Monday, November 10, 2014

Keyboarding - A Lost Art

Everyone, at one point or another in their life, will encounter typing on a keyboard. It may be on a desktop, a laptop, or even the Qwerty keyboard on a smartphone. By the time kids get to me, they have at least 2 years of hunting and pecking solidified in their brains. Philosophically, I feel keyboarding should be taught at an early age. The lack of computer access, coupled with the amount of content covered in a classroom, often negates the opportunity for students to consistently learn how to type using home keys prior to middle school.

The necessity of formal keyboarding is a topic of debate in the technology community. Some of the points in opposition to formal adherence of keying with specific fingers center around the different types of technology students access with a keyboard. Expecting a student to use both hands housed over home keys is not possible due to the size of the keyboard when using a smartphone or smaller tablet. Additionally, others feel that students have learned informal typing well before the start of actual keyboarding in school. I support both sides of the argument, and organize my keyboarding class to recognize that some students have developed a typing technique once they get to the middle school.

Keyboarding programs and websites are commonplace today, so the need to teach typing by a book is obsolete. Our county purchased a program years ago called Microtype Pro, and that is the only typing program at my middle school that can be accessed when the internet is down. Last year, our server was out of commission for at least 2 solid months. We could use one login for every student and hit the internet, but any program housed on the server was inaccessible.

On Edmodo last spring, someone posted about a typing site they used. I actually checked it out when I had free time, and I fell in love with the ease of use. I created an account but did not actually begin using the program until the start of this school year. Necessity is the mother of all invention, and my 6th grade keyboarding students could not log in to our server. (Surprise!) We used a generic login, and my relationship with Typing Club sprang into life.

After 2 months of use, I was notified that my trial account would flip over into the free version, which meant I would gain all kinds of ads and lose my ability to create typing tests. When I checked into the actual cost of the program, I found that I could easily fund 60 student accounts to last me through the year. 

I will be blogging about my successes and failures while using this program online. If you are looking for an alternative way to teach keyboarding to your students, I recommend this program wholeheartedly.

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