Friday, May 1, 2015

To Keyboard or Not To Keyboard?

Do you remember "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country" or how about "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"? If you answered yes, then I am sure you took "typing" or "keyboarding" in school and are probably over the age of 30! Okay, so that may be a wild assumption, however, I have been thinking of keyboarding/typing a lot lately. I can remember in my undergraduate college days, I had to take three typing classes (yes 3!) and in order to get an A, I had to hit 90 words a minute. Now I look back and ask myself was that really worth the money per credit and did it really make me a better teacher? Granted, I can type fast on my keyboard as I write this, but I have had to "rebuild" that skill for my phone and mobile devices!

As an OLD (maybe the better word is VETERAN) keyboarding teacher, I do believe that it is a skill that is necessary in today's world. I taught "ASDF JKL;" for many, many years (just ask @CHS_Mr_F), but I know things have changed. These changes in education and technology have created some questions: how many years of keyboarding is necessary? Is it necessary if it takes away from teaching other technology? Do we wait until 4th or 5th grade when students have already had a lot of screen time? Do we solely teach a keyboarding class or implement it into the classroom?

Last week I attended the Nebraska Education Technology Association (NETA) and saw so many wonderful things our students can be learning and doing with technology. This conference is definitely a leader in educational practices to engage and increase student learning. It is not only about technology (a device, an app, or a program), it is about innovative teaching and learning, making connections, and taking a leadership role.  The keynotes and sessions were great but I thoroughly enjoyed the Maker Spaces "playground".
These students and teachers were demonstrating robots, drones, 3D printing, makey makey, legos, and so much more (presenters and topics at When I visited with some students I was so impressed with their engagement and excitement. I want this for our students! So my questions grew: do we need to teach keyboarding 4, 5, 6, and 7th grade? If a student has basic keyboarding technique and skills taught to them will their accuracy and speed increase as they use it for coding, gaming, etc? I believe it will (sorry to all the veteran keyboarding teachers out there!). I have had others say to me that these young students type fast but they are only using two fingers and their hands are not on the home keys--if they have speed and accuracy and can concentrate on the words and not individual letters does it matter if their hands are not on the home row?

I know this topic is debatable and I can see both sides. I just know that there is more to technology class today than keyboarding. Lets not miss out on some great skills for our students because we have always in the past taught keyboarding until high school. We can do both! Let's be creative and innovative!

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