South Kitsap School District (SKSD) in Washington State, USA has a goal to have keyboarding basics learned by grade 6 as part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. In Spring 2014, Derry Lyons, Director of IT Services for SKSD contacted Typing Master regarding the possibility of LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) in their pilot of Typing Master typing courses for the upcoming school year. The school district was familiar with Typing Master from its screening of online typing tools in the spring and was looking for the best fit to integrate the keyboarding courses into their existing school systems.
Typing Master understood that LDAP integration is an important part of seamlessly incorporating keyboarding courses into a school’s existing systems. When Lyons expressed interest and knowledge in LDAP integration, it was the perfect opportunity for Typing Master developers to fine tune and test the valuable feature. It was also an important factor for Lyons in provisioning a typing course for the 10,000 student school district as it would integrate seamlessly for students and not overly burden teachers and administrators.
Great communication between the parties was essential to efficient collaboration and done entirely via email. Timely, thorough and thoughtful email exchanges abounded despite the 10 hour time difference between the Washington State school district and Finland developers. Progress moved surely and even somewhat swiftly.
A simple login system that young students could handle was imperative, as well as a way to sort and manage groups. Their task force insisted that kids being able to use the same login and password they have already been assigned would be “the key”. ”Ironically, the tool is to improve keyboarding skills, so if they (the kids) have to fuss with cryptic logins and passwords, it kind of defeats the purpose,” says Lyons.
South Kitsap proved to be the perfect case for TypingMaster to refine and test LDAP. South Kitsap had implemented LDAP with other vendors before so they were familiar with the process and were willing to share information about how the process had worked most efficiently previously. They also represented a solid LDAP source to test against. Lyons and his technical team were invaluable because of their previous experience with LDAP implementation and great communication of the specific needs of the school district which minimized guesswork for developers.
Having worked with other vendors implementing LDAP in the past, they brought personal knowledge about how the process had worked most efficiently for them as well as which features they considered critical. The implementation seems to have been successful on all accounts and Lyons is a satisfied customer. He admits to be currently struggling with some other vendors to implement LDAP and so found working with Typing Master refreshing.
Improved Keyboarding Skills
As for the course itself, it seems to have been well received by both students and teachers. Teachers report clear improvement in student keyboarding skills with weekly lab time over the school year. Teacher Amy watched many of her students go from requiring a full hour to type out a five-paragraph essay to less than 30 minutes. Unsurprisingly, students who clocked in additional practice time at home “made leaps and bounds” according to Amy.
Having young students as testers of the new course brought insight how to best to tailor the course to their specific needs. Learning through play is an important part of developing the muscle memory needed to keyboard and students love Typing Master keyboarding games. The joy of competition during game play can tempt some into thinking that their old ways of hunt and peck will prove victorious, but we’re confident that with a little time they will be set right. Meanwhile, our friendly guide Alex has taken up the challenge to ensure that every student’s fingers are brought out of the darkness and into the light of the home keys!
Typing Master would like to thank the South Kitsap County School District, Derry Lyons, his technical team, and all the keyboarding students of SKSD. With their participation, support, teamwork and spirit, they’ve helped to pave the way for successful LDAP integration/implementation in other schools and institutions in the USA and worldwide.
Wishing you a productive school year 2015-2016!