I have lost the battle to resist the urge to participate in this discussion.

It is time to stop looking to the past as we identify the skills kids need.

The myth of touch typing.
1. Many people took typing in highschool in "my day." Only a few became expert typists. Just because you are taught doesn't mean you learn or become expert.
2. Many people did not take a typing course is school and because they needed it on the job became adequate to exceptional typists with or without knowledge of the qwerty finger positions. Think journalists and computer programmers.
3. Qwerty has been proven to be an inefficient keyboard.

Here's what I learned as a former keyboarding teaching turned tech integrationist turned learning designer.

1. Providing guided instruction in how to use a specific keyboard is very helpful for children when they are first using a computing device. But letter to key recognition is the main goal not touch typing.

2. If an organized effort to teach "touch typing" is deemed necessary:
  • As Lucie says, the teacher must be actively involved, observing, supporting, encouraging, guiding, applauding, making it positive.
  • Teacher involvement should never be punitive.
  • Understand that not all people / children will be good at touch typing. Kids who have trouble with other kinds of focus or fine motor control are probably going to need to look at the keys or use different fingering. That's ok. Journalists and computer programmers have done quite well over the years with the so called hunt and peck method.
  • it is pointless to teach touch typing unless the student has frequent opportunities AND need for practice. This should not be the only time they use a computer at school. The motivation to become fast and efficient comes from need.
3. Do we really need to teach touch typing and the querty keyboard? Is there any research that our efforts to teach typing have improved students success? How many teenagers do you know who needed a course to learn to text with their thumbs? HaveĀ you ever split the keyboard on your iPad and used your thumbs to type - it is pretty fast once you get the hang of it. Have you ever used the microphone to do google searches? How many different keyboard layouts have you seen on phones? Our kids need to be able to adapt to multiple interfaces and input mechanisms. They do not need to be fast and efficient typists in a secretarial pool.

If you want to change a child's relationship to working on a computer, teach them to program.


Jane Wilde
Geek, learner, teacher, trainer
Faculty, Marlboro College Graduate School
Doctoral student, University at Albany
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