Ah, keyboarding. What do we do with it now?
When I was a freshman in college (2001), I took a 1-credit keyboarding class. My dad caught word of this and let his opinion be known: this class was an utter waste of my time and money. Except it wasn’t. Could I have learned how to type quickly and effectively on my own? Sure. But I was typing with 2 fingers in chat rooms and writing papers and I didn’t have the motivation to learn to type on my own. The course provided the needed structure and motivation. What a difference it has made for me since!
This wasn’t all that long ago but two key trends are present now (and accelerating with time) that weren’t back then. One is texting, using a keyboard designed for two fingers on a device held in the hands instead of one designed for two hands that lays flat on a table. The other is the growing access to voice-to-text software or apps. I see both of these pushing traditional keyboarding skills to obsolescence in the coming years, though not quite yet. In recent years, I have sent countless emails using my thumbs and I’ve even written a few papers for courses this way. If students are typing onto a phone instead of on a computer, they won’t have the opportunity to practice traditional typing skills enough to truly develop them. Voice-to-text will have an even bigger impact. I regularly compile emails and papers using the voice-to-text function on my iPhone (and then go back and edit it with my thumbs because it’s not a perfect tool – yet). At work where I sit in front of a “real” computer (desk top), I find myself often frustrated that I have to type an email out. Why? Why aren’t voice to text programs free and ubiquitous on computers like they are on phones?? I believe that they will be before long. In a world where we all have access to high quality voice-to-text software, why would the majority of people type?
Students in K-12 today may still have a need for keyboarding skills but I foresee that need disappearing in the next several years as technology advances, changes, and becomes more ubiquitous.