A vast majority of business and education have been transferred to computers in the modern age. This comes as no surprise because typing is more efficient and transferable. Computers are a great way to keep people engaged and connected to the outside world, but there is one thing that they are lacking. When typing on a computer, each key feels the exact same. They become less like letters and feel just like regular buttons. For this reason, typing is solely a visual learning experience and has no tactile component to it.
Handwriting on the other hand is a very involved process. When handwriting, you not only see the letter appear on the page, but you also feel the movement of the pen or pencil as you move it along the page. This is a far more enriching experience with higher levels of neurosensory activity. The benefits of this become more apparent with younger children, as they learn important distinctions between the shapes of letters and gain a better understanding of language in general.
This learning process however is lost with a complete shift to computers because students are immediately immersed into typing without first learning how to form each letter by hand. According to Edouard Gentaz, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Geneva, “Handwriting is a complex task which requires various skills – feeling the pen and paper, moving the writing implement, and directing movement by thought.” He goes on to say “Drawing each letter by hand substantially improves subsequent recognition… Drawing each letter by hand improves our grasp of the alphabet because we really have a body memory. Some people have difficulty reading again after a stroke. To help them remember the alphabet again, we ask them to trace the letters with their finger. Often it works, the gesture restoring the memory.”
Typing is not the same at all according to Roland Jouvent, head of Adult psychiatry at Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris. He believes “Handwriting is the result of a singular movement of the body, typing is not.” In other words, because typing is easier, the learning process is less involved and the connections to the letters produced are not as strong.
Inventions such as tactile keyboard covers are important in the classroom. They help fight against the loss of tactile learning as students transition to computers while maintaining the plethora of benefits that computers bring. Another solution is to have students write things by hand at least every once and awhile. Although this may not be a good solution for essays and book reports, it might be good for smaller assignments so that students can have a better connection to the words that they write. Although we are not going to go back to writing things longhand anytime soon, it is important to be mindful of what is being lost as we transition to a paperless classroom. We don’t need to try to fight the surge of technology but we should attempt to correct for its shortcomings wherever possible. Using solutions like the ones presented are crucial ways to integrate multi-sensory learning (visual and tactile) into the modern classroom.
About Our Sponsor
Keybodo is an ed-tech company based in Richmond, VA trying to combat the loss of tactile learning in the classroom. We have designed and patented a keyboard that has raised lettering and lets typists feel each letter. The elementary school students, who were tested, reported that they could feel when they made a mistake. The instant tactile feedback of pressing the wrong key allowed them to correct their typing overtime. Our Tactile Character Recognition Keyboard Cover goes over a Mac keyboard and allows students to feel the unique shapes of each letter as they learn to type. Check us out on our website: www.keybodo.com.
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