This post idea came from a DM (direct message) from Leigh E. Zeitz, Ph.D. on Twitter. He linked me to his blog and my readings resulted in the following post:
I teach in a K-4 building with some teachers who clamor for keyboarding lessons during Computer Lab time. I'm sorry, but I think that my time (and the students' time) is better spent on activities a little higher up on Bloom's taxonomy. I've appeased the teachers by providing a page of keyboarding links that they can use as Computer Center time in their own classrooms. Granted I buried the link at the very bottom of my home page, but it's there. :)
I'm not convinced that keyboarding should be taught at the elementary level. First, let's look at the physical aspect. Most computer set-ups use an adult sized keyboard and younger children simply do not have the handspan range to effectively reach the keys in the traditional keyboard teaching model.
"They should be provided with the basics of keyboarding and then learn to type faster than they can write (typically 11 wpm). This will allow them to have an efficient way to enter their thoughts and writings into a dynamic electronic format." (retrieved 4-22-09 from http://keyboarding.wordpress.com/dr-zs-opinion)
If you step into most elementary classrooms today, you will see that it is not a one-to-one set-up and most students still write using paper and pencil. As I reflect back upon my own electronic writing process I remember well the time I used to first write down my thoughts on paper and only then transfer it into electronic format to basically edit my writing. It is only recently that I can sit down at a keyboard and allow my thoughts to progress from my brain to my fingers, then via the keyboard onto the screen.
And let's not forget the advent of texting on cellphones. We're looking at rapid thumb moves rather than QWERTY hand positioned moves. I wonder what would happen if we removed keyboards from computer labs in middle and high schools and replaced them with cellphone style keypads. Would our students be able to 'type' faster? I believe they would. (Note to self: Hmmmm, this might make for an interesting action-research procject.)
And finally, the earliest my students will be entering college will be nine years from now. Who knows what technologies will be available to them by then. Will word processing be obsolete? (I don't believe so, but who knows?) Will the QWERTY keyboard be replaced by an input device that is much more intuitive? (I know my husband hopes so!) So as long as I remain in the Computer Lab, keyboarding will remain a link off my homepage.
So, do you believe keyboarding should be taught at the elementary level? Let your voice be heard int he 'Comments' section below. (And if you need to write out your thoughts on paper first, that's fine! LOL)
Image source: Flickr.com john_a_ward