Friday, September 7, 2007

Learning to Type

Voice recognition might very well come around to be the most effective input mechanism, but at the moment, our ability to type fast and accurately controls much of what we enter into computers.


Should typing be the number one essential instructivist skill taught in our schools?

Should it be "just-in-case" learning or "just-in-time" learning?

Should we be learning the Dvorak layout instead of the standard QWERTY?

Typing Resources

Dvorak Keyboard Layout - The Benefits and Drawbacks of a More Efficient Layout

Dvorak Keyboard Touch Typing


Ed Latham said...

I see typing as the currently most used medium in our society. Look to the postal rate increases every year to see that paper correspondences, for all but "official documents", is being done either by voice or in digital text.

In some of the schools I work in, the school starts kids as young as Pre-K on simple keyboarding. By 1-2nd grades kids are learning home rows or more. All of this is accomplished without expensive software, the teachers are not trained as typing instructors, and in most classes the students practice only 10-20 min a week! Assuming those schools are "normal" , I would propose that districts that aim to produce proficient typing students can easily start up the process.

Imagine the increase in quality writing if all students could type at least 20 words per min. Maybe, teachers would see less of the chat speak bleeding into formal English writing if students were proficient at typing. After all, if you can type 20+ words per minute does it really take any longer to type in BRB or be right back?

If I were not allowed to type, I would not be able to write at all. Ask my English teachers in High School. They were convinced that I was a very thoughtful young man, but that I lacked the ability to write well. Then check in with my college writing teachers that felt that I had a nice style to my writing. Finally, I feel that in my professional writing I am at least competent. I find that I can type incredibly faster than I can print or (shudder) dare I even think about cursive. Since I can type faster, I can keep up with my thoughts faster and hopefully keep my ideas flowing much easier because of the speed the text hits the paper. There has to be a good chunk of kids out there that have great stories, but the physical act of writing gets in the way of sharing those stories. I have a son at home that is full of stories verbally, but suffers greatly when asked to even transpose a recorded story of his.

So, I thank my High School System for forcing me to sit through one of the most boring semesters of my life listening to my teacher cheerfully chant "...J,J,space,J,J, space..." Typing may be the single most relevant skill I learned in high school, especially because the speed of typing has allowed me to go from feeling incompetent to learning a love of writing.

George Crawford said...

I don't see typing going away too soon. Voice recognition technology has improved over the past few years but still has a long way to go. Also it requires high end computer hardware something most schools are lacking in or are behind the curve on. Today's children and adults are lucky with the convience of typing. They have no White-Out to worry about and the the ability to go in and edit papers easily. Insertion and other features of word processors have made this easier. The transfer of information using the cut, copy, then paste method has its advantages and drawbacks in ease and the ability to cheat. It is nice to see in going from the typewriter user to word processing stage. The push from word processing via typing to word processing via speech recognition will be an interesting one.