Where you can learn about, share, and discuss teaching keyboarding

Are you looking for a free online typing web Screen Shot 2013-05-25 at 9.36.48 AMsite?  How about the Typing Club?

I have shared a number of them on this blog (check the Online Keyboarding category in the right column.) The Typing Club is a  good program for middle school and above.  I say this because there are no animated characters like you would find in some of the other programs I reviewed.

The Typing Club is well designed. It has 100 levels for you to complete. Each level has about 100 keystrokes that you need to complete.  It begins with the regular j & f lesson and ends with < & >  The typing text is interesting. The final completion analysis is thorough. It will inform you of your Speed, Accuracy and Time. It will also tell you about your typing efficiency for each individual keystroke. (BTW I tried just pounding the keyboard to get through the lesson and at the end it told me, in polite terms, that I should redo the lesson.)

There is also a possibility for you to set this up for your whole class as well. I didn’t explore this part but you might want to see how it might help your class.

Both the individual and class flavors of the Typing Club are free but there is a note that says “There will be an optional paid version available on July 15th, 2013.”

Enjoy.

Z

ImageI just received an email about a keyboarding book stand that you might need in your keyboarding classes. If your school is using keyboarding books, you might find this durable plastic stand a useful device for helping your students hold their books while they keyboard.

This is created by DisplayStands4You http://www.displaystands4you.com

Keyboard

Keyboard (Photo credit: orangeacid)

What characteristics make a better 4th grade keyboarder?  Here is some research on what effects handsize, age, music experience, gender and athletic background have on keyboarding skills.

This study evaluated the effectiveness of using the Almena Method keyboarding program to teach keyboarding to 4th grade students. Student characteristics were evaluated to measure their effect upon keyboarding success. Seventeen Midwestern fourth grade students of a mixed sex, ethnic, and racial orientation were involved. Students participated in daily 30-minute keyboarding lessons for four weeks. Students tended to increase their keyboarding speed by 33%. Age affected success inversely. Younger students improved more than older students. Music Experience had a positive effect. Larger-handed students improved the most. Gender and athletic background didn’t have any effect upon keyboarding improvement. The specific student characteristics can make a significant difference in student success.

Keyboarding Camp!: Identifying the Effects of 4th-Grader Characteristics on Keyboarding Proficiency

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Here’s another cache of keyboarding games. It’s your typical blow things up while you type selection, but I like the Type Type Revolution game.  Take off of Dance Dance Revolution.  You type as letters rise to the top and disco music plays in the background.

Which do you like?

Z

4 Innovative Keyboards

inc.com

Looking for new ideas for keyboards? Inc.com recently reviewed a keyboard foursome. They range from the Luxeed U7 Dynamic Pixel LED Keyboard which allows you to program a color scheme for each of the keys . . . to . . . the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard. One of the keyboards is even dedicated to provide an easier way for you to enter information into your iPhone.

Do you have an interesting keyboard that you use?

What effect does a 4-week online computer keyboarding instructional tutorial have on 4th grade students?

Teaching keyboarding at the elementary level is the way it should be.  Kids are using computers during their preschool ages and should be provided guidance early in their lives so as to develop good keyboarding habits.  I must admit that I am not a fan of preschool keyboarding instruction. I think that it should begin about 3rd grade. Research states that 8 years old is a good age because students have developed the coordination and manual dexterity to keyboard efficiently.

I agree with the physical development statements, but more importantly they have a reason to communicate in a written format.  It doesn’t make sense for kids to learn how to keyboard if they don’t have much to say.

Amy Lockhart and I had an opportunity to do some keyboarding research in her 4th grade classroom at Price Laboratory School at the University of Northern Iowa. We involved the students in 4-weeks of instruction. We spent 40 minutes a day in the computer lab learning how to keyboard. It was fun and productive.

Keyboarding Camp! Keyboarding Skills for 4th Grade Students (.pdf)

We used the Almena Keyboarding Method. This is a unique form of instruction where instead of learning the homerow first, the Almena Method uses a series of mnemonic jingles for each finger’s keys. These jingles consist of three-word phrases that allow the students to learn the keys’ locations. The phrase, “Quiet Aunt Zelda”, was used to remember the left little finger keys; Q, A and Z. The phrase, “Over Longer Periods”, was used for the right ring finger keys; O, L and P.

The Almena Keyboarding Method was relatively successful. The 4th graders averaged an improvement of 2.6 Adjusted Words Per Minute (A-WPM). The A-WPM was calculated by subtracting the number of Errors Per Minute (EPM) from the WPM. While 2.6 doesn’t seem like much of an improvement, consider that they began at an average of 7.2 A-WPM.  This means that they improved an average of 36% in keyboarding fluency.  Not bad.

What was unique about our action research was that we also investigated how specific attributes affected students’ ability to keyboard.  These characteristics were: Gender, Age, Hand Size, Music Experience, and Athletic Experience.

  • Gender – Boy or girl.
  • Age – Students’ ages ranged from 9 – 11 years old.
  • Hand Size – Students’ hand sizes ranged from 5.0 to 6.75 inches in length from wrist to the tip of the middle finger. This variable was classified into three groups for analysis.
  • Music Experience – Students were questioned about their musical experience. If they had taken lesson for playing a musical instrument, they were identified as having Musical Experience.
  • Athletic Experience – Students were questioned about their athletic experience. If they had been involved in an organized athletic activity, they were identified as having Athletic Experience.

We had some interesting results.  Here is an table displaying the overall results based upon Adjusted Words Per Minute:

What does this tell you?  The small size of the sample does not allow us to generalize to a larger population, but it shows some trends that should lead to additional research.

  • Musical experience seems to have an affect on success using keyboarding tutorials.
  • Younger students tended to key faster then their older classmates.
  • Students with smaller hands tended to key faster than their bigger-handed classmates.

We need to further analyze this data to investigate how multiple variables affect A-WPM. Do small-handed 9-year-olds key faster then bigger-handed 9-year-olds?

If this research catches your interest, you can download the whole .pdf file here:

What are your experiences in young students keyboarding?

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Lots of school districts are launching 1-to-1 initiatives in their schools, but they are necessarily providing the keyboarding instruction that their students need to receive if they are going to get the most out of their new computers.

Some teachers believe that the students need to take a full semester of keyboarding before they should be allowed to touch the computer.  Other educators believe that the students already know how to keyboard (albeit Hunt-and-Peck) from all of the computer work they do on a day-to-day basis.

I would like to weigh-in on these issues by providing this brief posting as the framework of my argument and then linking you to my other postings that further explain these points. I will begin by discussing the 3 necessary elements in teaching keyboarding and then discuss how it would be most efficient to teach keyboarding in a school setting:
There are 3 basic issues to consider when teaching keyboarding: Accuracy, Speed and Technique (including Ergonomics.) Certainly keyboarding classes worry about proper business letter format but that isn’t keyboarding.  That is business communication and technically is irrelevant to the act of keyboarding itself.

Accuracy
The need for accuracy goes without discussion. When someone keyboards, they need to be able to type the correct letters to convey the ideas that they want to share. The method for achieving accuracy is what is up for discussion. There are primarily two methods for knowing how to press the correct key:

  1. The most obvious method is to look at the keyboard, find the desired letter and press the key. This can be accurate but not too efficient. Everyday you see  that students have learned to use the hunt-and-peck method to key but this limits their speed.  Speed is ultimately important.
  2. The more productive method of being accurate is to learn touch keyboarding.  This is the method taught in schools. Keyboarders memorize which fingers are used to tap each of the keys. After sufficient practice, this connection becomes automatic and the keyboarders can accurately key without even thinking about it.

Speed
Speed is essential if we want to keep up with our students’ thought processes today. One of the realizations that we need to make is that people use keyboarding differently than offices used typing in the 60s, 70s, 80s and early 90s.  Back then, we were training people to type what someone else has written. Often typing pools or executive secretaries would formalize the handwritten letters of their bosses.  Today, people use keyboarding for original composition.  Whether it is writing a paper, email or Instant Message, there is a flow of ideas coming from the keyboardist’s thoughts that s/he is trying to capture. Poor speed can certainly get in the way here. I don’t know how fast you type, but on a good day I can type 60+ words per minute.  That means that I am striking at least 5 keys per second. Even with this speed, I often get frustrated because my thoughts are flowing faster than my fingers can move. I don’t have any research to back this up, but I would guess that hunt-and-peck will limit a keyboarder’s speed to 35 wpm.

Who Touch Types? http://keyboarding.wordpress.com/2008/02/21/who-touch-types/

Technique
Technique involves the methods that keyboarders should use to optimize their speed and the ergonomics that will lessen physical injuries. This is important and you will be able to read more about it in the articles I am going to recommend from my Keyboarding site.   As you probably noticed, I have cataloged the research on this website by the categories in the right-hand column.

You can get a good review of the keyboarding research by reading  the White Paper that I wrote for Sunburst and their software, Type To Learn 4. I was also the research consultant for their work.  Type To Learn 4 won a national award for excellence in software in 2009.

A New Look @ Research-Based Keyboarding Instruction
http://keyboarding.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/a-new-look-research-based-keyboarding-instruction/

How to Teach Keyboarding
How should you teach keyboarding?  Everyday for 30-40 minutes for 4 weeks.  This will provide a good basis.  Here is an article that I wrote on this.

Why are you teaching keyboarding? http://keyboarding.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/why-are-you-teaching-keyboarding/

I hope that this is helpful and you might want to  review more of the Keyboarding Research website to find the references that I didn’t include here.

What are you doing in your schools to teach keyboarding.  Have any of you decided NOT to teach your students how to keyboard?

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