Why should YOU teach keyboarding? This is the most important question that you and your curriculum designers can ask when you are making decisions about your keyboarding teaching strategies.
I just received an email from Linda George who teaches in a school district in New Hampshire. Their district is in the midst of considering a change in their keyboarding curriculum. They have been using Type to Learn 3 to teach keyboarding in 3rd grade everyday for 4 weeks. They are considering extend this 20-day, 4-week instruction unit to a 20-week, once-a-week process. In an effort to discuss and consider this dilemma, Mrs. George created a wiki for discussion, How Do YOU Teach Touch Typing? This wiki contains some interesting responses from teacher and students. You should go there and place your own response.
Here’s my point of view on this question:
Why should we teach keyboarding? We teach keyboarding to build students’ skills in using computers. We teach them skills so that they will be more efficient when they write papers, emails and even blogs.
The biggest contradiction that we have in our schools is that we teach our students how to keyboard but expect them to write use pencils and paper in their classrooms. I understand that it’s costly to provide computers or portable keyboards for students to use in class, but it would make learning much more efficient and give more purpose to teaching keyboarding. I have already written about this in another posting on this blog.
What about teaching keyboarding once a week instead of 4 straight weeks? It’s a waste of time.
Remember that keyboarding is a psycho-motor athletic ability. How much would you learn about playing baseball if you only played it for 40 minutes once a week. Verrrrry Little.
If you played baseball 40 minutes a day for 4 weeks, you could develop a foundation of playing skills that you could use for the rest of the season. As you play for the rest of the season, you will be able to further refine your abilities. Taking 20 weeks to learn how to keyboard is an experiment in futility. Does this mean that students will only be able to write papers that use the homerow keys for the first month? It is a situation where educators can say that students are being taught to keyboard but taking 5 months to learn to keyboard wastes most of the school year.
I think that we often forget why we are teaching keyboarding. It is a living skill that our students need to learn in 3rd grade so that they will be able to work effectively and efficiently.
How many people touch type?
That is a good question. One of my readers recently stated that she had found a statistic on the web that said only “10% of Americans touch type.” I doubted this and asked for her resources and she said that she had “just seen it on the web a few years ago.”
So, I tried to answer the question as well. I didn’t unearth anything. I even asked a resource librarian to help me and he didn’t find much.
Looked in Answers.com (GREAT Search engine) under WPM and found this “In one study of average computer users, the average rate for transcription was 33 words per minute, and only 19 words per minute for composition. In the same study, when the group was dividing into “fast”, “moderate” and “slow” groups, the average speeds were 40 wpm, 35 wpm, and 23 wpm respectively. Two-finger typists, sometimes also referred to as “Hunt-and-Peck” typists can reach speeds of about 37 wpm for memorized text, and 27wpm when copying text.
An average typist reaches 50 to 70 wpm, while some positions can require 80 to 95 (usually the minimum required for dispatch positions and other typing jobs), and some advanced typists work at speeds above 120.”
Imagine that!!!!! Hunt and pecking at 37 WPM? That’s 185 keystrokes per minute or 3 strokes per second. Not too fast for an unskilled laborer. =-)
Anywho, what do you think? What do you know? What do you see in your classroom? How fast do you type over there in Japan?
Share your ideas in these comments.
There is a conflict between writing and keyboarding. The question is which needs to be taught and when? Does keyboarding overshadow handwriting to the extent that handwriting should no longer be taught?
Handwriting is an essential skill. There are many times that we need to write so it is imperative for students to learn to write in elementary school. Do students need to be taught both manuscript AND cursive? I don’t think so. It doesn’t make sense to teach them how to “print” their ideas in 1st and 2nd grade and then how to “handwrite” them in 4th and 5th grade. Teaching cursive writing is merely a way to teaching students to write quickly. Perhaps keyboarding has taken the place of cursive because it enables students to enter their thoughts even faster than they would if they were using cursive.
Keyboarding is an essential skill. The students are learning to interact with computers at an early age. This interaction may be primarily mouse control with some keyboard input. It is important for them to learn to keyboard properly at an early age so as to minimize bad habits that will develop through unguided learning.
Keyboarding can be introduced in the early grades but it should be seriously pursued in the third grade. This is the grade where they have developed enough language skills to require keyboarding. After all, keyboarding is used to create words, so students need to be competent with the written language to have a reason to keyboard. Eight years olds have also developed the manual dexterity required to keyboard efficiently.
The most important reason for teaching keyboarding is to improve students’ writing. Keyboarding allows us to compose at the keyboard as we enter our thoughts into the dynamic world of word processing. Word processing has changed the way we think when we write. It enables students to mold their ideas into expressive writing. Unlike handwritten composition, the students can spend time worrying about the content rather than the formation of letters on paper. Revision can now be a fluid part of writing rather than the laborious process of scratching a Bic pen across a sheet of college-ruled paper.
The biggest problem that schools face is a disconnectedness between what they teach and what they practice. Schools often spend a great deal of time teaching students to keyboard at the elementary levels, but all of their composing is done with a pencil and paper. This begs the question of “Why teach keyboarding?” Students need to be provided with laptops or at least word processing keyboards so that they can use their developed skills on a daily rather than a weekly basis.
There are several benefits in learning to keyboard:
- The most obvious advantage is that students use keyboards to input their ideas into a computer and they use computers continuously to communicate. Efficient keyboarding skills improve the communication process. These are skills that will help them now and throughout their lives.
- There is some research that shows typing/keyboarding can improve students’ spelling skills. (http://tinyurl.com/2vaj3s) There isn’t enough to be conclusive it shows a tendency.
- Students with learning difficulties including dyslexia or dysgraphia find it easier to type than write because the letters automatically go from left to right and they don’t need to worry about writing them backwards.
In the end, handwriting and keyboarding are both important skills to know. Handwriting is necessary for day-to-day activities. Today’s world, however, requires us to be efficient keyboarders to interact and communicate with others through technology. It augments the writing process by enabling students to enter their thoughts and then mold their words into crafted sentences.
What do student think about this? Kate Olson who is a 4th and 6th grade keyboarding teacher asked her 6th grade students to blog on Writing vs Typing on her Keying In blog. See what they have to say.
There is no reason in the world that fourth graders shouldn’t be able to key at 20 WPM. The typical 9 year old child handwrites at about 16 WPM so if you can get them to keyboard faster than that, they are ahead of the game. The reader can read it AND it’s in the dynamic world of word processing which means that their work can be easily revised and improved. This supports the improvement of writing skills as well as keyboarding skills.
The biggest problem that I see in keyboarding instruction that does not occur in a regular computer class (this means a class that is scheduled for the students to attend daily) is TOK (Time On Keyboard). How much time do your students get to use the keyboards? How much time do they practice their work? How many of them are practicing at home (for all of their possible negative aspects, chatrooms are wonderful practice places.)
I believe that we need to reconceptualize the reason for 8 year olds to keyboard. They aren’t preparing themselves for jobs as secretaries where they type a handwritten letter from their boss. We are preparing our students to use computers to communicate in an on-line world. This means that they need to be able to compose at the keyboard in a real time situation.
How fast is fast enough?
The big question about evaluating keyboarding is “What is the optimal speed?” “How many WPM should we expect of a third grader?” I say that since keyboarding should be seen as an alternative to handwriting, then we should give them a target of 1 word faster then they can handwrite. I have read that the average 4th grader handwrites about 14 words per minute. That means that 4th graders should key at about 15 WPM. You can also test each individual and set individual goals.
It’s not about training secretaries for typing pools any longer. You may remember (or heard about) the times when secretaries typed what bosses scrawled on a piece of paper. Now, people use keyboarding as a primary form of composing. They write what they think as they think it. This means that it is replacing handwriting.
The advantage to keyboarding, however, is that when a student keys a story into a word processor it is in a dynamic work that can be easily changed. This means that revision is simpler. The key to teaching writing is to write and revise and write again. This means that in this environment students can become better writers quicker.
Keyboarding programs at the elementary levels should be designed to provide skills that make writing faster and more efficient. Students will not learn how to keyboard if they only get to a computer lab 2 times a week for 20 minutes. They need to have constant access to keyboards and compose their creative writing assignment on-line.
Dr. Z (12/2007)
At an IEMA (Iowa Educational Media Association) conference, Dr. Z did a presentation on the Teaching Keyboarding at the Elementary Level: What the Research Says.
In this presentation, Dr. Z discussed a variety of methods and issues involved in teaching keyboarding and what the research says about this. You will find the PowerPoint presentation on Slideshare at this site.