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

How fast should your students keyboard?  It all depends.

You know that the main advantage keyboarding has over writing is that it can be FASTER (aside from looking nicer, be less fatiguing, easier to edit, and enters content into a digital medium 😉 ) .   Our districts may have identified specific speeds for students of different levels to keyboard, but what does that mean to our students?  Its a great way to assign grades, but it isn’t personal to the students.

IDEA: Have the students copy a paragraph by hand for one minute and then count the number of letters they completed. Divide by 5 and you have the WPM for them. Identify the number of errors.

Next, have them do the same thing with the same paragraph using a keyboard. Compute the WPM. Identify the number of errors.

NOW you have the gauntlet!! Now you have a way to challenge them to increase their keyboarding. They can work to beat their PB (Personal Best). Once they have conquered that, they can work to keyboard at 125% of their handwriting PB.

What do you think? Have you ever done anything like this? Sure, your district has probably identified minimum speeds for your students, but try personally motivating them using this method.

Love to hear your feedback or success stories.

Leigh

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.52.29 AMJust found this Symbaloo for Keyboarding created by Mr. Dean.  It is a wealth of keyboarding resources.  Check it out.

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?

== Summary == http://www.epa.gov/win/winnews/i...
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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? https://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
https://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? https://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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Rock and Roll Keyboarding 4 U

Looking for an online keyboarding program that is fun and effective? A couple of years ago I shared the BBC Dance Mat Typing system. It is a unique animated program where the Brits take keyboarding novices through their paces while singing Rock and Roll!!!!

How can you lose? It has all of the necessary elements: Rock and Roll, well-designed lessons, and animated goats, chickens and frogs.

I like the overall program but I thought that the initial interface might be a bit confusing. SOOOO, I created my own wiki opening screen. It worked well and our 4th grade kids loved it. The funniest part was that after they spent half an hour listening to goats sing rock and roll with a cockney accent, they spent the rest of the day “talking funny.” =-)

Give it a try and tell us how your students (and you) liked it.

Z

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mcenroeIs keyboarding replacing handwriting instruction in today’s schools?

This is the question that Connecticut NPR’s (WNPR) talk show host, Colin McEnroe posed to author Kitty Burns Florey in a 25-minute interview on 9/3/209. Florey wrote the book Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting. This is a wonderful book that begins by telling the history of handwriting and the tools used to make it possible. Flory then discusses the implications of promoting (and not promoting) handwriting in today’s society.

Providing counterpoint to Mrs. Florey, McEnroe included me (Leigh Zeitz) as the keyboarding advocate.  Actually, Kitty had contacted me while she was writing her book and she had suggested that I should be in the conversation. Thank You, Kitty.

Rounding off the group was Dr. Betty Getty of Portland Community College who developed the revolutionary Italic Handwriting system that can even help doctors improve their handwriting to a point of legibility.

The discussion was an amiable one. It was pretty much agreed that keyboarding and handwriting are both essential skills.  Keyboarding is a lifelong skill that needs to be taught in the 3rd grade to get students “off on the right track.” Handwriting is a skill that every person needs to have to allow them to complete the everyday activities.

I tried to introduce how learning to write in the dynamic world of word processing actually changes how we think when we write. It didn’t make much impact on the discussion. The rest of the folks were discussing how handwriting enabled writers to “get he feel of the words” as they write.

You might enjoy listening to the podcast.  Here’s the link.
(There’s a prolonged ad at the beginning. Our interview begins about 10 minutes into the podcast.)

Podcast: http://tinyurl.com/handwritingmacenroe

Where to Find Keyboarding Lesson Plans and Tutorials

Finding online lesson plans and tutorials for keyboarding is a great way for teachers to save time and engage students in the classroom. Here are a few resources that can be used to teach beginner and advanced keyboarders finger placement, speed, and accuracy:

Teachers.net – The Teachers.net site provides 36 keyboarding lesson plans for students of all ages. The lesson plans range from beginner to advanced.

Learn Keyboard Typing – Learn Keyboard Typing offers step-by-step instruction to help students increase keyboarding skills. This four-lesson tutorial provides demos, tips on finger placement, and a practice area.

Keyboarding & Applications – This instructional site from Tayna Skinner’s Business Education Lesson Plans features lesson plans and activities, keyboarding educational links, and typing tutors for students of all ages.

TestMyTyping.com – TestMyTyping.com offers a fun and easy typing tutorial for improving typing speed. The tutorial features 10 lessons which can be used by beginner and advanced typists.

MrKent’s Typing Tutor – MrKent’s Typing Tutor is an interactive tutorial for learning the placement of keys without having to actually look at the keys. The tutorial features 14 learning lessons in all.

Education World – This open source lesson plan site features a Primary Keyboarding Skills section for grades K-2. The lessons in this section introduce younger students to the home row of keys by using phrases that correlate to the letters on the keys.

Utah Education Network – The Utah Education Network offers keyboarding lesson plans designed for grades 6-9. The lesson plans can be used to improve accuracy, speed, and finger placement.

Glencoe’s Online Keyboarding – This online interactive keyboarding tutorial features 16 keyboarding lessons as well as tips for improving finger placement.

Nail It Now – Nail It Now provides a fun, four-lesson tutorial for elementary school children. The objective is for children to learn and understand key positions as well as finger placement.

Typing Games and Lessons – This keyboarding site provides free online tutorials and lessons for improving typing skills and speed.

Typing Tutor – Typing Tutor is a Java typing tutor/game that can be used to practice keyboarding skills.

MoneyInstructor.com – MoneyInstuctor.com provides lessons, typing worksheets, exercises, and finger charts for keyboarding students and teachers.

TeAchnology – This online teaching resource provides several lesson plans designed to improve keyboarding skills. Teachers can also find rubrics and worksheets for beginner to advanced keyboarders.

Lesson Plans – This keyboarding lesson plan from Lesson Plans improves speed and accuracy through group drills. This is a fun way for 5th through 12th graders to improve typing skills.

Computer Training Tutorials – The Computer Training Tutorials site offers an interactive tutorial for beginning keyboarders. This tutorial gives explanations of the keys and provides a practice area to test skills.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes for OnlineCollege.org, an online college resource.

20 Free Keyboarding Resources for the Classroom

The Internet is an excellent place to find fun and cost-effective ways to improve your students’
keyboarding skills. Resources that increase speed and accuracy are available for keyboarders at any level. Here is a list of 20 free lessons, tests, games, and activities to explore today:

Lessons and Tests

Goodtyping – Goodtyping offers a free typing course to correct your finger placement and increase speed. This web-based course provides a total of 27 guided lessons in 18 different layouts.

Typingweb – Typingweb is a good typing resource for students of all ages. The site offers a complete course, typing tutorials, exercises, and tests to improve accuracy and speed.

Sens-lang.org – Sens-lang.org offers lessons, tutors, games, and tests to increase keyboarding skills. The site also provides visual demonstrations, tips, and tricks to improve finger placement.

Alpha Free Typing Tutor – The Alpha Free Typing Tutor provides step-by-step instruction to improve keyboarding ability. The site also hosts lessons, games, and tests that score wpm and accuracy.

BellaOnline – BellaOnline features five free typing tests for speed and accuracy. Two great tests to try include the Pride and Prejudice test and the Hamlet test.

Keybr.com – This free typing tutorial hosts three basic lessons guaranteed to improve keyboarding skills. Keybr.com even lets you import text from a website or blog so that you can customize your learning environment.

Learn 2 Type for Kids – Learn 2 Type provides typing lessons and games that are specifically designed for kids. Teachers can register for a free account to create customized lessons based on age and grade.

TypingLessons-Online.com
This instructional learning site features video instructions, character exercises, and speed typing lessons. Lessons can be customized with news articles or your own text.

ARTypist – ARTypist was created to help students learn, improve, and master keyboarding. This online tutor provides 10 lessons and games.

?The UgLY TypInG PrACtice ProGrAM! – This online keyboarding program specializes in customizable speed drills for numbers, punctuation, and symbols. This site isn’t the most visually pleasing space to behold, but it does provide powerful practice with fully customizable keyboarding improvement options.

Games and Activities

AlphAttack – AlphAttack is a keyboarding game provided by Gamequarium. This game is a great way to build accuracy and learn the placement of letters on the keyboard.

Keyboarding Skills – E-learning for Kids offers this free keyboarding game for 5th-12th graders. The game covers a wide range of keyboarding and navigation skills.

Keyman – The TypingMaster provides many fun and original games for children of all ages. The Keyman game is a special typing version of Pacman which allows you to learn keyboarding skills while avoiding the evil typo ghosts.

Typer Shark – The Typer Shark from Pop Cap is an excellent way to increase typing speed. The game provides several settings from easy (20wpm) to expert (70wpm).  There is also an extreme setting for fast-fingered keyboarders.

Type Type Revolution – Played Online provides 20 different games to increasing your 10-fingered typing skills, including Type Type Revolution. This fun, interactive game can challenge anyone’s keyboarding skills.

TypeMaster – The TypeMaster challenges students to type 10 lines as fast as they can. The game then calculates the student’s time, speed, and wpm.

Speed Typing – Speed Typing improves speed and accuracy through this fun, fast-typing game.  The object is to type 12 words as fast as you can without typos. The words get more difficult as your work toward the 12th row.

Cup Stacking – LearningGamesforKids.com offers three fun typing games for children, including this Cup Stacking game.  Cup Stacking is designed specifically for the elementary learners.

Typo – Typo is an interactive keying game to increase your typing accuracy. The game teaches you to type quickly and reduces points for typos.

Goalie – This game from Customtyping.com works on keyboarding speed by challenging users to type a word next to the on-screen ball.  If you don’t type fast enough, you’re out of the game.

Guest post from Karen
Schweitzer, the About.com Guide to Business School. Karen also writes about colleges online for
OnlineColleges.net.

ZEBRAS TEACHING KEYBOARDING IN THE JUNGLE??

Now I have heard everything.

I just found Key Seeker through Twitter (posted by tsmileygal).  It is an ingeneous program that is aimed at young keyboarders. It has the typical plot where a letter appears in the middle of the jungle followed by an animal or vine or x-ray whose name begins with that letter. What makes this program different is the high-pitched disembodied voice that helps the adventurer through the program. It’s fun!

Upon doing some additional research about Key Seeker, It appears that Ann White created this program as a Senior Project by students at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Congratulations, Students.

I must admit that I am not a fan of teaching keyboarding in kindergarten. I believe that students need to have a reason to keyboard. This means that they have/want to communicate using a written language and they don’t do enough of that in kindergarten to necessitate keyboarding skills. Having said this, Key Seeker is a fun program for neo-keyboarders – no matter the age.

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The Almena Method

picture-1 What would you say about learning the keys on the keyboard in an hour? The Almena Method claims that you can learn all of the key locations in an hour. It doesn’t claim that you will become an accomplished keyboarder in an hour, but they have a reference system for you to use to figure out which fingers you need to use for each of the letters.

The Almena Method is quite different from the standard style of mastering the homerow and then moving throughout the rest of the keyboard learning the keys. Almena King developed a series of mnemonic jingles to assist in remembering the key locations. Once you learn these

picture-2 jingles, you can just recite them to yourself to remember where you’ll find the letters.

Notice the first jingle, Quiet Aunt Zelda, is for the three keys you hit with your left pinky. Want Something eXtra is for your left ring finger . . . and so on and so on and so on.

The Almena method is available as a server-loaded program that will run through your school’s network. It is also available through the Web so that the students can run it at school and at home.

Does it work? We used it with a class of 4th graders and had reasonable outcomes. Not all of the students used the jingles. When we interviewed the students, only about half of them said that they used the jingles to find the letters. I think that it had something to do with their learning styles.

almenatitlepageThe program is not limited to learning the jingles. The Almena Method also includes a number of lessons that the students use to practice keying the letters they have learned using the jingles. It includes assessment tests as well to gauge student progress.

Have you tried the Almena Method?  How did it work?  What did you find that made it useful?

Z

vidabox_laser_keyboard_lrgKeyboards don’t always have to be connected to your computer. There are a number of keyboards and opportunities that you can use to enter information into your computer, xbox, or ??

Adam Thursby blogs about how he has used the Logitech diNovo Mini, nMediaPC 2.4Ghz Wireless Keyboard with Trackball and Remote Combo, and Vidabox Premium Wireless Keyboard with Laser Trackball options to link to his computer.

Check out Adam’s posting, Remote Keyboarding Your PC.

The Typing of the Dead


Looking for ways to motivate boys to learn to keyboard?  Then you need to find The Typing of the Dead.

In this program, the player (you have to call him that because of the video game aspect of the program) is confronted with a never-ending onslaught of zombies and monsters.  Yes, you guessed it, the only way that they can fight the monsters is by typing the words quickly and accurately.

Don’t you love the keyboards that are attached to each of the heros’ chests?  It’s almost like being in Second Life.

This program is totally unique.  It is using the PacMan Theory of Motivation to get students to learn “something that’s good for ’em.”

This game was first released in 1999 in Japan for video arcades with dual keyboards. What a great way to take education to where the kids are . . .Typing from the Dead photo

Later, it was ported over to Dreamcast, Windows, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo. You might say that it has been received with mixed reactions. some call it “an enjoyable game.”  PC World identified it as one of the “Top Ten Worst Games

What about you, will you be putting this game in your schools anytime soon?  Comment about this.

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Keyboarding 4 Kids

I just found an interesting video on YouTube showing how keyboarding can help dyslexic children succeed in school. They don’t have to worry about writing the word (letters) improperly because the computer always types the letters the correct way.  What do you think? Have you or your students/children had similar experiences?

picture-1Covering the keyboard while learning to   keyboard is a popular strategy for teaching touch typing. Interestingly, there hasn’t been much research on the effects of using keyboard covers when students are learning to keyboard. Overall, the research says that students who can’t see their keyboards while they use keyboarding software to learn to keyboard will learn significantly faster than those who did not use covers.

KeyPointz 1 – Keyboard Covers (pdf printable format)

==============================================

Dr. Z’z
Key Pointz
No. 1

Can Learning to Touch Type be Facilitated by Covering the Keys on a Computer?

by Leigh E. Zeitz, Ph.D.
University of Northern Iowa
May 25, 2008

Learning to key without looking at the keyboard is a difficult thing to do.  This is especially difficult if your learners have taught themselves to type and developed “bad habits.” On of the most prominent “bad habits” that novice keyboarders learn is looking at the keyboard while typing. In response to this need, vendors have developed keyboard covers (or skins) which hide the letters on the keys from students.  But does this work?
The $64 question is “Will it help my students learn to touch type faster if we install keyboard covers?”

Let’s see what the research says:
Steven Reagan (2000) studied multiple factors when middle school students used software programs to learn touch typing skills. He compared two typing programs: one that was drill and practice (KeyWords Elementary) and a gaming drill and practice program (Type to Learn 3). Half of the students in each of these groups used covers on their keyboards and half of them did not. The results showed that the middle school students who used KeyWords Elementary and had covers on their keyboards did not experience a significant different in improvement over those who could see the letters on their keys.
Conversely, students who had covered keyboards while using Type to Learn achieved a significant increase in their keyboarding skills. Interestingly enough, the Type to Learn users without the covers achieved an average speed that was lower than either of the KeyWords Elementary users. The researcher observed that the game players were highly motivated to do well on the game so those without covers would look at the keyboard instead of  using the more efficient touch-typing methods.

Lois Nichols (2004) did some research with 3rd and 4th graders (n=84).  The students were randomly assigned to use either covered or uncovered keyboards. They received instruction 30 minutes/day for 4 weeks (10 hours) using Sunburst’s Type To Learn 3.  The software is developed to enable the students to progress independently through the program. Type to Learn 3 provides an on-screen keyboard with superimposed hands showing the students which keys to press.
It turned out that the students who had the covers on their keyboards finished the 4 weeks typing significantly faster than students who were able to watch the keys.  There was no significant difference in their levels of accuracy.

Leonard West (1967) explored the effects of depriving visual feedback when typists typed on a typewriter. Unlike the other two studies which reviewed the effects of using covers on students’ abilities to learn to keyboard faster, West did not study typing speed improvement. He asked people who could already type (9 – 118 wpm) and then measured the difference between their speed and accuracy rates with and without being able to view the keyboard. Not surprisingly, the less experienced typists experienced a high increase in errors and decrease in speed while the accomplished typists had a small increase in errors and slight decrease in speed. While this research is interesting, it doesn’t hold much relevancy for optimizing keyboarding instruction programs.

These studies that researched the effects of using covers when teaching keyboarding found that those students who couldn’t see their keyboards while they use keyboarding software learned to keyboard significantly faster than those who did not use covers. This indicates that covers can be helpful when learning to keyboard. It would be useful to engage in additional research at elementary, middle and secondary levels. The effects of using a gaming context could be further studied by using the Reagan study design with other software packages.

References:

Nichols, L. (2004) Learning to keyboard: Does the use of keyboard covers make a difference? Information Technology in Childhood Annual. 175-185.

Reagan, S. (2000) Increasing touch-keyboarding skills in the middle school student: “Keywords” vs. “type to learn.” hand covers vs. no hand covers. Masters thesis.

West., L. (1967) Vision and kinesthesis in the acquisition of typewriting skills. Journal of Applied Psychology, 51(2). 161-166.

Questions?

Contact Dr. Leigh Zeitz at Zeitz@uni.edu
Visit Keyboarding Research and Resources website: http://keyboardingresearch.org

Photo: flickr.com/photos/fadyattia/

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Keyboarding programs have reached a new level of sophistication.

Sunburst Technologies has released their latest version of Type to Learn (TTL4) and it is revolutionary.  (I must admit that I worked as a consultant to Sunburst Technologies in the development of this product, but I believe that you will agree with me when you see what it includes.)

TTL4 is a research-based keyboarding program that is designed to provide a K – 12 keyboarding curriculum. This curriculum is divided into three parts (grades K-2, 3-6, 7-12) to provide age-appropriate content and reading levels.  Using an integrated cycle of assessment, review, demonstration and practice, TTL4 uses a gaming context to introduce students to keyboarding and motivate them to learn key location and strengthen they keyboarding skills.  The students play the role of “Agents of Information” to save the world by entering and managing information efficiently and effectively.

Here is a 3-minute video demo of Type to Learn 4.

I know that this sounds like a Sunburst ad because I took some of the material directly from their marketing material but I wanted to get that introductory part out the way.  Type to Learn 4 provides a motivating learning environment for the students and an incredible management system for their teachers.  This management system enables the teachers to individualize their students’ keyboarding experience to the point where it fits the specific needs of each learner. Each child is assessed at the beginning and then placed in the lessons that are most appropriate to their keyboarding skills.  This assessment is then repeated every 6 lessons to identify each student’s accomplishment and set new, reachable goals for the keyboarder to pursue in speed and accuracy.

I want to use Type to Learn 4 by Sunburst as an example of the many features that make a good program.  I know that this sounds like I am trying to sell the program but I assure you that while I was paid to consult in its creation, I have no agreement with Sunburst where I will receive any type of further compensation based upon the sales of Type To Learn 4.   Therefore, I would like to use this product as a base from which I can describe desirable characteristic and hopefully, you will provide your own personal feedback about what you consider important in a successful keyboarding program.

Stick with me for the next few posts about successful computer programs and provide your feedback about whether you agree with me or you think that my ideas are full of holes . . .

This process will take a couple of weeks to unfold but PLEASE provide your comments.

Z

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