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

Dr. Z’s Opinion

I have always had an interest in keyboarding. It is the primary form of input for computer today and it is still chiefly taught at the high school level. What about the students in the earlier 8 grades? What should they do while they are waiting to go to high school where they can learn how to type? Would you believe that there are actually courses at the secondary level entitled “Keyboarding 2”? How long does it take to learn to type?

Typing is important and everyone should be able to type at least 40 words a minute. This sort of speed allows the user to flow with a train of thought as it comes. It doesn’t mean that 40 wpm will be attained in typing class, but if students are given a solid foundation in keyboarding, their speed will develop as they keyboard their ways through life. Does this mean that 8 year olds should type at 40 wpm? No. They should be provided with the basics of keyboarding and then learn to type faster than they can write (typically 11 wpm). This will allow them to have an efficient way to enter their thoughts and writings into a dynamic electronic format. Editing and revising are necessary for improving writing and are much easier to do in a word processor than on paper.

The typing model should be turned on its head. Keyboarding classes at the high school level should be moved down to the elementary levels. The business/keyboarding teachers will all cry “But what will I teach?” I quickly respond with “Business Communications”. Don’t worry about the skills of typing. That will be handled at the earlier grades so the students will learn how to type correctly when they first need it. Teach the refined art of business communication. Explore the formats for letters, email, faxes, voicemail, graphics, etc. There are so many forms of communication that are used in business communiqués that there will be no end of material. AND the most exciting part of it is that you will actually be able to make the class applicable to real life by running a business (mock or real) that requires all of these communications. It would be a class that students would relish rather than a catch-up elective that goes begging for students.

You will find a number of articles in this blog that can provide you with background research for making your own curricular decisions. I have also included software reviews, downloadable free/shareware software (remember that you usually pay what it’s worth), and recommendations for the keyboarding hardware. This is not an exhaustive list of research and resources. PLEASE contact me with your suggestions and/or experiences concerning keyboarding.

Contact me if you have any opinions on teaching keyboarding or anything at all.

Leigh E. Zeitz, Ph.D.
University of Northern Iowa


Comments on: "Dr. Z’s Opinion" (12)

  1. I put together all the best typing games I could find online — one page of easy games and one page of harder games — they’re fun, and they’re all in one place — no sign-ups, no scary ads.


  2. Check out this link for my compiled list of keyboarding resources. The main difference is that this list includes only activities not blocked by our school district filter! That’s the main issue with most free typing activities online…….


  3. good for me

  4. I found your blog while searching for keyboarding standards by grade level. Our district tech committee is pushing to adopt keyboarding requirements (standards) for 3-8 grades.

    I agree with everything you say about why younger kids need keyboarding training. In addition… our state standardized test is quickly moving in the direction of assessing everything online including writing. I understand that many states are heading in the same direction. This means our students MUST learn to keyboard in order to meet the requirements of the test!

    Thanks for listing some resources… I am going to check them all out.

  5. […] July 5, 2009 at 3:08 pm · Filed under Uncategorized and tagged: extra_computer_in_classroom, keyboarding, research I found “Dr. Z” and his blog recently – he has really put some time into researching best practices regarding keyboarding instruction in the elementary schools – keep in mind he conducted some research for Sunburst, developers of the ‘Type2Learn’ series. Find his blog here. […]

  6. George Kennedy said:

    I bought Yours book “Keyboarding Made Simple” and in instruction section You
    wrote “….or go to http://www.keyboardingresearch.org, where you can download
    a color version, print it out, and use it.” I visit the http://www…..and I can”t find
    the spot from which I can download the keyboard – color version.
    Please tell me how I can do it.

    Sincerely : George Kennedy

    September 10.2009.

  7. Marie Naulty said:

    Hello Dr. Zeitz,
    I wanted to ask your opinion about first grade students learning how to touch type, with their hands on the home row keys and doing the program “Dance Mat Typing” on the BBC Schools website. Do you think first grade students are too young, both physically and mentally? I am a Computer Technology teacher at Collegium Charter School in Exton, Pennsylvania and we use Type to Learn Jr. for Kindergarten students and Type to Learn 3 for second and third grade students on our system.
    Thank you.
    Marie E. Naulty

  8. Marie,

    Good questions.

    I must admit that I don’t know about 1st graders learning touch typing. It’s a good idea for them to become acquainted with the location of the keys. They will be using computers…that is a reality. This is not something you will grade for proficiency. It will be something where you involve them to facilitate their using computers.

    Using Type To Learn is a good idea. Have you seen Type To Learn 4? It is really good. I must admit that I was a consultant in creating it – but it is GOOD. it has been designed for 1st graders through adult. There are 3 built-in levels so that the younger students will use simpler text. One of the advantages of this version is that it is online so that students can practice at home.


    I have used Dance Mat Typing as well. You will find some links to a wiki I made for using Dance Mat Typing in my Keyboarding Blog. Just roam through the postings.

    Good luck,


    I hope that this is useful.

  9. I spent over 15 years in the elementary classroom. Keyboard mastery in the elementary grades has been my passion for many years. It amazes me that in this day and age; keyboard mastery is still not considered a basic literacy skill and taught seriously by more schools in the country. It’s been my experience that most elementary schools have a computer-lab based model, where students go through a weekly rotation and do a bit of practice on a piece of software. Though the program may be sophisticated and the graphics interesting, the weekly, now and then structure of the program is rarely successful.

    A classroom-based model…one which provides brief daily practice, delivered by a simple, focused, instructional tool like the Writer is the best approach for those serious about keyboard mastery (and best use of their technology resources).

    Joel Stark
    Writer Learning

  10. Rennie Galbraith said:

    I could not find the small color keyboard diagram mentioned in “Keyboarding made Simple”. Can you help?

  11. Hi everyone,
    I currently type 27 wpm (I look at the keyboard while I type. I guess I use the about 8 fingers but not the correct positions).. I wanna type fast so I have been searching for the perfect programs. I’ve spent hours upon hours doing this. I’m very undecisive. I’m currently confused between going with Almena VS. Mavis Beacon. My primary concerns are saving time in learning how to type and actual typing on the short and long term, and I want to be able to practise on imported documents (which beacon provides)and I wanna make sure that I know how much I’m progressing and whther I’m doing something wrong. any idea?

  12. Wow! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

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