Formal keyboarding is now being taught in many elementary schools, sometimes beginning in Kindergarten. One of the main reasons for teaching typing this young is the standardized tests that are now taken on computers. As educators, we want our students focused on answering the question, not spending their precious time and mental energy struggling with the typing, looking for keys, and typing so slowly that they lose their train of thought. In an article by Anne Trubek (2011) she explains this thinking, “Touch typing allows us to write without thinking about how we are writing, freeing us to focus on what we are writing, on our ideas. Touch typing is an example of cognitive automaticity, the ability to do things without conscious attention or awareness. Automaticity takes a burden off our working memory, allowing us more space for higher-order thinking.”
ISTE standard #1 for students is: “Empowered Learner- Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences”. Keyboarding is an area that is not typically thought of as having a lot of student-centered learning. Motivation, especially intrinsic motivation, can be hard to come by in a keyboarding class. However, by empowering students to direct their own learning and set goals based on their knowledge of themselves as individual learners, keyboarding can become a class that encourages active learners to demonstrate competency that fits their typing strengths and needs.
In my classroom, I have three main goals for my students with regard to keyboarding: speed, accuracy, and technique. Many others who teach keyboarding have the same three goals. Dr. Z, a leading researcher in keyboarding, agrees. In his blog, https://keyboarding.wordpress.com/, he writes “ the need for accuracy goes without discussion” and speed is key because we want typing to keep up with our students’ thinking. Interestingly, he also discusses how typing in the past was primarily used to type what someone else had written, but today it is the writer doing the typing. So matching our typing speed to our thoughts is much more important today. Lastly, Dr. Z states, “Technique involves the methods that keyboarders should use to optimize their speed and the ergonomics that will lessen physical injuries.” In my classroom, technique is also using all the fingers to type and using the “correct” finger to tap the corresponding key.
Many typing programs use speed and accuracy as a cumulative score/goal. While this is motivating for some students, it is frustrating for many others. When I have emphasized technique and told my students to not worry about their speed, some lost motivation because the speed goal was their motivation. When I shared this frustration, a fellow teacher suggested that I have students choose their own goal from the three keyboarding areas. I love this idea because, when it was suggested to me, I immediately thought of my students and could predict which students which choose which keyboarding area to focus on. Student autonomy and giving students the power to reflect on themselves as learners and use that reflection to guide their goal setting can drastically increase intrinsic motivation. In his blog, https://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-autonomy-compliance-and-intrinsic-motivation-maurice-elias, Maurice Elias writes about this, “Many empirical studies have shown that excessive control from strict, negative rules and punishments and extrinsic rewards for doing the “right thing” can achieve short-term compliance. But there are costs: it undermines intrinsic motivation, it decreases the overall quality of performance, and it connects continued performance to the availability and delivery of rewards.”
Giving students an option on what area of keyboarding to focus on requires them to consider which goal would be the best fit for them. It calls for reflection and considering themselves as a unique learner. It also allows for differentiation and unhindered growth because, within each area students can identify their own specific goal and once they meet these goals, then can increase their goal in that area (if applicable) or chose another area of keyboarding to focus on. As teacher who is delivering keyboarding instruction, my main goal is that my students are confident typers. Giving students choice on their focus area allows them to achieve confidence in that area and, once confidence is gained, it is much harder to lose.
Elias, M. (2016, February 15). Student autonomy, compliance and intrinsic motivation. Edutopia. Retrieved on (2018, January 21) from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-autonomy-compliance-and-intrinsic-motivation-maurice-elias
Iste.org. (2017) ISTE Standards for Students. (Retrieved on 2018, January 21) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-student
Trubek, A. (2011, August 15). Out of Touch with Typing. (Retrieved on 2018, January 21) from: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/425018/out-of-touch-with-typing/
Zeitz, L. (2010, May 15). It’s about Accuracy, Speed, and Technique. (Retrieved on 2018, January 21) from: https://keyboarding.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/its-all-about-accuracy-speed-and-technique/