National Heritage Academies Improve Their Students' Typing Skills by Using with Google Chromebooks

Jess Scaggs is the head of the IT department for National Heritage Academies, a large public charter school management company with 80 schools and 51,000 students in the United States. She describes herself as being "obsessed with data," and she uses information about her students' performance to evaluate various educational tools in the classroom.

At a Glance

Jess Scaggs, an EdTech Specialist for National Heritage Academies, needed to find typing software that was easy to use, fun for students, and compatible with Google Chromebooks. Jess solved this problem by introducing TypingClub to her district; Typingclub is a typing program that works with PCs, MACs, tablets, and Chromebooks. By using Google Chromebooks, the EdClub Chrome App, and Single Sign-On with Google, Jess has dramatically decreased the amount of time she and her teachers must spend behind the scenes preparing for class.

The Challenge

Jess Scaggs is in charge of selecting educational programs from the ever-changing pool of educational technology options today. Her responsibilities include deciding which programs to use at over 80 schools, as well as providing support for the IT professionals at each school. She is always looking for the best new technology for the classroom. Jess has already introduced over 15 schools in her district to Chromebook-based learning. Before she introduced Chromebooks, the schools used standard desktop computers, which had to be manually loaded with software. The most effective typing courses are tailored to individual students' skill levels and previous experience, and software that gives instructors the ability to customize lesson plans was not available using a disk or download-based model. In addition, setting up student accounts on a per-computer basis was time consuming for the tech staff and inefficient for the students. In Jess's district, typing classes are held only once per week, and students were spending valuable class time setting up their computers instead of actually practicing their lessons. Jess saw that to maximize class time, she needed a better technology solution.

The Solution

Jess instituted two new tools in her district: Chromebooks and TypingClub. She knew that static computer labs no longer cut it for the rapidly-changing world of education because students need to be able to access computer resources for multiple subjects outside of a computer lab. Chromebooks were a perfect solution for Jess and her pilot schools because they offered students portability, ease of use, and compatibility with many essential educational tools and programs. Chromebooks include an interface that is user-friendly for students because applications direct students to the correct programs, thus avoiding the confusion of typing entire URLs. Chromebooks can also be set up so that users are always logged in to their Google accounts. This Single Sign-On option makes it easy for students to log in to applications without having to remember a username and password.

Once we expand our Chromebook program to other schools in the National Heritage Academies network, we know TypingClub will continue to be compatible and kids will continue to love using it!

Jess Scaggs

TypingClub is a web-based solution that minimizes the time needed for class setup and helps students learn to type effectively and efficiently. With TypingClub, teachers can spend more time giving one-on-one feedback to students, answering questions, and administering tests. Account setup on Chromebooks was easy for Jess; she simply downloaded the EdClub app on her administrative console, then pushed it to students' Chromebooks. Since TypingClub has Single Sign-On capabilities with Google, the school simply had to upload students and instructors with their Google Email addresses, then students click the pre-loaded app to sign in to the district account. If students want to work from a different computer, they can do so by going to their district portal URL and using their Google email address as their username. After Jess integrated Chromebooks and TypingClub, students began practicing their typing skills consistently throughout the week, and are now learning typing skills much more efficiently.

The Capabilities

Jess's students have sped through the lesson plans assigned to them. Students who use cloud-based software such as TypingClub can work from any device - compare that to a school where teachers cannot assign homework because they rely on a computer lab with downloaded software. With TypingClub, students have the ability to repeat lessons at school and at home, which allows them to gain muscle memory more quickly. And because students progress through the basic lessons more quickly, teachers will be able to assign more advanced lessons on subjects such as history, geography, and advanced vocabulary. These customized lessons allow students to learn different subjects while they practice their typing. On the administrative front, TypingClub has a seamless process for uploading student lists at the beginning of the school year and altering class rosters later on. This has significantly reduced administrative legwork for Jess, teachers, and IT professionals.

I decided to pilot Chromebooks in one of our schools, because I could see the utility of having kids be able to take their work with them from classroom to classroom. Once we made this decision, we needed to find great Chrome-compatible software to work seamlessly with the new technology, and TypingClub was a fantastic find. I took the plunge with TypingClub and it's been a great fit for our district as a whole, as well as our Chromebook school.