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Published in Print: March 31, 1999, as Publishers Cashing In On Keyboarding Products

Publishers Cashing In On Keyboarding Products

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Textbooks on computer keyboarding date back at least to 1986, when South-Western Educational Publishing began selling one titled Keyboarding, Formatting, and Document Processing.

At about the same time, the Cincinnati-based company published what may have been the first software program designed to teach keyboarding to elementary school pupils. Now titled Paws in Typing Town, the program was recently purchased by SRA/McGraw-Hill, a division of the McGraw-Hill Co. in New York City. "It's selling tremendously well," said Karen E. Fox, a marketing manager for SRA/McGraw-Hill.

Type to Learn, another popular software program, was first released in 1988 by Sunburst Communications Inc. of Pleasantville, N.Y. The program was developed by Marjorie Cole, a special education and resource teacher for the Lawrence, Kan., public schools.

At the time, Ms. Cole recalled, a lot of people didn't believe young children could learn to type.

"Children were being expected to write things on word processors without being taught how to type," Ms. Cole said. "I said, 'We aren't doing first things first.' " Ms. Cole and members of her family who helped with the computer programming have made nearly $1 million on royalties from sales of the original program and its subsequent versions.

Integrating Phonics

A software program published in 1989--originally called Talking Fingers but updated in 1995 as Read, Write & Type!--takes a different tack in that it links the typing skills with phonics. When the program tells children to type "f," for example, it also provides audio for the letter's sound. The program asks the children to type sounds together to make words. Read, Write & Type! is now the second-best-selling language arts product of The Learning Co., based in Cambridge, Mass.

Not all typing programs used in schools are software programs. In 1989, Stuart Herzog, a lawyer in Tucson, Ariz., created a patented keyboard attachment and the Herzog textbook for teaching children where letters are on the keyboard according to how they first learn them--in alphabetical order.

Companies have recently started to design software programs on typing for preschoolers or children just starting school. Sunburst Communications, for instance, plans to release Type to Learn Jr., for kindergartners through 2nd graders, in June.

Vol. 18, Issue 29, Page 13

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