SPECIAL TO THE TRIBUNE
A couple of generations back, it was taught in the high school. Then, it was moved to the middle school. Now, it’s moved once again to the sixth grade.
And although it is now called keyboarding instead of typing, the skill is more important than ever.
“Many schools are teaching keyboarding in the elementary setting, some beginning at the third-grade level,” said Randy Wetzel, USD 428 director of Career and Technical Education. “Computers are part of our lives. The sooner we can learn to use a keyboard correctly, the better students will be prepared for what awaits.”
To prepare students for the future, the district has invested in a device called Neo2. A Neo2 is not a computer, a laptop, an iPad, a Notebook or Notepad. It is more of a typing pad than an actual computer, although it does more than just type. It is a lightweight unit that brings together the functionality of a portable word processor and a six-function calculator.
“Students are using computers at an earlier age,” Wetzel said. “Consequently, they are keyboarding incorrectly and must be retaught. The NEO will provide younger students the skills to use a keyboard correctly.”
Each elementary school has been given a docking cart and 30 Neo2s that can be used for Accelerated Reading and Accelerated Math tests.
“The NEOs have a wide variety of applications other than keyboarding that will assist teachers in educating students,” Wetzel said, adding that teachers were given training last week about how to utilize the devices in their classrooms.
He noted that eight Neos can be purchased for the price of one laptop, which makes them relatively inexpensive.
“Use of the NEO in the sixth grade will help GBHS students in the future,” Wetzel explained. “With keyboarding skills attained at the sixth grade, Steve. Beaumont at the middle school will be able to teach skills we currently teach at the high school to freshmen and sophomores. By doing this, instructors here at the high school will be able to teach more advanced skills and concepts such as game design and authoring for the web, animation, internet marketing and computer programming to name a few.
“Our sixth-grade teachers see the need to get technology into their students’ hands,” Wetzel said. “I think they are even more receptive now after learning what the NEO can do for them and the student in the classroom.”
Sixth-grade Park School Teacher Eric Dowson agreed.
“The amazing thing about the Neo2s is that students can do so much more than just keyboard on them,” Dowson said. “They can take AR quizzes, they can work on math facts from addition to calculus, they can word process, they can interface with the Study Island program as selector tools and they can share information from keyboard to keyboard.
“The Neo2s do significantly more than I thought they did,” he said.