Ask Otto / classroom management / Keyboarding

Dear Otto: Do Students Still Need to Learn Keyboarding?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Joe :

I am a tech teacher at my school, and I just got word that the admin want to discuss eliminating “teaching kids to type”. She feels it is not an important skill to teach our “tech savvy” kids. This stems from the idea that many devices have virtual keyboards instead of physical keyboards. While I have my check-list of the reasons why typing is important for kids to learn, I also want to collect ideas and reasons from other experts in the field. Any research based data would be great too.Thanks for your help,

Before I answer Joe, I need to send a shout-out to my son, Sean, in Kuwait, as he defends America’s liberties–HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Back to my regularly scheduled post…

Hi Joe

The assumption of those who follow that line of thought is that technology can be self-taught, learned by doing. Just as it doesn’t work with piano or basketball, students who receive no direction in typing end up with bad habits that slow them down by the time they’re in middle school and need speed and accuracy for homework demands. If no one tells them otherwise, they think it’s fine to hunt-and-peck with two fingers (maybe that’s how dad does it) or type with their thumbs (the newest approach, thanks to texting). These students will struggle to deliver quality content for essays, reports, and high school and college applications. Where opinions are more and more forged by words on a screen–not by personal interaction or real-world connections (thanks to social media like FB and blogs)–these students will be found inferior.
All because they didn’t learn good habits when they started typing.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Here’s some research.
There will come a day when keyboarding is replaced with verbal commands, but not today, or next week. Or next year. Our students still need the rigor of touch typing.
Let me know how it works out.

Readers: This is my most oft-asked questions. All across the country, keyboarding is under attack as old fashioned, unnecessary, a skill that can be learned without teaching. What are your thoughts?

To ask Otto a question, fill out the form below:

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculumK-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blogger, a columnist for, featured blogger for Technology in EducationIMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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10 thoughts on “Dear Otto: Do Students Still Need to Learn Keyboarding?

  1. It may well be that a new technique for touch typing will be developed-It seems highly improbable that the same method that was developed for a mechanical typewriter will be the most efficient for a touch screen device. However it also seems to me even more improbable that someone using two thumbs or two fingers to type will out perform someone using 8 or 10 digits.

    Research is hard to come by. However in my school, for 2 years in a row my class did strict typing practice in 6 week burst throughout the year, and other classes in my grade did not. By year end, my classes average was 39 WPM and the rest of the grade were in the mid 20’s.

    As an end note-voice recognition will never replace keyboarding. Decent speech to text application have been around for at least 10 years now, and they are still seldom used.

    Ever heard of a thing called “Siri?” 🙂

    • Very interesting info from your classroom. It’s what I tell parents–if their students practice, they will get keyboarding. Glad so see it happened for you.

      Audio input has serious drawbacks, not the least being the noisy classroom. Maybe it will become one tool of many that enhances education. I use Siri often for text messages, emails, but not in a crowded room!

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Thanks for posting your blog. The question of typing on iPads is excellent. So far, I tell parents typing must be done traditionally. I’m going over to see what you’ve discovered.

  2. Pingback: About Keyboarding | doug --- off the record

  3. Reblogged this on OT's with Apps and commented:
    One of the interventions as an OT working in the school system includes supporting students with the acquisition of keyboarding skills. This may be due to motor, sensory, behavioral/cognitive challenges. As use of electronic devices, texting and a very full curriculum, the question of teaching keyboarding often arises. Ask a Tech Teacher provides her insights as well as a link to a list of current and past research on the subject.
    I thought this was particularly relevant to OT’s, regular and special education teachers working with school aged students and as it also relates to mobile device use, the what and when of keyboarding instruction. Read Ask A Tech Teacher’s post. What kind of keyboarding instruction will you be providing?

  4. Pingback: Dear Otto: Do Students Still Need to Learn Keyb...

  5. Pingback: Dear Otto: Do Students Still Need to Learn Keyboarding? | OT's with Apps

  6. Could you recommend a keyboarding program that can be used by a child who has the use of only one hand? Thank you!

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