Learn Touch Typing! December 29, 2009Posted by Wilz in Education, Personal, Student Development.
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.
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!