Administering a Keyboarding Course On The World Wide Web (The Georgia Experiment)

By Dr. Jack E. Johnson, Director of Business Education, Department of Management and Business Systems
State University of West Georgia
Dr. Terry D. Roach, Director of Graduate Business Programs, College of Business
State University of Arkansas
Mr. Roderick Hames, Computer Science Teacher, Alton C. Crews Middle School, Lawrenceville, Georgia



Distance learning is an emerging model for the presentation and administration of educational content in schools across the country, at both secondary and post-secondary institutions. The forum used at the State University of West Georgia combines both distance learning and on-line Internet instruction. This study addresses the implementation of distance learning instruction in a selected business education graduate course in keyboarding methodology. Keyboarding experts across the country were identified to collaborate with the instructor and a class of graduate students at West Georgia. Distance learning technology was used to link the experts with the students as they discussed 86 issues in teaching keyboarding. Through the use of chat rooms, bulletin boards, e-mail, and telephone conversations, the group of experts and students discussed keyboarding methodologies pertinent to today's keyboarding classrooms. The study demonstrated a successful and rewarding experience for both students and keyboarding experts.



The decade of the '90s has introduced a revolutionary forum for the dissemination of information from instructor to student. The traditional classroom in which instructor and students are placed in the confines of four walls is in some educational establishments being supplemented by a new concept known as distance learning. Distance learning (DL) is used to provide instructional programs to those students who are separated physically from the instructor. Moore and Kearsley describe DL as that education that "...occurs in a different place from teaching and as a result requires special techniques of course design, special instructional design, special instructional techniques, special methods of communication by electronic and other technology, as well as special organizational and administrative arrangements."

Distance learning courses have been implemented at several colleges and universities in the country, and at the State University of West Georgia both distance learning initiatives and on-line learning have been used for the past two years to diversify curricular offerings. The Business Education Unit within the Richards College of Business has been one of the leaders in offering distance learning classes in the Southeast. Business education courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels have been taught in this environment. Graduate courses have been specifically designed for distance learning formats to allow students who are physically removed from the campus to continue their graduate studies.



The purpose of this experiment was to determine the feasibility of offering Strategies of Teaching Keyboarding as an on-line Internet-based course to graduate students at the State University of West Georgia. The program used for this class was WebCT, a tool that facilitates on-line learning on the World Wide Web.



The following definitions are included to assist the reader and interested researchers in interpreting selected terms as they apply to this study:


The following procedures were used to develop the course, provide instruction, and promote interaction between the instructor and students during the ten-week Strategies of Teaching Keyboarding class.

Preliminary Planning. The primary purpose of this course was to identify and discuss successful methods for teaching keyboarding. During the Christmas holidays of 1997, the instructor--Dr. Jack E. Johnson--requested the collaboration of colleagues across the nation to participate in the course by discussing methodology with students who would be enrolled in the class. These visiting "experts" were invited to share their views and opinions on teaching keyboarding with students via e-mail correspondence and in "chat rooms" provided in WebCT.

Selection of Keyboarding "Experts": A total of 31 business educators from 27 states volunteered to participate in this class and work with the students. All keyboarding "experts" were identified through (1) e-mail addresses of business educators who participated in the 1998 NBEA Convention in San Antonio, Texas, [as listed in a Business Education Forum fall 1997 issue] and (2) professional contacts known to the authors of the study. Educators from the following states participated in this study (See Table 1 below).

Class Structure. The class met for 10 weeks, from January 5 to March 9, 1998. The first class meeting on January 5 was scheduled on-site at West Georgia for all but 5 of the 26 students. These students, who were located approximately 150 miles from campus, received a videotape of the class. Two additional on-site classes were held, one on February 2 and one on March 9. The remaining seven classes were conducted via the Internet, using WebCT as the medium for class activities. Classes met from 4:45 to 9:15 p.m. on Monday evenings throughout the 10-week session.

Table 1

States Participating in the Georgia Experiment
Arizona Kentucky Ohio
Arkansas Louisiana Pennsylvania
California Michigan South Carolina
Colorado Missouri Tennessee
Georgia Montana Texas
Idaho Nebraska Utah
Illinois New Jersey Virginia
Indiana North Carolina Washington
Iowa North Dakota Wisconsin

Class Assignments. The purpose of the class was to discuss keyboarding methodology. Students were assigned two major projects in the class:

Students were formed into groups to identify questions that would be appropriate for addressing each of the above topic areas. A total of 118 questions were identified; and, after eliminating all similar, duplicate, and/or irrelevant questions, the class focused on 86 questions to pursue. Of the 86 questions, the instructor accented 26 questions considered essential to keyboarding instruction. These 26 questions were asked of several "keyboarding experts" so that responses could be compared and discussed. The remaining 60 questions were addressed individually by only one expert. The following questions were asked of the keyboarding experts. (Note: the starred items indicate questions that were asked of more than one expert.)

Table 2

Topical Areas of Discussion
1. Evaluation in Keyboarding
2. Teaching Keyboarding in the Middle School
3. Teaching Keyboarding to Ninth Graders
4. Teaching Production in Keyboarding
5. Teaching Skillbuilding in Keyboarding
6. Teaching Software/Technology in Keyboarding
7. Teaching Special Needs in Keyboarding
8. Teaching Speed and Accuracy in Keyboarding
9. Philosophy of Teaching Keyboarding
10. Teaching Technique in Keyboarding

Evaluation in Keyboarding

*25. How many errors should be allowed when a student starts typing 1-minute timed writings? How many errors should be allowed in a 3-minute timed writing? In a 5-minute timed writing?

*39. What are the weights and categories that you use for grading in a first semester keyboarding course?

*47. What weight do you give to typing technique, timings, document processing, tests, etc. to determine the final grade in a beginning keyboarding class?

Teaching Keyboarding in the Middle School

*60. What purposes and goals should keyboarding have in middle school given the course only lasts 45 days and word processing, spreadsheets, and other skills must be taught as well?

*61. Should beginning keyboarding be taught in the elementary grades, in middle school, or in high school?

*81. Our school system is proposing to teach beginning keyboarding in the elementary grades. If this is done, who should teach the course and what training should they have. What role can high school business teacher play in this arrangement?

Teaching Keyboarding to Ninth Graders

*20. If you had to teach a 9-week course of keyboarding (with 90-minute class periods) to ninth grade students, what would you cover?

Teaching Production in Keyboarding

*6. What should be measured in a production test? How often should you test a student's production skills?

Teaching Skillbuilding in Keyboarding

2. How many alphabetic letters should be introduced in each lesson?

*16. How much time should be spent in presenting the alphabetic keyboard?

Teaching Software/Technology in Keyboarding

*42. What do you predict the impact of voice input technology will be on keyboard usage and instruction?

*80. What advancements in technology are going to have the greatest impact on teaching keyboarding in the next two or three years?

Teaching Special Needs in Keyboarding

*21. What type of modifications should be made for teaching keyboarding to special needs students?

Teaching Speed and Accuracy in Keyboarding

*8. Upon completing a beginning keyboarding class, how many wpm should the average student be able to type? Have you found that the average is consistent from class to class? What errors do you consistently see and what recommendations do you make to the students to correct them?

*29. During a nine-week keyboarding course, what should be the timed writing goal for the course?

*50. Can a timed writing that is repeated be an accurate predictor of a student's skill in keyboarding? How often can a timed writing be repeated before it no longer represents a student's true skill?

*57. What should be stressed more--speed or accuracy? Why?

*66. What are some effective techniques or practices for improving accuracy?

*67. What are some effective techniques or practices for improving speed?

Teaching Strategies/Philosophy of Keyboarding

*22. At what grade level should keyboarding instruction be introduced?

*41. Do you feel that having students graph gross words on 30-second and 1-minute speed and accuracy drills is an effective motivation strategy?

*49. What method of teaching number typing do you suggest?

*62. What are the top three things (key elements) that a beginning typist must do consistently to become a good typist?

Teaching Technique in Keyboarding

*34. What is the best way to evaluate technique? How often do you grade technique?

*86. How do you break the habit of looking at the keys when typing?

Assignment of Students, Questions, and Keyboarding Experts. Students were assigned questions at random from the total of 86 questions. To obtain an even distribution of questions and experts, each student was assigned 8 or 9 questions and 3 or 4 experts. Each expert received no more than 3 questions from each student. The questions and experts were assigned at random, giving the distribution of students, questions, and experts shown in Table 3 below.

Table 3

Assignment of Questions and Authorities



Keyboarding Expert
Beiter 6, 17, 25, 30, 42, 57, 65, 66, 86 Chiri, Imdieke, Perry
Brown 10, 13, 21, 31, 34, 49, 61, 68, 80 Chiri, Imdieke, Perry
Campbell 6, 17, 25, 32, 42, 57, 67, 69, 86 Cooper, Joyner, Prigge
Clifton 11, 13, 21, 33, 34, 49, 62, 70, 80 Cooper, Joyner, Prigge
Copeland 6, 17, 35, 60, 67, 71, 72, 80, 86 Crews, Klemin, Rankin
Evans 6, 17, 25, 37, 47, 60, 67, 73, 86 Durkee, LaBarre, Rice
Griggs 4, 13, 21, 38, 39, 50, 62, 74, 80 Durkee, LaBarre, Rice
Hager 6, 17, 29, 40, 47, 60, 67, 75, 86 Eklund, Lewis, Roach
Hames 13, 15, 22, 39, 41, 50 62, 76 Eklund, Lewis, Roach, Toole
Hawkins 6, 20, 29, 43, 47, 60, 67, 77, 86 McCannon, Salce, Switzer
Johnson 13, 18, 22, 39, 44, 50, 62, 79, 80 McCannon, Salce, Switzer
Kelley 1, 8, 20, 29, 45, 47, 60, 67, 82 Fisher-Larson, McCauley, Schepf
Kowalsky 16, 19, 22, 39, 46, 50, 62, 83 Crews, Fisher-Larson, McCauley, Schepf
McClung 2, 8, 20, 29, 47, 48, 60, 78, 84 Gordon, McElvey, Schultz
Miller 16, 22, 23, 39, 50, 51, 66, 81, 85 Gordon, McElvey, Schultz
Mitchell 3, 8, 20, 29, 34, 47, 52, 61, 78 Greathouse, Meche, Swanson
Morris 16, 22, 24, 39, 49, 53, 57, 66, 81 Greathouse, Meche, Swanson
Odom 4, 8, 20, 29, 49, 54, 61, 67, 78 Greene, Moore, Zeliff
Owenby 16, 22, 26, 42, 55, 57, 62, 66, 81 Greene, Moore, Zeliff
Pecht 5, 8, 20, 34, 49, 56, 61, 66 Harrin, Klemin, Morgan, Toole
Roberts 16, 17, 25, 27, 42, 57, 58, 66, 81 Harrin, Henson, Ober
Shealy 7, 8, 21, 22, 34, 49, 59, 61, 78 Henson, Ober, Chambers
Vermillion 16, 25, 28, 39, 42, 57, 63, 66 Holmes, Morgan, Patton, Rankin
Walcott 9, 17, 20, 21, 34, 49, 61, 64, 78 Chambers, Holmes, Patton

Collection of Responses. After the experts and questions had been identified, students were instructed to e-mail their assigned questions to the experts, asking for a response to each question. In the initial e-mail contact, students were asked to (1) identify themselves as being students in ABE 820 at West Georgia, (2) provide the expert a brief synopsis of themselves, (3) state the questions to be asked, and (4) ask for a response to each of the questions.

On-Line Activities. At the beginning of the class, students logged on to the World Wide Web and proceeded to the West Georgia home page. From there they accessed the home page for ABE 820, Instructional Strategies for Teaching Keyboarding. Several links were available on the home page and several were created to allow students to access information for the course, receive or send messages, obtain the syllabus, review class notes, participate in on-line chat sessions, and receive other information from the instructor. A sample of some of the home page "links" is shown in Illustration 1 below.

After e-mail responses had been received from the experts, students were ready to share and discuss their findings with the other class members. At 4:45 p.m., students logged on to the ABE 820 home page, using a preassigned user name and password. All 31 keyboarding experts were also assigned a unique user name and password so that they could participate in the class any evening they preferred. 

Illustration 1.


  • On-line Chat
  • Private Mail
  • Chat Progress
  • Syllabus
  • Lessons
  • Authority Assignments
  • Internet Participants
  • Keyboarding Questions 
  • Chat Room Notes
  • Group Work

From the home page, students accessed Chat Room 1 from the Online Chat icon. Chat Room 1 was one of four that could be accessed in WebCT during class sessions, as shown in Illustration 2 below.

Illustration 2.


For the first few minutes of class, the instructor focused on specific methodology issues that had been identified from the master list of questions. Students were then assigned to one of four chat rooms where they could discuss specific questions in detail. To discuss the 26 critical questions, all students assigned that question were placed in the same chat room. The instructor opened all four chat rooms to observe the discussions that were taking place, inputting remarks and directing the discussion to specific issues. At the end of a specified timetypically 15 to 20
minutesstudents were directed to return to Chat Room 1 where each of the four groups summarized their discussions.

A partial chat room discussion appears in Illustration 3 below. Note that the instructor's comments appear in all caps, while student input appears in upper and lower case. This format was set intentionally so that students would immediately recognize the instructor's and/or keyboarding experts' responses from the students' responses.

Illustration 3.

In this particular chat session, Dr. Alexa North from the State University of West Georgia and Dr. Terry Roach from Arkansas State University visited the chat room and participated as experts in the discussion. The window appearing at the right of the chat room notes is used to let the instructor know which students have logged on to the chat room. In Illustration 3, 6 students, 2 keyboarding experts, and the instructor were engaged in the discussion. Other students were involved in discussions in Chat Rooms 2, 3, and 4.

Posted Chat Room Notes. At the end of class, the instructor posted chat room conversations on the WebCT home page so that students could review all discussions that took place in the various chat rooms, even though they may have spent the entire evening assigned to a different chat room. The posted chat rooms appeared as links from the home page as shown in Illustration 4 below.

Illustration 4.

Keyboarding Expert Responses and Student Reactions. At the end of the course, students had to submit the responses they received from each of the keyboarding experts assigned to them (See Table 3 above). In addition, they had to provide reactions to the expert's position on a particular issue, agreeing or disagreeing with the expert's response. Since some issues were responded to by more than one expert, varying opinions were gathered on 26 critical keyboarding questions. The end result was a 109-page document that contained all questions, expert responses, and student reactions. The document was saved to a disk and shared with all students as well as with all participating keyboarding experts. Since the document was organized by the topic areas identified in Table 2, it will become an extremely useful "help file" for both beginning and veteran teachers who are assigned to teach keyboarding classes at their schools. An example of Page 42 of 109 from the methodology document is shown in Illustration 5 below.

Illustration 5.

Students' Perspectives

The success of this experiment must be measured in part by the reactions of students who participated in this study. Overall, student perceptions were very high, partly because of the opportunity they had to enroll in a graduate course that would have otherwise been impossible because of their physical isolation from the campus site.
Other incentives were mentioned, however, that lead the researchers to conclude that this experimental classroom was an overwhelming success that should be repeated when the course is next offered. Following are some of the comments made by the students in the class:

Recommendations for Further Study

Although the on-line keyboarding methodology course was considered a tremendous success, several changes will be made when the course is again offered at West Georgia. The authors make the following recommendations to improve this on-line course:


This article has provided considerable support for the premise that distance learning can be a rewarding experience for both students and instructor. It is not solely the environment that determines the success or failure of learning. Whether instructor and students are located within the same four walls of a classroom or separated by great distances is not the only factor to consider when measuring to what extent learning has taken place. As Simonson (1995) stated in his article, "It is well documented that students do not learn any better at a distance, nor do they learn any less. Considerations other than distance have greater impact on learning."
Through this experiment, the researchers have recognized the value that technology plays in providing a quality learning environment. Distance learning will continue to be perceived as an acceptable teaching and learning strategy only if the quality of learning that takes place is perceived as equal to all students, both those in the classroom and those at the remote sites. Based on student and expert reactions to this experimental course, the authors believe that distance learning as evidenced in this experiment was both positive and rewarding for all participants.


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Biographical Statement

Dr. Jack E. Johnson is Director of Business and a Professor in the Department of Management and Business Systems, Richards College of Business, at the State University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118. Phone: 770-836-6475; Fax: 770-836-6774; E-mail:

Dr. Terry D. Roach is Director of Graduate Business Programs, and an Associate Professor of Business Systems in the College of Business at Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR 72467. Phone: 870-972-3035; Fax: 870-972-3744; E-mail:

Mr. Roderick Hames is a Computer Science Teacher at Alton C. Crews Middle School, 1000 Old Snellville Hwy., Lawrenceville, GA 30044. Phone: 770-982-6957; Fax: 770-982-6942; E-mail:

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume II, Number I, Spring 1999
State University of West Georgia, Distance Education

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