically for that individual. “Overview” gives you a basic snapshot of what your student has been up to recently. “Typio” will give you specific information related to his/her typing progress with specific data as well as a graph. If you scroll down to the “history” heading, you can even specify dates for which you’d like to see data displayed.
In the final section of the teacher account, you can access Typio data directly. When entering this section, you can add custom lessons to your teacher account and “assign” them to specific students. With my test student, I created several custom lessons based on his interests (I replaced that data in the image for the sake of privacy).
The Student License
DivThe student side of Accessibyte Online brings all of the features of Typio that you’ve come to appreciate. This includes Progress, Practice, Explore and Free Type modes, plus a new Mini Review mode. It is much like the standard downloadable software, but just a few changes, such as use of the Google voices and the font size and style names.
As always, the student display is highly customizable from font size and color to the sound effects of the program. Since there are so many options, it’s nice that you can use “enter” or “shift+enter” to scroll forwards and backwards among them. This way, if you accidentally pass something you were looking for, it’s easy to move backwards among the options (this is particularly helpful when navigating through the color choices since there are so many).
Probably the most interesting and fun part of the student license is the Typing Pet. When selecting “Typing Pet” from the main menu, students are brought to the screen displaying the pet as well as several options for interacting with it.
Each student’s “Pet” has a name and the student can click various links to learn more about his/her pet from what he/she looks like to facts about him/her such as a name, motto, and physical description.
Students can train the pet by opting to take standard sized or mini-lessons. Each of these activities earns them coins, which they can spend to play with their pet or to feed it. The lessons follow where the student is in the “progress mode” area of their typing lessons. For example, if the student is on lesson 8 in the Progress Mode, the Typing Pet will also allow the student to interact with it using concepts introduced in lesson 8.
Playing With and Feeding the Typing Pet
As mentioned in the previous heading, the more you train your pet, the more coins you can earn. So what do you do with all of those coins? There are a couple of options.
Firstly, you can play games with your pet. Typio Idol presents music that you can make your pet “sing” to by typing on the keyboard. Secondly, you can play “Hot or Cold”, in which your pet picks a key on the keyboard and you need to figure out which it is based on the feedback given. Once you find one letter, your pet will give you another for you to find. This will continue until the time limit is reached.
Secondly, you can feed your pet. There are a variety of snacks that cost anywhere from 5 coins to more than 20 coins. Each time you feed your pet, he or she changes in some way...they may change color, their “motto” may change, or they may get a different body part such as angry eyes. Of course, the program lets you know that the change has been made.
Impressions and Feedback
Accessibyte Online has all of the features that you know and love about the Typio software. The fact that it is online makes being able to provide homework practice for your students much more practical.
The fact that Accessibyte Online can only be run in the Chrome browser limits the voice output of the program to the Google voices, so it is probably a good idea to warn your students that the voice will be different than what they are used to, especially if your student is sensitive to any sort of change.
I had previously been unable to access the teacher dashboard in the software version of Typio due to some network restrictions. For that reason, I had to keep a spreadsheet of student progress. This was very tedious and I felt like I was constantly entering data and having to juggle several students so I could write things down. So it was really great to be able to have access to all of the students’ records in one place
The addition of the Typing Pet as a motivator is a great idea and has been a help when working with my test student. He has enjoyed working with his Pet (I believe his name is Bertram) and trying different ways of using the coins he earns. He also requests specific “custom lessons” based on his interests, which I am more than happy to create for him. Of course, we do create some lessons that are more practical as well, but having one more thing to grab the student’s interest is helpful.
I am looking forward to trying this program with more students in the fall once I’ve been able to identify specific students who would benefit from it. I’d also like to try the other Accessibyte Online programs (Accessibyte Arcade and Quick Cards) once they become available.
To conclude, not only is Typio Online effective, it is also motivating for students to use. Add on the great support for teachers via the Teacher Dashboard, and you’ve got an excellent online program that is a great teaching tool.
Typio Online is coming out soon and can sign up to be notified when its released by visiting www.accessibyte.com/accessibyte-online