I have worked in technology education for 25 years. I started out as a business education teacher and eventually evolved into a technology educator - initially probably more out of a desire to survive and have a job than out true love and understanding of technology. During the past 25 years, I have had the opportunity to teach all grade levels - K-adult. I have seen the attitude toward teaching keyboarding go from "it's essential" to "why are we spending millions to use a computer as a keyboard?" I am getting the feeling that the philosophy about keyboarding is about to come full circle as teachers complain that the majority of students do not have the ability to be "fluent" - meaning that the student is able type/key at a speed equal to their ability to mentally compose. While some students are able to adapt and come up with their own version of "touch typing" - the consensus among teachers in my district is that the majority of their students are unable to develop this skill on their own.
I am interested in finding out if other school districts are coming to the realization that many students cannot learn typing on their own and how being proficient in this skill enhances their chances for academic success in many other areas. Remember in the "olden days" - typing teachers taught much more than key location. They also taught document format, punctuation and documentation rules and much more. Obviously, in the world of computer technology, the curriculum for a keyboarding course would be much different and of course, waiting until high school to teach this skill is no longer appropriate; however, neither is trying to teach it in Kindergarten. But, I have a whole other rant that I will save for another day regarding wasting time and money on projects that a teachers/schools can document in their lesson plans as "technology integration" that are not developmentally appropriate and have insignificant lasting skill or intellectual benefit to students. In business, this would be called cost ineffective. In education, we call it "we've been doing it this way and will continue until the money runs out."
I believe this and many other technology decisions need to be backed by research. There seems to be a disconnect between the completion of education research and then its uptake in the classroom. The medical industry seems to accept an "research driven" approach whereas in education it seems to be sorely lacking.
I feel that when education technology use is driven by attitudes and not research, we will for ever see flip-flopping directives...
A while back, I was curious about Keyboarding in the Primary grades so I looked into the research completed on this topic. Here is what I found:
Thanks for your reply S. Lister. It is very difficult to find unbiased research in this area. Computer companies want to sell computers, software companies want to sell software, academics want to publish articles, etc. I have been researching and testing online keyboarding software. I am looking for a product for my school district that can be utilized with 3rd - 5th grade students. I have found a few fairly good online typing program - but I have also found a few really awful program that demonstrate a total lack of understanding and acceptance that keyboarding is a psychomotor skill requiring a certain level of developmental maturity. We wouldn’t ask 1st graders to read Shakespeare. Why do we ask them to type documents when they do not have the motor skills to do so until the second half of 3rd grade? I have found Jane Healy's research very interesting. Her focus is on understanding why a growing number of students struggle so in school. Her insights on stress and brain disruptors is very interesting and makes one wonder if introducing technology at such an early age is truly beneficial for the child. While it make be impressive to have a nursery school full of smartboards and computers - is it really cost-effective in the long run. Does it really make a difference?
I've seen lots of cool things in newsletters and at conferences. Too often I have followed up to find that the cool and innovative idea is executived on a very limited basis and does not seem to have lasting value. As for kids eventually doing all their work with them thumbs - I'd like to be open-minded about this concept but I guess I'm just too old and jaded because it sounds ridiculous to me. Hopefully, I won't be around to see what I would consider a regression of human evolution where students had no need for any figure other than a thumb.