The best motivation for learning a new skill is looking at the benefits that other people have gained from that skill. When it comes to typing, Doreen Holding demonstrates how learning this skill at a young age continues to bring her success in the professions and projects she’s taken on. Now she’s sharing her skills with others both as a private typing tutor and on her website. A history of teaching typing to people at all age levels has given her the ability to explain the best ways to learn to touch type, and the seven lessons in her Beginner Typing series are a quick and effective way to get the typing skills you need. We asked Doreen about her thoughts on learning typing, and what she plans to do next.
Typesy: You started teaching typing back when it was a skill that was generally only taught to girls, who were expected to end up as secretaries typing letters for their (usually male) bosses. Were there boys who also wanted to learn typing back then, and is there still the idea that typing is primarily something that women do?
DH: When I started to teach typing in 1972 there were SOME boys interested in learning typing, not as many as girls, and when I taught classes in our Polytechnic in the mid 1980s it was to mixed classes. Also at a Secondary School I taught a mixed class but I have to admit that in that class some of the boys had no interest in typing. I caught their interest in a cunning exercise I got them to do but no time to explain that here. I believe that when there were first typists in offices only males were used and it took quite a while for females to become accepted as typists. Today I don’t think any distinction is made; so many men are using computers so they need to learn to type.
Typesy: With the use of technology in almost every part of our lives today, people of all ages need to learn how to use a computer keyboard. Do you find that there’s a difference in how you teach typing to older adults, compared to how you instruct children?
DH: Yes, young fingers are flexible and could cope with any of several typing courses I have used. When I first started tutoring for SeniorNet in 2001, rather than use any of the many typing tutors I had used in schools I designed a special course for older, stiffer, sometimes rhuematic fingers and maybe slower brains by introducing often-used key combinations in English words, as they are set out on a computer keyboard. The first lessons used only fingers 1 and 2 of each hand while the student had time to exercise all fingers ready to progress.
Typesy: Your site isn’t just about learning to type – it also contains a series of lessons on keyboard shortcuts showing people how to efficiently create and navigate through documents while still keeping your hands on the keyboard. Why do you recommend learning and using these key-based commands rather than clicking with the mouse, as most people are used to doing?
DH: I first thought of the idea of keyboard shortcuts when we had an elderly lady with such bad Parkinsons that she could only use one hand and that very awkwardly and she and some others could barely grip the mouse. She wanted to correspond but could only hold a pen long enough to write her signature. We also had several elderly people who were developing shakiness. When I taught at a disability centre there was a young lady who had had a stroke and could only use one hand. Keyboard Shortcuts plus Sticky Keys were necessary.
The other reason is that when I learned to use a computer it didn’t have a mouse, only keys were used and as a typist it frustrated me having to keep taking my hand from the keys and reach out for the mouse, move and point and click it and return it to the keyboard. Also, pain shot through my clicking finger from arthritis. My shoulder would ache after a lot of typing using a mouse. Keeping the right hand on the keys saves time and energy. I wonder how many 2-finger typists will develop RSI in those fingers!
Typesy: You incorporate stretching and relaxation exercises into your typing lessons, giving instructions like “flex your fingers and your shoulders” between steps. When many people think of fast touch typists, they think of someone who can sit at the keyboard for hours on end, typing away madly. Why don’t these breaks slow down a person’s typing speed?
DH: These breaks don’t slow down a person’s typing speed. They help the typists to relax the fingers, wrists, neck and back and then get back to their fast typing more efficiently. It gives the eyes and concentration a break also. They may in the end get more work done and more efficiently.
Typesy: Children tend to be more attracted to game-based interactive lessons, and there’s one game on the site right now. Do you plan on adding more games, or materials specifically for younger children?
DH: No, at this point I don’t plan to add any more game-based lessons. Maybe at a later date. As for younger children, although this course was originally designed for adults I have used it successfully with young children. I feel a problem these days is that children are introducted to computer keyboards at such a young age that maybe for years they pick and poke at the keys and then don’t want to bother learning to type correctly. I have actually had people in my senior classes who had been 2-finger typists who were very thankful for my class and learned to type very well with all fingers.
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