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DIY Keyboard Kit Review by Holly Johnson

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Tactile Character Recognition Keyboard Cover
Keybodo
4411 Jacque Street
Richmond, VA 23230
http://www.keybodo.com

Keybodo has created and patented a design for a keyboard that allows each letter to be felt by students – which is particularly helpful if you have kinesthetic learners.  Kinesthetic, or tactile, learning is the process of learning new things through touch or action.  The other two types of learners are visual learners, who learn things by seeing them played out, and auditory learners, who learn new things by hearing them.  Many students are a combination of two, or even all three, styles.

The art of handwriting used to be a blend of visual and kinesthetic styles, as students would physically feel themselves forming the letters.  Personally, we feel that this is still an important skill and work on handwriting daily.  However, we also recognize that typing _is_ the way of the future, and teach our children that skill, too.  It is a bit harder to teach typing to a kinesthetic child…while he is physically moving (his fingers), there is little physical feedback – only the misprint on the screen. 

The Keybodo Tactile Character Recognition Keyboard Cover is designed and tested to provide students with the ability to feel their words.  Using a specific patented pattern of elevated bumps and ridges, the Tactile Character Recognition system creates the sensation of raised lettering.  This allows the typist to feel the letters as they appear on the screen, which results in improved speed and accuracy.

In addition to addressing the tactile-based learning style, the rubber (similar to silicone) keyboard cover also protects against crumbs, dust, and spills, is dishwasher safe (do you know how many germs are on the average keyboard?), and does not lose its shape even when stretched.  It fits the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Apple Wireless.  PC and ChromeBook keyboards are available in bulk-purchases only.

The DIY keyboard kit comes with everything needed to build a functional keyboard.  Recommended for children aged seven and up, it includes all of the keys and physical keyboard components, the necessary screwdriver, several colors of acrylic paint, paintbrush, and the USB connector.  It also comes with the instruction booklet which teaches your child to build the keyboard in only twelve steps.  Once the project is completed, they can plug in the keyboard to their computer and actually use it!  There is something satisfying about building a project with your own hands and seeing it work.  If you have a tinkerer, or a child who likes to build things and work with their hands, this is a great project!

We used these tools in our home, putting the keyboard kit together over a few days and using the keyboard cover for typing practice three times a week.  Our students are 8, 10, and 13, and the two youngest used the keyboard cover while the oldest used the DIY kit.  The keyboard cover was something new, so it rejuvenated their interest in typing practice.  It did take some getting used to, and my sensory-processing-disorder son had a very hard time adjusting to the feel of the keys.  He doesn’t like change, but once he became accustomed to it, his typing began to improve.  (If you have an SPD student, then you are accustomed to the time needed to incorporate change.)  The oldest boy is a tinkerer, and he very much enjoyed putting the keyboard kit together.  It was even more thrilling to him to see something that he’d built actually work and be functional.

If you have littles, you’ll want to be sure to keep your older child building the DIY keyboard kit in a separate area.  There are many little pieces involved.  You’ll also want to set up in an area that can stay a mess for a couple of days.  It is much easier to put together over a few days, and leave all of the pieces out and in place, than to try and put them up each night.

As a parent, the only concern I have with the keyboard cover is whether my child will become dependent upon the ridges to retain his typing skills.  According to the company, “There is no immediate impact of removing the cover and all of our users retain their learned typing capabilities in the short term. You will still be able to use keyboards that do not have Keybodo Covers on them. Just remember to align on the home row using the dots on the F and J keys!”  I do not feel that my son has progressed enough yet to remove the cover and give it a fair shot, so we cannot speak to that claim.

As the mother of sons, I appreciated the tactile focus of these products.  They bring a new perspective to learning and help to reinforce skills through a different modality.  The keyboard cover retails for $19.99, while the DIY keyboard kit retails for $24.99.  All orders are shipped free of charge.

-Product review by Holly Johnson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2017

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