Typing is one of those skills that takes practice. If you have ever tried to teach typing you quickly find that the greatest challenge is keeping students engaged in the practice process. The absolute best site I have found for typing engagement is NitroType. NitroType is a fast paced, multiplayer game where users “power” their race car by their typing speed. Players can earn up to three nitro’s per race (used by pressing the enter or return key) to skip over a word. Winning races earn the player virtual money to spend on new cars and customizations. While the individual cars do not have any special abilities I have been impressed with how motivating collecting the different cars are to students. In addition to collecting new cars, NitroType uses achievements as well as any game on the market. There is a great balance between easy to very hard achievements. Achievements have virtual money and the occasional collectable car to add to your garage. Students can sign up for an account to save their progress through registration on the site or connecting their Facebook profile. NitroType gets an A+ for signup as it does not require students to have an email address to acquire an account. (As I have mentioned in other articles, this is a HUGE deal to classroom teachers). Students can race against their friends or anyone around the world through a friend matching system. Students must first approve a friend request to to add another user to their “friends list”. As with any online game, a discussion about safety and only friending people you know is important. Being able to “race” against your friends is the second big motivating factor with this program. Students can race against computer controlled cars and the AI is tuned perfectly to push typist without crushing the fun. You can experience the whole game for free, but there is an option to become a “gold” member by paying a one-time fee of $10. Gold status gives you an exclusive gold car and $5,000,000 in cash to purchase many of the available cars. This is another area that Nitrotype really does well. You can work your way through the game for free and through leveling and achievements earn enough cash to purchase everything in the game. If you choose the gold option, you still have to level up (by participating in races) to unlock new cars.
Like anything there are always improvements that can be made and Nitrotype is no different. The game can freeze up your web browser occasionally due to all the scripting that runs in the background powering the site. I have found this is the most problematic running in Firefox. The best fix is to completely close out the web browser and relaunch to start racing again. I would like to see the game tweak the cars so that they have a unique ability. Things like ability to hold an additional nitro, a one second head start, etc. This would add another layer to the game that would help some of my slowest typist complete with my better typist. The last thing to be aware is Nitrotype does not have a practice or instruction section. This site is intended for students that have had basic instruction in typing.
Nitrotype is a well balance game that completely engages students. About 85% of my students choose to work on Nitrotype at home on their own. That is probably the best measure of a sites popularity. Nitrotype pushes students to improve their typing speed while maintaining the importance of accuracy. If you have been looking for a site to move your students typing to the next level, Nitrotype is the place.
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