Keyboarding

There are times when it’s tough to be a teacher.  It’s even worse when you were a former Business Education Director and your friends know about it.  My friend, in this case is a public librarian.  On a recent visit, she showed me something that really frustrated her.

In the computer nook, there was a secondary school student who was trying his best to enter an essay into the computer.  He was using the technique fondly known as “hunting and pecking” and it was painfully slow.

Then comes the inevitable comment – “This is what happens when we take a valuable life skill like typing out of the curriculum.”  In my best diplomatic voice, I explained that we had dropped the word “typing” in favour of “keyboarding” a long time ago.  I received one of those librarian stares because she knew I was splitting hairs.  I knew what she was getting at and resisted the urge to ask her to look at the students cursive writing while she was on a roll.

But it is tough.

While the keyboarding aspect to curriculum is gone for most students, the elements of education that actually require the skill (like keyboarding an essay) remain in the curriculum.  The result is the hunter and pecker that eventually gets the job done.  I’d be willing to bet that things would have been faster if the student was able to text the essay.  But then, there’s the time it takes and the inevitable suggesting spelling making inappropriate suggestions.

This is the 21st century though.  Voice recognition has never been better, right?  Could you imagine how “good” it would be in a class of 30 with everyone dictating an essay to their device all at the same time.  Well, there’s always the library.  Keep it under the shush level and you’ll be good.  I’m told the shushing doesn’t come from the librarian anymore; just from the other patrons who look for the library as a place of quiet.

Surely, you must have a suggestion for a computer program to help out with learning to keyboard.  I pulled out my phone to my set of bookmarks and offered up 10fastfingers.com.  It’s an interesting challenge.

Students, certainly at the secondary school level, don’t want to start at the basics.

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For the most part, they know where the keys are.  They just need practice accessing them.  I read a report once that indicated that hunters and peckers can work themselves up to a speed of 20 words a minute without too much of a hassle but then reach that ceiling where only a good technique lets them break through.

I hadn’t tested myself for a while so I sat down and tried a test.

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Hey, 57 wpm isn’t bad.  I even got a badge for my efforts.

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I had to leave so I really don’t know how this particular story ends.

But, I’d be interested in your thoughts, kind reader, about keyboarding.

  • Does it have a place in today’s classroom?
  • What are the challenges students face without the skill?

Maybe, I should have saved this post for a Sunday for my “whatever happened to” series.

Your thoughts?

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4 Replies to “Keyboarding”

  1. I thought that I also blogged on this topic, but I can’t find the post. I’ve never been a big fan of teaching typing as a separate skill. I didn’t take a class when I was little, but instead, learned to type while doing. At my best, I could type 85 words a minute using 4 fingers: 3 on one hand and 1 on the other. Blogging helped me learn to type faster. I saw the same thing when I taught a 1/2 class that blogged. Now Siri makes us all type WAY faster, but that may be another post altogether. 🙂 I’m just not a fan of learning skills out of context, and providing drill and kill practice. But is it needed here? I wonder if there are more meaningful ways to teach this skill. Games can be fun, but is there a limit to them? Curious to hear what others do.

    Aviva

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  2. The original Grade 9 keyboarding course was about learning the skill and the application to all areas of curriculum. If you extend the logic, any subject area has skill levels that need to be learned.

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  3. In Grade 9, I chose Typing but got Music! So, for 5 years of high school I played violin. I wrote my essays in University or had my mother ( who did take typing) type them. Fast forward to my computer days… I still do a multi fingered hunt and peck and I can go fairly quickly but I know my skills are lacking at best.
    Had I known in Grade 9 that I would need typing or keyboarding skills, I would have done more practice on our typewriter and not my violin!
    Perhaps a proficiency test for those who claim to have great skills and a few classes for those who hunt and peck, might be a good path? It definitely needs to be addressed and to assume that all students come to high school with the same skill set would be naïve or even foolish.
    I have spent more time on a keyboard than I ever have playing a violin !

    Liked by 1 person

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