There is no denying the tablet computer is a wonderful thing. They can be affordable, easy to use, portable, and they offer sufficient computing power for the majority of owners. According to some recent research, 3.2 million children are using tablets in the UK.
This increased usage is also reflected in UK classrooms. There has been much rhetoric recently about instilling the younger generation with computer coding skills to make them more employable when they leave school. I’m not convinced about the importance of coding in a school curriculum unless a child has a genuine interest in how computers work.
Undoubtedly tablets have their place in education and children find them more “fun” to learn on. Indeed tablet manufacturers are designing models specifically for schools, boasting features like toughened glass, sturdier cases, and they come loaded with some of the best educational apps on the market.
As teachers we need to make sure that in the face of this burgeoning tablet usage that basic skills such as touch typing and popular office usage are key skills employers will still be looking for in five years’ time and these will be what the majority of children rely on in the workplace. As such they should be as embedded a skill as reading, writing or arithmetic. Otherwise we face a whole generation of children lacking in basic IT skills they need to get ahead in the workplace.
Next term at Knighton we intend to pilot a scheme with one year group which will teach them to touch type in half a term. To be able to equip the girls with the ability to touch type at speed will be a wonderful skill which will help them in the future. It’s an absolute must given how much time they will spend using a keyboard in their lives.
A friend who is a now a successful orthopaedic surgeon had the good sense to learn how to touch type and write shorthand in his first year at university allowing him to take copious amounts of detailed notes during lectures. I wish I had had the same foresight as I continue to bash away on my keyboard with limited speed and skill.
That said, exams are still taken using a pen and pencil. We will be doing our children a great disservice if we also neglect the fundamental skills of being able to write with a pen. Let us forget this at our peril.