Common application questions...
What is the grade level of your products?
Because our programs are self-adjusting, they automatically
match any age, experience, or level of dexterity. Our original Typing Tutor was designed to improve executive productivity.
Our software is now being used by anyone who can read the screens. This includes people with disabilities, children
with special needs, Senior Citizens with a touch of arthritis, and executives with no time to waste.
With other computer programs that simply print canned lessons
on the screen, it's necessary to select the grade level very carefully. With our software and its computer-generated
lessons and drills, "grade level" is not an issue.
Why don't you show pictures of hands?
Hand pictures, magic fingers that follow your typing, and
other devices may seem to help initially, but this is a terrible idea. The last thing you want to do is connect
visual images with key positions. Picturing fingers while learning to type or enter numbers is as devastating as
counting on fingers while learning arithmetic facts. In both cases, visualization of each step in the process actually
interferes with mastery.
Our goal is to imprint muscle memory so that the fingers
instinctively reach and press each key accurately. The first step is to be able to key words or numbers by touch,
without looking at the keyboard or keypad. The next step is to begin typing without thinking of separate keys or
images at all. This is similar to the breakthrough that occurs when people begin reading words instead of seeing
separate letters. The hand-picture approach is simply not appropriate and actually interferes with developing this
level of mastery.
How does your keyboard program insure correct fingering?
We introduce each new key in several distinct steps. The
key is shown and practiced first in combination with its home key. With the hands in the correct position, correct
fingering is automatic. Naturally, typing will be much slower when first learning a new key. When dexterity returns
to the individual's normal level, we switch to using the new key in combination with the entire home set (A S D
F J K L E I ). When dexterity resumes, we move to the final step and continue practicing with words using all the
keys learned so far.
This focus on individual dexterity is central to our unique
computer-generated system. The program's shift from new key with the home key, then to new key with the home set,
and finally to words using the new key and all keys learned so far is based on careful measurements of the relative
dexterity level. This is not simply branching to a new lesson when a particular typing speed is reached, but creation
of a learning sequence that is unique for each person.
The keyboard diagram showing the new key and its home key
is shown only as long as necessary to introduce a key. As soon as the program verifies that the fingering is correct,
we remove this diagram from the screen and focus immediately on words that are selected to create the appropriate
Our exclusive Hands-ON! system also checks for and corrects common keyboarding errors, including hands that are not on
the home row keys.
Why don't you turn off the Backspace key?
We implement all features common to computer keyboards and keypads. It is essential that students
learn that it's possible to write or enter numbers and other data with total accuracy, editing if necessary. It
is obviously more efficient to avoid any keying errors in the first place, but we prefer giving students the option
to examine and correct their work.
The Ainsworth Keyboard Trainer
teaches the Backspace key from the beginning, encouraging people to use this key whenever complete accuracy is
necessary. The keyboard is fully functional in all lessons, drills, and tests.
The Ainsworth Keypad Trainer also
supports the Backspace key for corrections. In both our form-fill and our block text exercises, the standard editing
keys are fully functional. In the form-fill mode, the Tab key, Enter key, and the mouse are available for editing,
as they are with standard software or data entry systems.
Our instructional design for both products uses the Backspace
key for important information and essential clues that allow us to create appropriate lessons and drills. If the
Backspace key is used randomly, we simply report this information in our speed and accuracy scores. If the Backspace
key is used in a specific pattern, however, this indicates a problem with one or more keys. In this instance, we
use data gathered by watching the Backspace key to adjust the lessons or drills. This important feedback allows
us to create a response that eliminates the underlying difficulty automatically.
How many tests are included?
With the Ainsworth Keyboard Trainer
- Eight Word Processing Tests come
with the program. You can easily create unlimited custom tests by replacing these eight tests with your own word
processing documents. Just type your test in a word processor and add this file to our program's directory. The
first line in your test document will be removed by the program and automatically added to the program menu, and
will also appear on the student printout of test results.
- The Basic Skills Tests in each
of the four lesson categories are created by the computer and never repeat. Any test may be selected by length
or used as a timed writing. All tests follow word processor conventions, including word wrap, correct paragraphing,
backspace, and scrolling.
With the Ainsworth Keypad Trainer
- Five Keypad Tests come with the
program. These tests are generated from internal program data each time a test is taken. There is no limit to the
number of different varieties that are available.
- The Data Entry Tests are timed
writings, with timings of 1, 2, 3, 5, or 10 minutes, and are available in two formats. In the form-fill mode, full
editing is available. Either the Tab or the Enter key may be used to change fields. In the block text mode, this
same data is presented with word processor conventions.
- The Standard Test mixes both
keyboard and keypad information in a random sampling of test data. This test may be replaced with any data format
you desire. Information may be mixed randomly when the test loads, or it may be presented in exactly the same order
each time the test is taken.
How do you recommend translating performance data into
Frequently teachers tell us that we cause a "grading
problem" when they first use our programs. If they continue using the same criteria as before, our programs
cause the average class to improve by a full letter grade. We suggest keeping the criteria the same, giving higher
grades, and not penalizing the students for having more efficient teaching tools. If you are now using a standard
keypad test, you can substitute your test for the one in the program and continue using the same test materials
in our fully automated system.
Don't students need a workbook?
No printed material is required to use the programs because
we have designed our workbook into the program itself. Our Help system is automatic, displaying information whenever
a new situation is encountered. The student can always recall and display Help by pressing F1.
Students can view their progress at any time, or print a
one-page summary, with the Reports option on the main menu.
Do you have any recommendations for students interested
Absolutely. People used to think that someone had to excel
in mathematics in order to program computers. Writing good software today is much more dependent on an active imagination
and a desire to create new things. Having patience and a knack for fussing with technical stuff are a definite
plus. But writing skills are the key ingredient in creating good software programs. I encourage all writers to
simply write -- whether they are destined to become programmers, playwrights, or poets.
For students interested in learning more about computers
and writing software, the Ainsworth
Computer Seminar is a great place to
start. It's free and simple to download. This seminar is specifically designed to be interesting to those who are
just curious about computers. It is also a resource for people who want to learn about programming.
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