As technology has been pushed from the skills instruction method from a computer class to the curriculum integration model into a classroom, keyboard instruction has also been abandoned from education as a result. However the need for students to be more efficient in producing work on a computer efficiently has become increasingly more important with the move toward one-to-one computing. Until voice recognition software and hardware becomes perfected to the point where touch keyboarding is no longer necessary, keyboarding instruction should be taught as an important part of the curriculum.
Teaching keyboarding techniques are as important as teaching someone how to play the piano. If a person wants to learn to play the piano, do we just say, “just start banging on the keys and eventually you will get better?” No, of course not. You sign up your child for piano lessons with an experienced teacher. There are fingering techniques involved and memorizing the notes and learning to read music that a beginner must be able to achieve before a person can play a song without looking at the music or even begin to write their own song. So why is it so difficult for administrator’s to value the importance of teaching keyboarding in school?
Lately I have noticed an increase in elementary students who use the hunt-n-peck method. Teachers are expecting their students to type up their reports from their handwritten paragraphs to turn in for an assignment. I worry about the frustration and depression levels of elementary students who find this type of task tedious and insurmountable due to their inability to touch type without looking down at their hands every two seconds. Many students have developed bad keyboarding habits that are difficult if not impossible to break by the time they are in fourth or fifth grade. Teaching students to read is a skill that students need to know for every subject. Teaching keyboarding is just another important skill like reading that students will also use for every subject, but time and specific instruction is often not provided.
I decided to try to find some research on keyboarding to find out from those who are more knowledgeable on the subject. I found two very interesting articles. One is called, Keyboarding Research & Resources, and the other is Typewriting/Keyboarding instruction in Elementary Schools. Both of these articles articulate my thoughts on the importance of teaching keyboarding techniques, with less emphasis on accuracy and speed in the early elementary years. Research suggests that students as young as second grade can be taught keyboarding, but the emphasis should not be on accuracy and speed, but rather on the techniques necessary for promoting good keyboarding skills. There is research on why a student should repeatedly practice typing only the home row keys until those keys become almost a reflex.
“The real key to keyboarding is technique, and the theory for this pedagogy is in the realm of teachers certified to teach the subject.”Many teachers think it takes nothing to teach keyboarding,” Cruzan noted, “but they are wrong. Can anyone teach a science or math course? Its the same with keyboarding. Keyboarding is an important psychomotor skill that all students need to learn, but that fact is not being recognized. You have no idea how hard it is to untrain students coming to us at the high school level with poor technique. As a result, many students will never be good at composing straight to the computer because they cant take their eyes off the keyboard and keep them on the monitor or text! I understand that in some states, vocational certification is changing to K-12. That is a very good thing!”
After reading several articles on this subject, I have decided to start a “keyboarding club” that I will offer after school. If I can help elementary students be able to keyboarding without using the hunt-and-peck method, then I can feel like I have achieved something very worthwhile.