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Learn Touch Typing! December 29, 2009

Posted by Wilz in Education, Personal, Student Development.
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It just occurred to me that for some reason, touch typing is not part of computer skills education. Not even a chapter on it. And yet, typing is such a ubiquitous part of computer usage. I type reasonably fast (I think), a benefit which is enjoyed by far too few people in an age where computers are so heavily integrated in the workplace. I’m going to talk about some of the personal things I’ve enjoyed from fast typing, especially at work.

Start like this!

I can finish the minutes of a meeting by the time the meeting ends – i.e. type as fast as the decisions are being made. (Being very fast at Microsoft Word and using styles helps as well probably.) I send out the meeting minutes ten minutes after the meetings end, and the ten minutes is for fact/attendance checking.

I also write a lot, and a lot of people comment that it seems easy for me to produce a piece of writing quickly. I on the other hand find that writing is hard. I throw away a lot of the text I write as I edit and refine the speech / article / body of text. (Like for this post, I probably deleted as much text as you see posted, and that’s for a blog post.) So being able to type fast helps me put down a lot of ‘trial text’, and the less effort I had to make to put them down, the less reluctant I am to part with (delete) them.

Another important aspect of writing is taking down ideas as they come. The specific content, how they flow, story angles and little useful phrases pop into your brain unpredictably, sometimes when you’re writing something else. Being able to take that down quickly, and paste it somewhere in the rough order of your writing is also important. In short, writing well and quickly on the computer, probably is helped a lot by the ability to type fast.

Of course, other office related work – writing emails, proposals, composing letters, and updating calendars and to-do lists is sped up considerably. It’s also very impressive to be able to sit in a brainstorming session with senior colleagues while drawing, typing out and revising what they’re saying onto slides right in front of their eyes. Heh.

Social activities on the computer is sped up as well. I regularly have to slow myself down when chatting to avoid drowning out the other party chatting with me. Chatting with people in games, posting in forums, updating twitter or Facebook – all of these things are faster the more quickly you type.

Also, if you can type without having to look at the keyboard (called touch typing), you free up part of your mind to just focus on what you are typing. You don’t need to cue your fingers with your eyes, and look back up to double check what you’re typing. You keep your eyes on the screen, think of something you want to have appear, your fingers fly, and tadah, you have text. (It also looks really cool if you look at and talk to someone while you’re finishing off a sentence or two. Ahem.)

Our use of computers just seems so sub-optimal without proper typing instruction. Futuristic input options may make a lot of this somewhat obsolete, but for now, there is no reason not to master typing. I did a search for a typing speed test, and went with the first two results:

On http://www.typeonline.co.uk/typingspeed.php, taking the average from 5 tests, my speed is about 121 words per minute (wpm). The text difficulty can vary wildly, but my typing speed is somewhat constant.

On http://speedtest.10-fast-fingers.com/, I got the following results:
506 points, so you achieved position 378 of 506,056 on the ranking list.
You type 648 characters per minute.
You have 120 correct words and you have 2 wrong words.

Try the tests and post your results in the comments below. :) I also video-ed my fingers typing, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” It’s an English sentence that contains all the letters in the alphabet.

I have my parents to thank for my learning typing. I loved ‘messing’ with the typewriter at my mom’s office, and she would always give me a piece of paper to tap tap away on. But when my sister and I begged for a computer at home, they told us that we had to learn to touch type first, or they’re not buying us one. They got us this typing workbook and I would go downstairs to my father’s office, sit in the corner with an old typewriter, and tap away. FFFF JJJJ FFJJ JJFF FJFJ JFJF DDDD KKKK … In hindsight, they probably would’ve bought the computer anyways, but it’s powerful motivation indeed.

I wonder if there’s a ‘too late’ barrier to typing. I learnt it quite early in my life. I also wonder if learning typing on a typewriter will always be superior to learning it on a computer. I remember that typing on the typewriter was hard, especially when trying to hit the keys ‘a’ and ‘Shift’ with your left little finger. Switching from that to a computer is like sprinting after taking off the weights you’ve tied against your ankles for a week.

I’ve enjoyed so many benefits from knowing proper typing techniques. I don’t get why more people have not picked it up. I think I’m going to try to get this into the syllabus for Computer Applications in my university. Mid semester lab test – typing accuracy and speed test in the computer (typewriter?) lab!

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Comments»

1. Wilz - December 29, 2009

In retrospect, it should’ve been, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” (jumps, not jumped) Otherwise there would be no ‘s’ in the sentence. Oh well.

2. Adrian - December 29, 2009

58 WPM with 3 errors :(

3. Kristine Tang - December 29, 2009

Being in MMU for 5 years and surrounded by many people who can type relatively well, it kinda shocked me when I went to work at my aunt’s office (there’s about 10 of us..its a small office) where most (if not all) of the workers there couldn’t type with 10 fingers. Most of them are still typing with 2 fingers. While I was chatting on gtalk at work one day, one of them asked me if I was simply typing nonsense, randomly pressing keys on the keyboard.

I have my primary school PK HEM to thank cuz back in those days, computer classes were mostly just for exposure to computer, and most of the time spent during those classes were for games. When she was in charge that year, she made it compulsory for us to know how to type. The teacher placed a keyboard (not connected to a PC) in front of her table and called us out one by one and ask us to press the key that she tells us to. Of course there was typing programs too.

I think putting the typing accuracy and speed test into the lab test is a good idea IMO. (I can imagine students playing FB’s Typing Maniac in class…LOL)

77 WPM, 2 mistakes.

388 points, so you achieved position 7007 of 531831 on the ranking list
You type 492 characters per minute
You have 94 correct words and
you have 0 wrong words

(how the fck did u type so fast? >.< )

4. Hutan Desa - December 30, 2009

Your speed was: 92wpm.

You made 3 mistakes

————-

414 points, so you achieved position 4049 of 534987 on the ranking list

You type 537 characters per minute
You have 97 correct words and
you have 0 wrong words

——

my speed is thanks to the late teen-years of ICQ and IRC ;)

5. chinloong - December 30, 2009

Your speed was: 102wpm.

You made 1 mistake, your mistake is shown in bold text:

440 points, so you achieved position 2096 of 537587 on the ranking list

You type 591 characters per minute
You have 106 correct words and
you have 3 wrong words

6. chinloong - December 30, 2009

yeah irc and icq helped too here

7. V - December 30, 2009

No its not too late to pick this up. In fact you might pick it up much faster when u are older. I make sure the guys who who begin working with me spend the first 3 weeks learning to touch type. It improves productivity.

I would recommend printing the tutorials or use the “workbook” which our parents would have had for a typewriter coz u improve better if ur eyes are moving from a paper to the screen instead of window to window of a screen.

Everyone should touch type. I agree. why isnt this thought in schools?

8. Ramon - January 1, 2010

Dammit!..

258 points, so you achieved position 636 of 4029 on the ranking list

You type 325 characters per minute
You have 60 correct words and
you have 0 wrong words

60WPM

9. Khilly - January 8, 2010

50 WPM, 2 erros.


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