Typing Lessons in Schools – Good Vs Bad?
This short reflection has been written to stir some thoughts in my readers. I want to hear your opinions, thoughts and feelings about the use of typing programs in schools.
I have been in a variety of educational organisations utilising a variety of curriculums and a variety of tools to support learning. I have seen many tools get introduced with the intention of better support student learning and all too often they fail. It is almost always because of either a lack of drive from staff, a lack of knowledge from staff or a lack of skill / interest from students.
The skill / interest of students is what I am discussing today. How important is the skill of typing in the 21st century environment that we live in? Is it important for the world that we are educating our students for? That question, I don’t know.
One of the most frustrating parts of our 1:1 device program is the lack of typing skills from students coming through. We are not an apple school, we have laptops and utilise many programs and online tools that require typing. In the Middle School we run a Secondary timetable so students have 45-60 minute lessons for different subjects throughout the day (this can be great, but often very limiting). During these short spurts of learning time, it is important for students not to get left behind. Often tasks require students to type efficiently, either through research, creating, making, coding, publishing etc. All too often I see students coming into Year 5 (9-10 years old) with a typing speed of less then 10 WPM (words per minute).
To counter this my school has introduced a typing program called “Typing Agent” from Year 3. Students spend time in class (2-3x 5-8 minute sessions a week) learning the skills of typing, they learn ergonomics, hand position and tips and tricks to save time. In 3 months I have been tracking the progress of students and 92% of students have (at least) doubled their typing speed, with an incredible 41% of students tripling their speed. We have several students typing at more than 60 words per minute now, which is really pleasing to see. The students love the interactive games based program.
We chose this program because of its game based nature, levelled learning and curriculum-linked activities. The program even creates games to support the student’s weak areas as they learn, customising it for them. It is a paid subscription, but very cheap and well worth the money.
One thing that we have taken away from this program is that students from Year 5 no longer need the typing program once they have got their typing speed up to approximately 25 WPM which makes time use for teachers more efficient. From 2015, we will be using typing agent from Year 2-Year 4.
The question in my mind still remains. Is typing a skill that students require to be effective lifelong learners and leaders when they leave school? We don’t know what technology will be available in the future. What we do know is that typing is still an important skill that we need in the world we live in today, and if typing makes learning more efficient and easier then to me it is a skill that is of benefit.
I would love to hear your thoughts. I am on the fence with this one and need to hear what other educators think so please tweet me or post your thoughts below. I look forward to hearing from you.