Teaching Computer   Keyboarding

Susan Miller, Ed.D.

53 Moore Street

Somerville, MA 02144

617  629-4626


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The Build a Keyboard Typing System, invented by Dr. Miller, is an instructional methodology whereby the student learns to type by literally building the keyboard from one with only the home keys to one with a full array.  As the student learns each new key, it is added to the keyboard.  By only having a limited number of keys inserted into the keyboard, the user’s hands can instantly find the home row keys, without error or having to look down at the letters. This is because there are no other keys on the keyboard;  there is no place else for the fingers to go.  As each new letter is introduced, it is then added to the keyboard. The letter key being taught is easier to find since there are no other keys in the vicinity for the user’s fingers to go. This makes touch typing easier because the only keys available are those that have been taught. The user’s fingers will naturally go to those keys because there are no other keys on the keyboard. The desire and/or need to look down at the keyboard is eliminated. As keys have been taught and learned, additional keys are then added to the keyboard until the entire keyboard is filled. The student has actively built up the keyboard as he/she has learned to type. This method provides a multi-sensory systematic form of instruction as is recommended for the education of young children and individuals with learning issues.  Additionally, this method is interactive as the learner constructs the keyboard (through the addition of the keys) as he/she is learning to type. By participating in the construction of the keyboard, the student is able to measure their own gains and experience the positive reinforcement of their success.

Typing and/or keyboarding skills are necessary for all aspects of computer usage, including composing documents or email, searching the web and updating personal/business calendars. These skills are no longer relegated to the high school student or those in the work world — children as young as 6 years old now use computers and their keyboards for both recreational and educational purposes, such as playing games and watching interactive videos teaching letter and number skills.  At the same time, schools are spending less time teaching handwriting to young children, leading to declining printing and cursive skills. Also, given the inclusive model of special education mandated by law, classrooms now are made up of many children with learning disabilities that may cause difficulty in learning both handwriting and keyboarding. Therefore, early instruction of the touch-typing skills used in keyboarding are more important than ever.

Young children who are lacking any formal instruction in touch keyboarding and novice keyboard users are left to use the ‘hunt and peck’ method wherein they must look at the keyboard and search for the correct letter to type. This results in slow, often inaccurate typing which over time becomes habitual and difficult to unlearn. In addition, children with dysgraphia and dyspraxia (learning disabilities that make writing difficult), are often assigned typing as a method of classroom accommodation, yet these same individuals have similar difficulties coordinating their fingers when typing as they do when trying to control a pen or pencil;  as a result, they too, often resort to the ‘hunt and peck’ method of typing.