The Lost Art of Touch Typing
Computers have replaced
typewriters, but two-finger, hunt-and-peck
typing can never replace the touch typing of a trained professional.
A recent report by Robert Johnson
in the Boston Globe highlights the decline of typing skills. Human
resource managers are finding it surprisingly difficult to recruit
candidates with the most basic of all office skills. According to
Johnson, "the rapid-fire100-word-per-minute applicant has virtually
disappeared. Today, a mere 40 words per minute is enough to gain
many administrative jobs."
Paradoxically, as computers are being used by more and more
people, it has become apparent that
typing is not just a skill required by typist anymore. Strong typing
skills are vital when conducting a thorough web search, entering
data into a spreadsheet or using any other computer program. Ubiquitous
email means that merely doubling your typing speed could save hours
each week! Yet many of us persist with the two-finger, hunt-and-peck
How did we end up in such a mess? When
people first begin to use computers, many do not take the time to
learn how to type correctly. Using keyboard may seem to be simple,
when compared with learning complex business software. People do
not realize that by learning how to type properly, their use of
software will be more effective and their time spent on a computer
will be more productive.
|| Attitudes in school
teaching have also had an impact.
Typing skills were once taught in most
secondary schools. Johnson
notes that these low-tech classes consisted of little more than
a teacher with a wind-up clock and
rows of typewriters. The
textbook showed the keyboard and specified which fingers should
strike various letters and numbers in order to quickly copy
business documents such as invoices
and memos. But most schools
phased-out the typing class as the demand for broader computer
Of course, many
people manage to get by with thetwo-finger,
seek-and-tap method. But getting by is all it is. By learning to
touch-type, you step into a new realm of computer experience. No
longer do you need to fret over the physical process of keying in
information, whether it is a quick response to an instant message
or a 30-page report. Instead, as a touch-typist you are free to
concentrate on what you are writing, while your fingers do the "thinking"
about which keys to hit.
How to Learn the Lost Art
of Touch Typing?
If you are unable to open e-mail account without mistyping your
password at least once or you're stuck at 20 words per minute, there
are a several ways to improve. First, check out your current performance
by taking a typing test. You will find a free typing test on the
UK Training News website. If you can manage 90-100 words per minute
then relax; otherwise read on.
Typing tutor software is a low-cost approach that can easily transform
you from a hunt-and-pecker to a 100-word-a-minute touch-typist.
There are dozens of typing programs available, including freeware
and shareware programs. You need to look for a program which won't
bore you to death with tedious drills, won't frustrate you with
poor design or US spelling and which provides enough scope to let
you achieve your target typing speed.
"Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" is the leading typing instruction
program, and has been one of the top ten best-selling software titles
for over 10 years. A far cry from the first version that came out
on floppy disks and had just four colours to display, the latest
version has a virtual classroom with the simple to understand icons.
Mavis adjusts to the individual problem areas on the keyboard with
unbelievable insight and watches for the typist's frustration factor.
It will suggest a different words per minute goal, throw in a typing
game for a break, or even advise "calling it a day." While
self-instructional software on typing has proliferated, some say
they're no replacement for supervised classes. Besides, for many
programs other than "Mavis Beacon", the entertainment
value seems to outweigh their educational quality. Consider Sega's
"Typing of the Dead" tutorial, for which an ad suggests,
"Trade in your video game controller for a keyboard and start
typing for your life." The format is to "type" zombies
to death by completing words and phrases that appear over their
bodies. Some employers say that typing training must be taken more
Several training companies offer short classroom based typing training
in the UK. Examples are "GO Training" in Glasgow and "Training
Circle" in Northampton, where you will find instructor-led
courses for around ?200. For longer courses leading to a professional
qualification, many local colleges offer excellent value.
Dick James is the editor
of UK Training News, a free website providing articles, resources
and discussion for the UK business and industrial training community.
Click here to take the free online typing test. http://www.trainingnews.co.uk/freeonlinetypingtest.html