There’s one 20th Century technology skill that isn’t going away any time soon. And that’s, Typing. Yea, voice dictation is coming around, but we’re still pretty far from going keyboard-free. And while there are are hundreds of typing programs out there, there’s always room for one more. Particularly when it’s web based, cross platform, and has just neat innovative twist!
The website is TypeRacer.com and as you might be able to guess, you’re in a race against other people (Hence the ‘racer’ part of the URL). You and 4 other typists square off in a format that is reminiscent of those various races you’d find a carnival. You know, where you try to squirt water into a clowns mouth to blow up a balloon the fastest, or roll balls into numbered holes to try to get your greyhound to run across the field faster than anyone else’s? In TypeRacer, you have a VW Bug representing yourself and you try to get it to the other side of the screen first. Of course, you move your car by typing passages of text (Hency the ‘Type’ part of the URL). Wait for the light to turn green and then away you go. Type accurately and you’ll race to the other side first and get the gold and glory. Make mistakes and you stall until you correct them.
I think the most interesting thing about the site though is probably the text you type. It seemed like actual text, rather than the random characters and words that some programs make you type in. However, I couldn’t quite place what it was from until the end of the race. Once everyone finishes, it shows you the source of the text. One race of mine had me typing a quote from the movie Mulholland Drive by David Lynch. Another had me typing out some of Einstein’s explanation of his Theory of Relativity. In my most recent race, I recognized the quote immediately! It was Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction explaining to John Travolta how TV Pilots work. I really didn’t even need to look at the screen to type that one out.
Of course, you can also click on the thumbnail of the source to be taken to Amazon and purchase the movie or book. I seriously hope these aren’t random passages though, as there are some parts of Pulp Fiction that obviously wouldn’t be appropriate for students. There is a form allowing you to submit a quote, and they do say “Our only requirements are that each text be mostly grammatically correct (many song lyrics don’t fit into this category), and not be depressing or offensive. We’re trying to keep it light If the quote is thought-provoking or funny in some way, that’s a plus!”
That’s it! Couldn’t be simpler. Down the road, I’d love to see them allow people to custom choose sets of quotes to draw from. How great would it be if you could specify for your students passages from the Chronicles of Narnia, or Harry Potter, or Shakespeare? Or whatever book you happen to be reading at the time.
Have fun! With your students I mean…