Quality Criteria for Courses
A course is a ordered set of lessons. To be efficient for learning touch typing the content of the course should meet a few requirements.
- The first lesson should cover the home keys
- Usually a keyboard has to haptic markers for the keys belonging to we index fingers on the second row. These keys and the three adjacent keys outwards are the home keys. That's asdfjkl; for the US keyboard layout.
Those eight keys are the start position of each finger. One must internalize the location of these keys first to successfully learn touch typing.
- Introduce two new keys per lesson
- The unlocking order of keys is not fixed, but usually keys are introduced in pairs belonging to the same finger on both hands. Make your way from the home keys to the ones further away. Thus, the forth row should be introduced at last. Prefer keys for important characters of your language, this may require to bend the introduction pattern a bit. For example in French accents are really important, this warrants a lesson focusing on the accent key alone.
If more keys are introduced the trainee might get overwhelmed by the difficulty of the lesson and loose his motivation. Introduce keys for important keys for the ability to form real words earlier.
- Extra emphasis on the new keys
- Make sure the characters belonging to the newly introduced are the most or at least very frequently used characters in the lesson text.
If the trainee passes a lesson he should have mastered the new keys. This is only possible if the lesson contains a significant amount of the new characters.
- Intersperse lessons with new keys with repetition lessons
- Every two to three lessons add a repetition lesson without new keys. These should have an even character mix covering all already introduced characters.
Such lessons help to strengthen the acquired skills and and provide a way to check the overall training level. They are also better suited for repeated training to further improve one's general typing skills.
- Dedicated lessons for capitalization
- There should be several lessons focusing sorely on capitalization. Ideally capitalization is introduced in multiple steps: At first only the left shift key, then the the right, then both and followed by one or more repetition lessons.
Mastering capitalization is the most difficult part of learning touch typing. Therefore extra effort must be spend on these lessons.
- Cover the complete keyboard layout
- This includes characters and symbols accessibly via additional modifiers. Ideally every character, number and symbol which is printed on a real keyboard should be covered.
This keeps the course interesting for already advanced typists.
- Give lessons a descriptive title
- Name the the new characters if there are any or otherwise state what the lesson is about.
Good titles make it easier to find the right course if one wants to train something specific.
- The lesson text should be composed out of real words and sentences
- Optimally a lesson forms a comprehensible contiguous text on a freely chosen subject.
Training with real words and sentences is more effective than with arbitrary random character combinations since it that is closer to real typing usage. And it is more fun.
- Avoid non-word character combinations
- This may impossible in the very first lessons where only a few characters are available, but as soon as possible only real words should be uses. Do not employ misspelled words at all costs.
Random character combinations are hard to type and are seldom found in day-to-day typing. Misspelled words on the other hand are confusing and have even a negative learning value, since the trainee may memorize the wrong spelling.
- Lesson text should be roughly 600 characters long
- Texts may be longer, up to 1200 characters is okay, but shorter lessons should be avoided. This is especially true for repetition lessons.
Keeping within this range ensures that a untrained typist (~120 characters per minute) can finish a lesson in five to ten minutes. Longer lessons get frustrating, shorter ones are ineffective.
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