Newest Review: ... only was I learning how to type efficently which has benefitted me endlessly at school, college and work, it also was quite fun t... more
You'll Be Churning in no time!
Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
Member Name: sirg0508
Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
Date: 22/11/04, updated on 29/05/05 (625 review reads)
Advantages: Type 1 million words per minute! (only joking - i'm at 55-60)
Disadvantages: Graphics not great, American spellings
As part of my mum’s birthday present, my dad bought her this amazing piece of software so she was able to practice at home. It is called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. The version she uses at the college she thinks could be 9 but that one does not work on Windows XP (our home computer) so she went for version 12.
The front of the box looks pretty dull and something you would expect from a teaching piece of software – it looks professional and has a woman on the front with a happy look on her face (Mavis Beacon). There are no fancy graphics but the woman is in front of a picture of some keyboard keys. Turning over, it looks completely different. There are screen shots showing exactly what you get from this – customised programs, On screen guide hands, Tracking your improvement (a graph) and the best part – GAMES!
System requirements – unlike version 9, this one will work on Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP. It also needs: Pentium 166Mhz Processor, 32Mb RAM, 50Mb hard disk space, 16 bit 64-x480 colour screen, Direct X compatible video card, Direct X 8 or later, Speakers, Mouse, (Recommended) Internet Browser.
There is technical support available from www.gsp.cc and Broderbund makes the software.
Ok, so on to the software itself! This one is a little more advanced than what my mum is used to. It is very useful if you run a small business, if you spend time chatting on the internet (please note that you will not be taught Text messaging i.e. ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ or anything like that), or if you want to make more professional looking documents. This is a virtual classroom and a very handy piece of equipment (the whole Mavis Beacon range) that has taught millions to type properly from Beginners to Professionals. The software allows you to choose your specific age and your skill level so if you are just a beginner, you can start right at the beginning or if you are more advanced, it will let you move on to some harder things. This version is ideal for students, executives or anyone that wishes to improve their typing speed and accuracy.
Features (from box):
* Adapt Response Technology – Customises the programme to your strengths and weaknesses
* Tailored Lesson Content – Lessons are based on your age and skill level. You can even import your own content to use during the exercises
* On Screen Guide hands – Watch the guide hands to learn the correct finger positions for typing
* 8 games – Fun-filled games will help you build your typing speed, rhythm and accuracy.
There is nothing inside the box and annoyingly the installation instructions are on the CD itself so I would recommend you write them down (if the program doesn’t automatically load you have to click on Start, Run, then type D:/Launcher.exe (D = the letter of your CD drive) then click OK.
When it starts to run, you have to agree to the terms before it will let you install it. You should have your speakers on or plugged in and you will hear some music which sounds a little like something from the 18th century but it livens up what is usually a boring installation. The set up process is the same as with most other software installations – wizard – choosing which file you would like it saved to on your computer etc. You still need to have the CD in your computer when you want to run the file. You can then click on ‘Run’ once it is installed.
You also get the choice to run the course in Spanish which is a little out of my league but could be quite fun when you master the English and could help if you learn Spanish or know any Spanish (I don’t).
You MUST have your speakers working for this course. It tells you what to click on and how to do what you need to. There is text on the screen but Mavis tells you what to do. My computer has a VERY noisy fan and it is quite hard to hear. I also didn’t notice anything to change the volume on the program itself, so you may have to exit, turn up the volume, then come back and see if it is any better.
To begin your course, you have to choose your name from the list, or if this is your first time, you can click ‘New User’ and Next, and that will take you on to Register as a user. You have to choose your age range from the list:
* 8 – 11
* 12 – 15
* 16 +
I of course chose the 16+ but I now think I should have gone for the 8 – 11!!
You then go on to choose your keyboard. I have no idea what my keyboard is so just chose the standard. You then have to choose whether you are using the letters or the number keypad. I like the next part as you choose the ‘Words per Minute Goal’. It tells you at the bottom what the minimum goal is for your age range and what level you should be aiming for. Age 16+ says you should have 40 words per minute and aim for 70!
You are taken to an office, which reminds me of the Packard Bell Tuition I had on my very first computer although the graphs are not as good. E.g. click on the laptop computer to start your lessons or click on the door to play the games, click on Mavis to get some help.
If you start with the computer, this allows you to be in a classroom situation. You are taught how to have your hands and are given a series of lessons on typing. There are no words but it helps you to get used to using the keyboard and all the different letters. There is a virtual keyboard at the bottom of the screen to show you which letters you should be typing and with which finger. The hands on the virtual computer are a sort of transparent brown colour so you can see the letters. An example of a test you can do is: ‘asa adff fasd dsds…’ etc. The letters are given above and you have to retype them below. As soon as it begins, the clock starts and it will calculate your Words Per Minute – mine were around 17 because I kept making mistakes!
Another thing you can do is a speed test. This is a page with a typed out paragraph(s) and you have to type what is written as fast and as accurately as you can. If you make a mistake, you will hear a noise and you can go back and change it. You have short words and then longer words, which are a little harder to spell. There is a little counter at the bottom to tell you your words per minute and at the end you are given a percentage of accuracy and you can also print out your own little certificate! I didn’t bother with that.
On to the games! There are 8 different ones to choose from. One is in a car and you are driving down the road. Words come across the screen above the steering wheel and you have to retype them. If you get a letter wrong, you get a squashed fly on the windscreen! EWW! I managed to get quite a few and it doesn’t look nice. Another is a penguin that jumps from iceberg to iceberg. You have to type the words as quickly as you can and he will keep going for about 15 words (I was busy concentrating so didn’t get a chance to count them!). There was also a sort of space invader type game, a checkout which involves using the 10 Key (Number keypad), a frog which eats flies some sort of strange worm one and a underwater tank. The graphics on these games are not top quality like you would find on any of today’s games for the Playstation or Xbox etc. but they are pretty good and will keep a child amused if they are having a go – they will be learning as well as having fan and may not even realise it!
You would think that this was enough – but NO! You also get a MINIMAVIS on your computer! It comes as a little icon beside your clock etc. This is your personal coach. It gives you a link to MavisBeacon.com, Speed Gauge, finger positions, templates and fun stuff – here you will find emoticons and LOADS of .BMP pictures.
Overall, I would highly recommend this for any computer user. It will also help children to spell properly in an actual classroom situation and if it was used in schools, it might save a few children from things wrongly in their English essays etc. I remember in my exam writing ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ but luckily noticed when I read through it – I don’t think the examiners would have been pleased! It has words such as ‘didn’t’ and ‘it’s’ so you become used to using the correct punctuation as well as ‘;’ and ‘,’. I think I should have started using this a long time ago!! Even though my recommended Words per Minute is supposed to be around 40 (I should be aiming for 70) – I’m lucky if I reach 41! I didn’t know I was that bad but hopefully after a few Mavis Beacon lessons, I’ll be able to churn out reviews in minutes! One thing I have noticed – the pictures just reminded me because they are all American maps: this is an American CD so gives the US spellings e.g. ‘center’ and ‘emphasize’.
So if you are interested in buying this, you can find version 12 for the great value price of £4.99 which is a little strange as the others e.g. version 9 is going for over £10! We got ours from Amazon but remember you have to add on P&P as well as VAT so it came to a total of £8.22.