The Importance of Keyboard Skills by @hengehall

The most important skill you’ve never taught

Typing is the skill which underpins so much of the computer curriculum, yet the expectations are either so low or so limited that children are simply not equipped to make the most of the technology at their disposal. Fast forward a few years. How important will handwriting be relative to typing skills be when students enter FE? How many jobs will require good keyboard skills? How much more productive will future generations be if they can touch type effectively?

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Ben Hall and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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Here are a some of extracts from the computing curriculum I am following:

Year 1/2: Use the keyboard to enter text (index fingers left and right hand).
Year 3/4: Provide opportunities for children to extend their keyboard skills.
Year 5/6: Err, that’s it.

Can anyone spot a problem?

Typing is the skill which underpins so much of the computer curriculum, yet the expectations are either so low or so limited that children are simply not equipped to make the most of the technology at their disposal. Fast forward a few years. How important will handwriting be relative to typing skills be when students enter FE? How many jobs will require good keyboard skills? How much more productive will future generations be if they can touch type effectively?

After a term and a half of seeing children using at best two fingers and at worst one I decided to tackle the issue head-on. The light bulb moment came when I realised that in an hour long weekly computing sessions it was unlikely that most children could complete a 100 word challenge. Not because they can’t come up with ideas or construct the text. They can. They can’t type quickly or accurately enough for the work to reflect their talent and ability.

In our school we have a whole school approach to handwriting and teachers are encouraged to teach regular sessions, and pick up on handwriting and presentation in all subject areas. Is there any reason why we should not apply the same standards to typing and digital presentation. None of the children in the year 3 and 4 classes I have worked with this week has ever been taught typing before.

Children should be introduced to touch typing at the earliest possible age. By embedding skills at an early age, children will not have the opportunity to pick up poor habits which are so much harder to unpick.

Whilst it may seem daunting, this is not a challenge we should be afraid of, and there are a number of easy, practical things we can all do. Here are some ideas.

  • Agree a whole school approach – touch typing should be introduced in KS1, and the earlier the better
  • Use resources that are already out there, such as the excellent BBC dance mat typing game. This can be used by children of all ages
  • Use typing as a starter activity when using ICT
  • Model good typing
  • Introduce a typing challenge/competition in your class or key stage
  • Use digital leaders to promote typing skills in your school
  • Give children the opportunity to type!

After just a couple of days, I have found that all children really want to improve their skills and actually enjoy learning to type.

I think this could turn out to be the most productive week of the year!


Ben Hall is a Computing teacher and coordinator. Creator of The Blog Exchange, bringing classes together worldwide. Amateur astronomer and cyclist.

 

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