In elementary schools, the keyboarding debate rages on parallel to the cursive/print debate. There are diehard proponents of students never having formal keyboarding training because keyboards are on their way out, there are folks who believe it is one of the only crucial skills a student will learn in school, there are people who think that teaching keyboarding corrupts a student’s ability to think about words, there are people who believe that all keyboards should be smashed to oblivion (not because they are tecnnophobic, but because their jobs as scribes are threatened by this new technology. Sorry scribes.) Even within the community of people who believe that keyboarding should be taught in elementary schools, there is a wide range of opinions about when and how and even what programs should be used.
From my own experience teaching and from the little reading I have done, I find that students in third grade developmentally have the ability to start mastering touch typing. My third graders are eager for it, so we dedicate about 15 minutes of a total 45 minutes I see them a week to this skill.
At my former job and here at my new one, we had bent black plastic keyboard covers that constantly fell off the tables and that students would slouch in their chairs to peek under to find the correct keys. This year, I decided to get keyboard skins that just lay on top of the keyboards. They are terrific. Whether I am indelibly damaging my students’ ability think or teaching them obsolete skills, I will not hazard a guess, but they seem to enjoy their typing and the progress they are making on this very concrete skill.
On a personal note, I am using an iPad for almost all of my blogging. Other issues aside, the touch keyboard on the screen just doesn’t work for me. I have to use a bluetooth keyboard to generate any length of text quickly. I would be interested in knowing the average speed of iPad typing vs. touch typing on a keyboard vs. iPhone typing (using complete sentences and not IM language, OMG!!).
I have started using my iPad2 with a wireless keyboard to do the bulk of my blogging. I researched many keyboards, but finally decided that the Apple bluetooth keyboard was the best option. The keys are made to work with Apple devices, and the aluminum body would hold up to a beating. I also got a small bag to put the iPad, keyboard, stylus (for drawing), and the infinite number of chargers and dongles that continually are released by Apple to ensure their ongoing revenue streams.