Keyboards Help, But Experts Worry about Students’ Typing Skills
Vanessa Romo | November 22, 2013
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As LA Unified debates when to buy keyboards to go along with the district’s new iPads, experts say typing skills and accuracy are essential to student success on Common Core testing.
The new Smarter Balanced standardized tests in California will be taken on computers by all students, even at the elementary school level. The language arts section of the test requires third grade students to write three short pieces, while fourth-graders are expected to write a full page in one sitting.
“So if you have students pecking at a keyboard, one key at a time, they are not going to do very well,” Jeremy Davis, Director of Education Technology of Capistrano Unified School District told LA School Report.
LA Unified’s plans for keyboards remain uncertain. A committee that oversees the spending on the district’s digital technology program told officials this week to provide the panel a price for keyboards that could be used with the 49,000 iPads that have already been distributed.
District students are taught to use a keyboard if teachers see a need for it, Shannon Haver, an LA Unified spokeswoman said, adding that students are expected to learn the necessary keyboarding techniques as part of learning each application.
Davis was one of several speakers at this year’s California Education Technology Professionals Association held this week in Pasadena. “The kids who can’t type and are sitting there struggling to get their thoughts on the page are going to get testing fatigue, and eventually they’ll just start guessing,” Davis said, addressing chief technology officers from around the state.
He predicted that many of the students who struggle with typing would simply run out of time and not finish the exam.
Educators agree that children who can type will have a big advantage over those who can’t, which is why many districts are focusing on keyboard instruction. Gil Mara, Director of Technology for Hawthorne School District, said his district recognized students there lacked adequate keyboarding skills.
This year they implemented a keyboard literacy plan from kindergarten through high school.
“It’s another thing kids have to learn and teachers have to teach, but it’s something that has to happen,” Mara said. “We want keyboarding to come naturally to them.”
Getting students to become proficient typists will take time. Unfortunately, time is not a luxury that many districts have. The state will begin issuing the new tests this Spring.