My principal and I have had a few conversations of late about the role of typing in a computer rich environment. Basically, we are both pondering about what level of typing skills are needed by primary school students and what sort of support for these skills should come from the classroom. Despite the inroads of laptops and desktops within our school environment, the majority of students spend a large part of their day using the cheap and common tools of pencils, paper and pens and handwriting skills are part of the curriculum taught to enable students to be successful using those mediums.
So, I raised the issue the other night with our eLearning Committee to see what our teachers thought about the role that typing skills played within our classrooms. I heard that in reality, students have limited opportunities to use laptops and that within the scope of those limits, spending a chunk of time focussing on the formal skills of typing was not a high priority. We use a program on our network called Typing Tournament which the students really enjoy. It is low fuss, each student has their own profile that saves their progress and the game interface holds their attention. I then referred to a really useful blog post from Mike Dunlop where he airs quite a lot of very worthwhile thoughts. This is a short sample from that post:
Keyboarding is now a low stakes activity. Errors can be easily corrected with the click of a mouse. Whole paragraphs can be changed, moved and formatted during the proof-reading phase. The concept of a typing pool has all but disappeared – most adult professionals are capable of keyboarding to a level sufficient to perform their computer-related jobs independently – whether or not they took high-school typing courses.
Whenever I've looked around the web for research on either for or against keyboarding instruction in primary classrooms, I have come up essentially empty handed. Tonight, I had another browse around and found some interesting links worthy of further exploration and consideration.
Keyboarding Research & Resources (most posts seem to be very pro-keyboarding but there are pointers to research that support their chosen position).
Keyboarding skills...do we need to teach them? a post by Jacqui Sharp with some teacher resources to support some of the concepts she covers.
When Or Do We Teach Typing? by Jeff Utecht. This is more a post where Jeff explores his own perspective rather than actual describing classroom practice or citing research but there is a wealth of opinion in the comments.
Keys to the (Online) Kingdom: The Importance of Basic Computer Skills - from Edutopia.
How do YOU Teach Touch Typing? is a back and forth conversation between Linda George and her respondents on the value of a typing program schedule used by her school.
But I am interested in what other schools do and what informs your thinking behind the programs you run (or don't run) within your schools or classrooms. Any feedback is very much appreciated in the comments, with thanks in advance.
You bring up a valid point. Most of the ways my students communicate with each other, other than verbal, invovle texting and typing, yet most of our work in school is spent on paper and pencil tasks.
There are several reasons for this. One, there is limited access to technology in our building. Another is that the Missouri State Assessment, local benchmark assessments in math, scienc, and communication arts are all given in pencil and paper format. Our students must have practice using the medium in which they will be tested. There is no spell-check on a paper and pencil test, unless the student can do it themselves.
Another reason is that I think teachers are limited in thier technology knowledge. We recently had a complete day’s worth of professional development concerning the use of and how to incorporate technology into our classrooms from creating presentations on Power Point and Prezi.com to discussions on sites as edmodo.com and a wiki for our school.
I found this information interesting and of having great potential for use, but again, having access to WORKING computers at the appropriate time is difficult. There are currently 90 laptops on carts available for a student body of 560.
Is there a need for well-developed typing skills? I doubt it. “Hunt and Peck” is effective, but time consuming. I think a greater issue, in my own teaching environment is reasonable availablity of current technology that is kept in good working order.
Great food for thought.
Thanks for bringing up an issue that wasn’t even on my radar.
Many classes spend about 15 minutes every day explicitly practising handwriting, and yet most adults would spend much more time typing than writing.