A Skill for Life
Mainstream & Neurodiverse Typing Tutor
The three Rs are not enough!
“In today’s world of technology, the life skill of touch typing is a crucial 21st century skill”, says Alan Tsui, Academic Enrichment Programmed Leader at Willow Brook Primary School Academy in East London. He has taken his school from in Special Measures to one of the top performing schools in London, for the school year 2018/19, as recognised by the Mayor of London.
How did you hear about KAZ?
I first encountered KAZ-Type in 2014 when working at a very prestigious Independent Preparatory School based in Central London. The Head Teacher asked me to manage the school’s subscription as part of its computing curriculum. The children I was working with at the time were very enthused by it, especially being able to challenge each other with their typing speeds. Many were also partly motivated by the fact that I had set them a personal challenge to exceed my typing speed. At every school I have worked at since then, I have always managed to persuade my senior colleagues to allow me to subscribe to KAZ. Given the subscription rates, it is incredible value.
How important do you think the skill of touch typing is for students in today’s world?
Keyboard skills are an absolutely critical twenty-first century skill. I often tell the children I work with and fellow educators I meet that I was of the generation when computers first became a feature of the learning landscape in the early 1980s. My Dad was very sceptical at the time but nevertheless supported my decision to elect to study a subject called ‘Business Studies’ when I was at secondary school. ‘Business Studies’ then included learning how to touch-type on a manual typewriter. So at the age of 16, I was already able to achieve a speed of around 20 wpm. As computers have become ubiquitous in the world of work, having keyboard skills is a central, if not key element of digital literacy.
How have you implemented KAZ into your time table/learning?
Since 2014, for primary schools in England, the computing curriculum can be segmented into three main components – programming or coding, information technology and digital literacy. KAZ is very much part of the digital literacy scheme of works that I teach. The school I currently work for – Willow Brook Primary School Academy in East London, is an amazing school, where my senior colleagues have a ‘can-do and want to’ attitude. So when I asked to upgrade all the computer equipment at the school back in 2016, they agreed. So now we have one Internet connected laptop or netbook for every three children to share. This means that in every classroom for every lesson, when children have completed the tasks expected for that session, they can be practising KAZ. For the very youngest learners, this has had a very positive impact on their reading and writing skills, to the point that Willow Brook was recognised by the Mayor of London as being one of the top performing schools in London in school year 2018/19 (source:https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/education-and-youth/schools-success/schools-success-profiles/willow-brook-primary-201819). Beyond the school timetable, Willow Brook also offers a wide programme of after school clubs which are free to all families to take up. Using KAZ as part of the after school club offer meant that I was hosting or facilitating after school club meetings held on Friday afternoons, which were always so well attended and over-subscribed, we had to hold two groups.
What do you think of KAZ’s admin panel and recording of student progress?
The KAZ Administrator panel and student progress display is absolutely fantastic. The children I work with are always thrilled to see their scores displayed in a way that is easy to understand and rank their performances. Some children get a little bit anxious when they realise that their performance might not be improving as they would like – so the feature that maintains a display or record of their personal best encourages them to know that they are doing well.
KAZ offering both a mainstream and SEN/Dyslexia edition in their school license – has this helped?
I only saw the SEN/Dyslexia edition for the first time at BETT 2019 but am delighted with its release. The children I’ve offered access to the SEN/Dyslexia edition to have really enjoyed using it. The fact that it operates on the same platform means that lessons when everybody in a class or after-school club meeting is practising KAZ is very inclusive.
Is the fact that KAZ online can be used at school and at home a positive feature and why?
Every learner being able to access KAZ from any internet connected laptop or computer anywhere means that schools which have a subscription have a very efficient means of setting homework, which many parents actively support…to the point that some families have even asked if they can be given individual access to practice and perfect their keyboard skills!
What do you think of KAZ?
It is the best piece of on-line learning that I have ever seen and had the privilege of using since I started using the Internet in 1997.
KAZ’s Mainstream and Neurodiverse typing tutor was shortlisted as a Bett Finalist 2019.