Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Mindscape SpongeBob Squarepants Typing
- It’s SpongeBob! What else needs to be said?
- Encompasses less material than other typing tutors
A fun little program at a great price
Price$ 19.95 (AUD)
Learning to touch type isn't necessarily top of every ten year old's list of fun things to do. In fact, we'd be surprised if it was even in any ten year old's list of things to do. Learning how to type correctly may not be as useful as learning a foreign language or perfecting your mathematics skills, but it's a practical ability to possess nonetheless.
The SpongeBob Squarepants Typing Tutor is the most fun we can ever imagine having whilst learning to type. Now, we appreciate that really isn't saying very much, as the alternatives are such zany characters as Mavis Beacon, but SpongeBob kept us occupied for hours; even though this may say more about us than the product.
The fun starts from the moment you install the program, which incidentally is incredibly easy. Up pops SpongeBob and friends to run through a wacky introduction. This little cartoon basically sets the premise for the whole program, that the inhabitants of Bikini Bottom are having a typing tournament and you need to help SpongeBob win.
The next step is to log in, as multiple people can each use the program. From here you can select your age group. Kids from 7-12 have a slightly different system with an adjusted learning curve, with everyone over the age of 12 using the same settings. Then it's off to start the tournament. This basically takes the form of a series of lessons interspersed with a few games to keep things interesting. The lessons cover all the basics of typing including proper posture, hand positioning and finger placement. As you progress through the various levels of the program the difficulty is increased, with more letters from the keyboard introduced and longer passages to type. If you perform atrociously on a particular lesson then you'll have to repeat it before you can move on. The emphasis is on learning to type accurately first then increasing speed later.
We found the lessons to be very engaging, with good use of bold graphics and bright colours. One of the best features is SpongeBob's constant commentary. Although what he says doesn't always make sense, such as offering commiseration when we'd scored 98% accuracy, it certainly livens up the program.
There is also a practice mode with a large number of texts offered, as well as the option to replay any of the games. These two options should extend the life of the product considerably. Our one complaint would be that it offers considerably fewer lessons than a fully featured program such as Mavis Beacon; but really, no child is going to want to sit through this many lessons anyway.
Overall we found SpongeBob Squarepants Typing to be an entertaining product that retains its functionality, all for an entirely reasonable price. In fact we'd much rather learn to type from this kind of program and it's a shame there's not a whole suite of SpongeBob products; word processing and spreadsheets could be so much more fun!
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