. . . Typing has shifted from being a vocational skill
needed at the high school level to a skill that’s now
needed by elementary school students.
When I was growing up, I was expected to take a typing class in high school. We had mostly
manual typewriters, as well as a few electric typewriters with the automatic carriage return. Typing was taught in the
vocational education program, and nobody learned to type until high school.
People were expected to type college papers, but typing wasn’t usually expected
until the high school level.
Things have changed.
With the advent of computing, high-
end word processors, and electronic doc-
uments, typing has shifted from being a
vocational skill needed at the high school
level to a skill that’s now needed by el-
ementary school students. The issue is
how to teach typing in a way that will be
practical and useful. Fortunately, typing
is a repetitive skill that is ideal to teach
via the use of computing technology.
There are many great free apps for
teaching kids (and adults) how to
type well. This month, I high-
light a number of great typing
programs. All are completely
free and work on any reasonably
modern computer. They do require an
Internet connection, but the connection
doesn’t need to be terribly fast.
I recommend using a full-size keyboard for typing instruction, preferably a
real keyboard (not a laptop). You can get a
USB keyboard quite inexpensively, and it
should work with no problems on pretty
much any computer. Laptop keyboards
are often a bit non-standard and aren’t
always full-size. Typing instruction is one
place where a traditional computer may
be a better option than a tablet.
www.typingweb.com) is a
website devoted to typing instruction. It
has a number of interesting features and
is one of the more complete sites available. It requires a login, but the content
is completely free. You can purchase an
upgrade, but as long as you don’t mind
advertisements, the free version has everything you need.
You can create multiple accounts to
keep track of each student’s work independently, and you can also set up a
teacher account to manage all your students’ records. You get complete feedback from each lesson, including identification of the problem keys and speed/
The site also includes a very nice typing
test that helps you determine each student’s current skill level. As the student
types, the program identifies problem
keys and generates custom letters that
let him focus on the keys that are giving
him trouble. Many lessons are available
to students, ranging from quite simple to
more complex. Results from the typing
test will help a student determine which
lessons he needs to begin with, and students can take the test many times to
evaluate their skills.
When he’s ready, the student can take
an “official” test that leads to certification