All The Right Type

One of my earliest memories with technology involved learning to type with portable keyboards in elementary school. In the midst of learning to print and handwrite on paper, we were given smaller standalone keypads to interact with words on a digital display. We started finding letters on standard QWERTY keyboards, and progressed through spelling drills and contests for most words per minute. Reflecting on those moments reminds me to be continually amazed how far technology has come: Green screens have been replaced with color, small fonts with zooming functionality, tangible hardware to digital keyboards, etc. Some questions it raises for me however: while students learn to interact seamlessly with tablets (more naturally than parents can teach), is this generation losing out on the ability to actually write, legibly forming letters to communicate thoughts and shape memory?


  1. That’s an interesting point you bring up Andrew. There is some decent research out there indicating that although students are learning to type at younger ages, it is critical for their development, particular spelling and phonemic awareness, that they continue to write. In their later learning years, it is also more important for them to write to retain information. The keyboard provides a nice practical and efficient way to take notes, but if they need to remember anything later, they should be taking notes by hand.

    Here’s an interesting study done on this topic, if you’re interested, by Longcamp et al., 2005. ‘The Influence of writing practice on letter recognition in preschool children: A comparison between handwriting and typing’. Retrieved from:

    1. Thanks for the article Jocelynn. An interesting follow up experience: I recently attended a professional development workshop where a speaker with autism was describing how he didn’t like the texture of pen/paper, opting towards keyboard/screen. Who knew?


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