It wasn’t not too long ago that typing was ubiquitous in computer class. Typing curriculum programs were an important focus of technology instructors who knew the burgeoning technological landscape meant students would need to be able to keyboard—and keyboard effectively—to get ahead.
Why, then, have some schools recently opted out of teaching keyboarding at all?
One reason, according to forlorn parents online, is that typing isn’t required on standardized tests. With the pressure of higher test scores mounting, typing fell by the wayside—if it isn’t tested, it isn’t needed, right?
However, more and more standardized tests are moving online. In fact, even SAT testing is digitizing. Students without typing skills will be left even further behind if (and when) these tests move online since their performance will be hindered by their ability to use a computer. This is true not only in education, but in job performance as well: the ability to type, and to type effectively, will either help or hinder a student’s ability to achieve in environments dependent on technology.
The Myth of the Digital Native
Many children now are being exposed to keyboards long before they can even read fluently. Educators see these students typing away on cell phones and assume these children, who have had so much technological experience even leading up to their early school years, have naturally picked up technology skills including keyboarding. Hence the term “digital native.”
However, the “Myth of the Digital Native” is called a myth for a reason. Even though students can type on phones and tablets, much of this typing relies on search-and-peck tactics, autocorrect, abbreviations, or the use of emojis, gifs, and other visual communication. There’s also voice-to-text technology that is becoming prevalent not only in younger generations, but in older generations as well.
When these “digital native” keyboarding skills are put to the test, educators find that there’s no use of home row keys, that students are dependent on looking down at their hands and the keys, and that typing with two thumbs on a smartphone simply doesn’t translate to being able to type effectively on a computer.
The Way We Type Matters
While “digital native” students may have picked up their own typing styles because of their exposure to cell phone and tablet touch pads, these skills rarely include touch typing (typing without looking at the keyboard). Touch typing in a digital world, however, is a critical skill.
“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,” says Anne Trubek, a writer and editor who was previously on faculty at Oberlin College.
In short, touch typing allows students to type without thinking about typing where search-and-peck typing requires multitasking that interrupts a student’s thought process, making the execution of the process slower and less effective.
Keyboarding is a Gateway Tool
While keyboarding words per minute (WPM) may not make it onto professional resumes anymore, the ability to type—and type effectively—is critical to a wide range of other digital skills.
There’s no doubt that the professional world is becoming more digitally dependent. Students’ careers may include the spreadsheets, databases and word documents of today’s typical job duties, but they’re also likely to include artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented reality, blockchains and other technology we haven’t even conceptualized yet. As of now, most of these technologies rely on code, commands, or communication using a traditional QWERTY keyboard. Lacking typing skills, then, won’t just make it more difficult for students to write an email quickly and effectively, it will hinder their ability to interact with essential technology in a competitive job market.
Our Responsibility as Educators
Our responsibility as educators is a heavy one. We are tasked with preparing students with knowledge, skills, and mindsets that prepare them for future careers (often with the knowledge that we, as educators, may have no idea what those future careers might be). In 2023, at least, we can say that with the current trajectory of technology, keyboarding skills are still quite critical in education.
Learning.com’s Adaptive Keyboarding Program
Put your digital natives to the test with a typing curriculum that adapts to their current skill sets. Instead of putting each student through the inflexible rhythm of “Lesson 1, Lesson 2” typing programs, our adaptive keyboarding program adjusts practice, drills, test questions, and intervention to meet a child at their current level. Learn more about our adaptive keyboarding program or try it free today by clicking the button below.
Founded in 1999, Learning.com provides educators with solutions to prepare their students with critical digital skills. Our web-based curriculum for grades K-12 engages students as they learn keyboarding, online safety, applied productivity tools, computational thinking, coding and more.
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