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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Christian Keyboarding Review

Many years ago when I worked at Disney, I spent some time working as a secretary while I was recovering from wrist surgery. Ironically, the position I was filling was open, and I was totally able to do the job and did it quite well, but I could not actually qualify to keep the job I was already doing. Why, you might ask? I couldn't pass the typing test. Now, having worked at the job for months, I knew I typed fine enough to fill the role, but because of the job classification, I had to be able to type twice as fast as I could to actually qualify to keep the job. Crazy, I know. But that was the one time in my life I actually regretted not learning how to type in high school.

My personal typing skills are not the best. I type about 40 words per minute, and I admit I have to look at the keyboard more than I would like. So I was very intrigued at the opportunity to review Christian Keyboarding's two e-books that teach keyboarding skills. Here was the chance for my children to learn what their mother missed out on!

Christian Keyboarding has several keyboarding lessons available, but the two we were asked to look at were Keyboarding for the Christian School
and Keyboarding for the Christian School Elementary Edition.
Essentially, the e-books teach the same skills: how to type using the correct fingers on the correct keys using the home positions and learning where each finger reaches to type the different letters and numbers from that home position. The lessons are presented in a series of short drills using repetition to build muscle memory for where they are located. They start out with typing single letters with different fingers on each hand, and build to typing words and sentences (scripture) and then some of the shorter psalms. The books are different in the additional skills they teach: the upper level one teaches much more MLA layout of different types of letters, papers, envelopes, etc. that the elementary version does not cover.

The Pros: We live in an age where using a computer is a MUST, and good keyboarding skills will serve your students for life. But we also live in a time where wacky abbreviations for words and throwing proper formatting away have become the norm, so if your student HAS those "old fashioned" skills, they will be MILES ahead of their peers. Either level of Keyboarding for the Christian School will give them those skills. The programs are affordable ($15.95 for the upper level and $12.95 for the elementary level-or just $22 collectively). And as a Christian, I like that the sentences and paragraphs the students progress to typing are scripture.

The cons: It's not a flashy program. There are a TON of "fun" typing programs out there that feature popular characters and game-like activities. This is NOT one of those. It's dry and to the point. But it develops critical skills those software programs don't teach, like how maintain typing fluency as you are transferring information from a paper or other resource to the computer. That ability to look up and away from the keyboard and read the resource and transpose what is read into your new document is vital, and a skill that software typing programs do not address. You will need to print the pages of these e-books for them to be usable, so you should allow for that when calculating the cost. Also in the upper level of the book, the black and white MS Word screen shots appear blurry to me in Adobe, but print out just fine.
The bottom line? Typing/keyboarding skills are vitally important. And I like that beyond teaching where the keys are and what fingers to properly use, the books also teach basic commonly used layouts like paragraphs, research papers, how to read and use proofreading marks, and even tables and columns. I'd definitely recommend these books, even if they won't attract your student with flash and flair. Someday, they will thank you.
Keyboarding for the Christian School and Keyboarding for the Christian School Elementary Edition can be purchased HERE, and sample lessons are available for preview there as well. To read what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

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