Typing (keyboarding) is an excellent way to introduce students to computer literacy and to improve the user's ability to interact with the computer. It is easier for people to learn word processing and how to operate a computer program if they can type. Here are a few insider tips for teachers that are often overlooked.
Does the program start properly?
Even if you are a good typist, you should personally type some of the exercises. This will provide you with in-depth knowledge before instructing others in the use of the program. However, there can still be "last minute" hang-ups that occur when the friendly computer hacks make changes to the computers.
Walk to computer?
Will you be able to walk to each computer to answer individual student questions and to assure that sound skills are being followed (posture; eyes on screen, feet flat on floor, etc.) Or will you have to jump across desks and have six kids move out of the way to be able to talk to the person at the end of the row?
Assign student - computer.
For administrative purposes, it is easier to assign a learner to a particular computer. Then ask that person to constantly use the same computer. The lab people might want to have a central file server store the main program. This should not be a problem, provided you try out the program before using it in a teaching environment.
Even if the program is loaded into a network environment where each computer can access the software, permanently assigning a learner to a particular computer prevents a lot of wandering around and confusion when starting a class.
Report cards due.
Ask the students to show you their report card weekly to assure that they are staying on track. Classes are best when limited to a 45- or 50-minute class period so that students don't become tired, and they are more likely to concentrate on using the correct finger to strike a key. Stress that students need to concentrate in order to learn touch typing skills.
Too much work?
However, avoid "over-working" beginners. Many learners, particularly beginning computer users, become very tense when using the computers. Why not "reduce the tensions" so that learning can occur? Halfway through the period ask students to access a website that has extensive exercises to improve coordination and release stress. Of course, the advantage of learning in a private environment is to access the website whenever you feel like it.
Finger coordination exercises and stress reducing exercises will help reduce tension, and the students often produce a smile. Be sure to check out the free exercises at nimblefingers.com Ė Healthy Typing. A smile and pleasant environment will help make learning fun.
Typing TipsDevelop a routine. Set the work environment like you want it to optimize your learning sessions. Donít let the chair height; tilt of the monitor, location of the keyboard or posture vary from session to session.
No talking. Typing requires concentration. Talking disrupts the learning process.
Poor posture.   Most people remember the importance of using the correct key reaches, but there is a tendency to forget the importance of posture. Sound skills will not develop with poor posture. If you do not sit up straight and keep your feet flat on the floor, the angle of your arms will change; thus changing the keystroke reach. Speed and accuracy will be lost. Plus, poor posture is fatiguing.
Keep your eyes on the screen. If someone is constantly looking around, they are not concentrating. Furthermore, they will sooner or later disrupt others. When you see this happening, remind the class to concentrate on their task.
Use the correct finger-keystroke. Study the pictures in the Nimble Fingers program to know which finger to use. Whisper each letter before striking the key.
Check your hands! Your fingers should be on the home-row keys and your hands should slant at the same angle as the keyboard. Do not let your wrists become lazy and rest against the desk or the keyboard.
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Teaching - Learning
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Which exercise would you select?
With Nimble Fingers - Word Wacker and Typing & Data Entry
programs, You select the drill of interest to you.
NOTE: Busy Fingers is a kid's program, and
has more appropriate exercises for that age group.
A few of the over 500 exercises are shown.
We will try to keep things interesting for you.
Plus there are hundreds of FREE exercises available as downloads.
Below are three-minute exercises which can be downloaded from the web.
How about an exercise on cameras?
A pinhole camera is just a box with a tiny hole punched in one side,
and light-sensitive paper in the inside. It is amazing that it even
works because there is no lens, viewfinder, or light meter. To take a
picture, simply peel away the black tape covering the pinhole, wait a
few seconds to expose the film, and tape it back up. The resulting
photo has a quality of warmth, lacking in newer, more sophisticated
cameras. A German photographer pushed the concept of a pinhole camera
to its technological limits. He placed cut pieces of 35 mm film in his
mouth, then opened his lips in front of a mirror, to form a pinhole
camera. His blurry, fuzzy, dream-like series of photos became a unique
series of six self-portraits. This camera might sound quaint, but
obviously this is a very weird camera. Just try to imagine the taste
left in one's mouth after such an experiment was conducted. Also, I
think many dentists will quickly get to know him as they will be needed
to remove film that proves to be sticky.
Or an alarm clock exercise?
Irish monks introduced the concept of the alarm clock during their
missionary travels through heathen Europe. They enjoyed banging spoons
on pots every morning at exactly 5:45 a.m., while simultaneously shouting
Biblical passages in Greek and Latin. The monks were able to reckon the
time with amazing accuracy by the morning steam rising off cow pies. This
quickly resulted in a number of gruesome on-the-spot martyrdoms.
Out-of-work digital alarm clock engineers developed the first programmable
VCR. Model JZQX has switches so small that a magnifying glass was needed
to see them. The model had user-friendly messages such as "Please to
push not power after voiding selection" and "Electric shock be warned."
VCR units were shipped with the 18-page, 5-language, digital clock user
manual. Out of the 1,394,286 units shipped, no one spotted the errors.
Engineering triumph was achieved by using black lettering on a dark brown
housing. Sleep-deprived travelers had to correctly set small switches to
"AM," "PM," and "FM." A failure rate of 73% was achieved on model QZJ.
The technology was next employed with modern TV. Buttons such as "RCVR"
and "DBS Guide" on TV remotes encourage owners to read the multi-language
manual printed in gray on brown paper entitled "This side not up."
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