One of the interesting educational issues that has changed over the last twenty years is the need for students to learn how to type. Typing classes are not new, but their place in the curriculum has gone from being an elective in high school to a necessity for college and career. In fact, it isn’t even called typing anymore. You won’t find “Typing 101,” but rather “Keyboarding” in school districts’ program of studies.
I learned to type on an old manual typewriter, the kind that you had to swing the bar across the page to start a new line. In fact, I might have learned on the same typewriter my mother used when she was in high school. We both had the same teacher, Mrs. Green. She taught at our hometown high school for over thirty years. Though she remained committed to the old-style typewriters, her classroom enrollment changed significantly over the course of her career. When my mother learned to type, it was mostly all young ladies planning to be secretaries. By the time I had Mrs. Green, typing was taken by almost everyone as a prerequisite for the much sought after computer classes on campus.
Traditionally, typing was a high school class you took depending on your career choice. For example, those who wanted to go into nursing, management, or building trades didn’t necessarily “need” to take a typing class. That was before the global technology boom of the 1990s. The arrival of personal computers in almost every home and office made typing a basic skill that every student needed to learn. Most would agree, a quality education in 2014 must include keyboarding.
For large districts, the solution is to hire a “keyboarding instructor” who has a schedule full of keyboarding classes for different skill levels (for example, “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” and “Advanced”). For smaller districts, the challenge is where and how to fit it into an already severely limited schedule.
Currently, learning to keyboard in the CRSD is incorporated into other classes. Many teachers in the district use a program called “All the Right Type” for keyboarding practice. Though this has worked for some students, we agree with many parents who have requested a more focused approach to keyboarding instruction.
While we develop recommendations for a keyboarding scope and sequence, we are also making a helpful resource available to teachers and parents. “All the Right Type” is a typing tutor program that has been used in our district and many others for years. The program is available online for any of our students. Our license-agreement allows us to assign a log-in for every student that can be used at school or online at home. The program is designed to work for students at any grade level. Your student can access the program from home by going to the Students & Parents section of the CRSD website. If your student does not know or forgot their login information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request access.
New state regulations are another important factor in this discussion. Keyboarding will be an issue with the arrival of Alaska Department of Education and Early Development’s (DEED) new computer-based standardized test for grades 3-10. Districts across Alaska will be revisiting their approach to keyboarding instruction in order to prepare students to participate in computerized writing assessments mandated by DEED.
So what about handwriting? Next week in this space, I will address that question. Even as we prepare students for an increasingly technological world, there are very important reasons for maintaining a rigorous commitment to teaching students print and cursive. Next week I’ll explain why.
Use the comment section below to share your suggestions for what grade keyboarding instruction should start or a story from your experience learning to type.