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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Typing as catalyst for ICT adaption


A call was made recently for the introduction of typing skill at the elementary levels of education. REMMY NWEKE in this report observed that typing has become a catalyst for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) adaptation.


Preamble:
AT this era of globalization, individual’s writing skills make a lot of difference, especially when they are visible and could be codified at all times. And over the years, writing has taking various forms to include handwriting and most lately type writing.

Handwriting versus typewriting:
Something written by hand is recognized as handwritten and could be either legible or illegible and most of the times people seem to forget their handwriting if it has taken a longer time and years. Thus, activities of writing by hand, which involves a pen or pencil, have been discovered to be slow and painful for those with arthritis, according to some writing experts known as graphologists.

On the other hand, the 2009 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary by Houghton Mifflin Company defined type-writing as an act, process or skill of using a typewriter, which the Free Online Dictionary described as a “writing machine that produces characters similar to typeset print by means of a manually operated keyboard that put into action a set of raised types, which strike the paper through an inked ribbon.”

Initially when the typewriting method came into the country, most people abhor it with many schools seeing it as non-relevant course apart from a handful of entrepreneurs who invariably saw the future and began to offer training on type-writing alongside others referred hitherto as ‘commercial subjects’.

From typing to computer centres:
Investigations by ITRealms Online revealed that when eventually mere typewriting came to the front burner with the emergence of Personal Computers, mostly in the 80’s, it was obvious for those supposed ‘commercial schools’ to transform into computer training institutions or centres as they are now mostly called.

This is basic, given the fact that typewriters both manual and electronic as well as computers have the same kind of keyboard otherwise known as QWERTY keyboard, which is the most commonly used modern keyboard layout on English-language and even in various languages like abound in Nigeria with a multilingual keyboard like Konyin.

Typing standpoint:
Experts at another free online dictionary, Webopedia said that QWERTY keyboard, is an arrangement of keys on a standard English computer keyboard or typewriter designed in 1868 by Christopher Sholes, the inventor of the typewriter himself.

Historically, Sholes was reported to have arranged the keys in their odd fashion to prevent jamming on mechanical typewriters through the separation of commonly used letter combinations, which eventually slow down fast typing until one becomes a master of its usage or the keys.

Though, there exist another keyboard call Dvorak with the emergence of ball-head electric typewriters and computer keyboards, these new keyboards have not received wide acceptance like that of QWERTY by Sholes.

The managing director of a United Kingdom-based, Fingertips Typing and Transcription Services Company, Ms. Catherine Bennett, said that at first, all writing was done by hand and traced the history of type-writing to the first patent ever on typewriter by Henry Mill.

Ms Bennett said, Mill’s idea was entered in the records in the British Patent Office in 1714, but could not manufacture his machine due to impatience with manufacturing it. Several other typewriters modules were invented after Mill’s attempt.

Nevertheless, the later typewriters were huge and heavy, even as some resembled the size of a piano, and took actually longer to use than handwriting itself, which obviously defeated the purpose.

So, she also attributed the first precise manufacturing of practical typewriter to Christopher Sholes assisted by the duo of Messrs S.W. Soule and G. Glidden. Sholes patented his second model in 1868, which eventually surpassed the speed of mere handwriting. Later Sholes sold the rights of the typewriter over to Densmore, and Densmore who enhanced the typewriter and it’s usability by using Philo Remington to market the machine.

“It was not an instant success however. The first Sholes and Glidden typewriter was offered for sale in 1873. It was not until a few years later that Remington’s engineers worked on the device and improved it, that it became a success and sales rocketed,” she stated in a contribution to ezinearticles.com, while the first typewriter sold for $125, about N17,000, and so, the surge continued until the invention and market eclipse that saw personal computers in the market place, hence, Typewriters assumed common place in offices as at late 1880s.

Have you passed your RSA?

Until 1950s, she said, when Tippex was invented for clearing of errors on type-writing and by 1970’s most students had to complete a Royal Society of Art (RSA) Certificate of competence in typing, which in Nigeria was still very much up take for any worthy Secretary or those who want to major in commercial subjects till mid-1990s; prelude to the manifestation of computers which have continued to surge till date.

Today, ITRealms Online gathered that computers have various types; from mainframes to desktops and laptops and notebooks, which could be simply accommodated in a lady’s handbag and has continue to an extent that even mobile handsets are now being made to serve similar purpose with wireless facility like Bluetooth keyboards, all with the QWERTY model.

Introduce typing in primary schools now:
Therefore, typewriting has become an essential part of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) evolution date, hence it was not out of place for the current president of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu to clamour for the introduction of all this essential element into the curriculum of schools in a budding ICT nation like Nigeria, starting with primary schools.

Obviously worried by the poor application of technological tools nowadays, especially among the youth, Mr. Omo-Ettu said that Nigeria needs to introduce ‘type-writing’ at the primary school levels, which has become very important on the fact that typing is now a way of life in this era, where every actor needs to key in whatever they wish to communicate to one another, be it a Short Messaging Service (SMS), electronic mail (email) and usage of computers for data gathering and dissemination.

Omo-Ettu told participants at a one-day seminar by the ICT Directorate of Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) in conjunction with the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) and supported by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that the time has come for the government to make typing tutorials compulsory starting with primary schools.

Dwelling on “Unfinished business of the ‘Learning to Earn’ Campaign in Nigeria” he commended NIG leadership under Mr. Lanre Ajayi, for its struggle on positive application of ‘access’, among others who made the first move to bring Nigeria into the internet knowledge.

Unfinished business of skill adaptation:
At the beginning, about 15 years ago, he recalled that stakeholders were more interested in awareness and Information Technology (IT) appreciation, noting that Internet has simplified, faster, clearer and potentially cheaper information transfer tool than any other tool preceding it. Stressing that Nigeria’s movement team at inception for IT applications did a good job with several parts including the articulations of demands to be fulfilled by the government, yet much were still untouched.

Part of what were outlined comprised of commencing internet awareness in the country to make things faster, better, and cheaper as well as that jobs would be provided on a larger scale.

He said, they pointed out that there was unlimited access to global information and therefore, there is market; the opportunities would be unlimited; IT skills were critical and desirable as well as that government should invest in IT resources.

He decried the fact that they did not stress that skills from fundamental levels were critical, lamenting that they gave the impression that once one is an IT-literate, his or her life would change, noting that they had underlined literacy, but not proficiency.

“We did not stress typing in primary schools but we asked that computer training be introduced in schools. We did not ask for change of content of engineering curriculum to veer towards business but we asked that computing processes be emphasized,” he said.

Omo-Ettu also said that they had clamoured that content of education had to change to underscore productivity, just as they did not tell the governments that attitudes matter and even essential to growth.

This, he attributed to the government officials reacting ‘positively’ by buying computers, a lot as furniture for their offices; schools, where IT was emphasized, talked about computers and browsing; yet, they did not emphasize the art of typing to skills level, pointing out that it should be made the tool to a solution but is an end in itself.

15 years after …
For him, it is lamentable that 15 years after the campaign started, Nigeria still produce graduate journalists who cannot type their stories and graduate engineers who cannot solve problems, simply because they were not computer literate, as well as still producing lawyers who write their draft long hand for others to type out for them. He underscored the fact that the time for change is now because jobs presently require that this skill be available.

As said by him, ‘solutions’ not mere ‘presence at a desk’ is required at this 21st century for anyone to gain meaningful employment and urged Nigerian school system to teach ethics which was called civics, insisting, “Let all school children type before leaving primary school and let our graduate engineers know business; Let the need for a tool precede the acquisition of the tool,” he counseled.

… It’s a skill required for information society
Commenting on this subject, e-learning facilitator and chief executive of Nsukka-based Hugtech, Mr. Uche Ugochukwu Emma, said typing should be seen as skill for pupils, pointing out that typing skill is a requirement for one to function effectively in the emerging information society. Therefore, he endorsed the call for typing to be introduced in primary schools as part of ICT appreciation courses.

Conclusion
It is no longer a secret that any nation that wants to excel in this era must adapt ICT with the fundamental element being typing and the earlier we begin to inculcate this into the education system and implementing to the letter this call to include it in the curricular, we may be setting the wrong step for the youths.
And beginning this adaptation at the primary schools could be likened to training a child very early in life with right morals and when he or she grow-up, would never depart from it.


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1 comment:

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