Why Does Australia Lag Behind In Typing Skills?

A vocational skill has now become mainstream

Over the past 40 years in Australia we have seen the skill of touch-typing move from being a vocational (secretarial) skill learntOld typewriter keyboard by a few to a key skill for all, in the age of the personal computer. At the same time the intentionality of teaching this critical skill has diminished. In her thesis for her Masters degree 2004, Gwendolyn Alderman comments that, “Touch keyboarding (in Australia) as a vocational skill is disappearing at a time when students and educators across all educational sectors are expected to use a computer keyboard on a regular basis.” The emphasis on the wider implementation of typed text now affects more people. Gwendolyn observes that the education system in the USA and other developed nations mandates the teaching of typing skills, yet in Australia ACARA, the NSW Syllabus and Victorian Curriculum fail to adequately address this issue. As a result, national productivity is being significantly impacted.

Australian educators are now starting to realise that the lack of clarity regarding the imperative for the teaching of typing skills is a serious issue. ACARA has recently added the skill of keyboarding to the Literacy Progressions HwK1 – HwK8. These new sub elements are a big step forward, yet they still don’t match the clarity of the typing requirement in the Common Core State Standards as used in the USA.

To aid in redressing this lack of awareness, EdAlive has produced a summative listing of the factors combining to elevate the imperative of the teaching of touch-typing skills.

As the CEO of EdAlive, the publisher of Typing Tournament Online, I am keenly aware that had I not taught myself to touch type on a mechanical type writer in 1984 and then on an Apple II computer I could never have completed the written work that has been integral to the success of EdAlive since 1987. In my professional life I have interacted with many people whose typing speed was low and limited by their poor technique and whose productivity was directly impacted by this lack of skill.

Australian Student Touch Typing with Typing TournamentWhether it is mandated by the custodians of our curricula or not, the skill of touch typing is vital to productivity and life.

Read Gwendolyn Alderman’s Master’s Degree thesis that explores this matter in depth.

Happy touch typing!

Graham East October 2019.

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