THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
In 2002 John Christensen invented the Alphabet keyboard, inspired by his own daughter´s literally learning to type on the computer. She had difficulties to figure out the sensitive RED vowels and BLUE consonants from book to computer. Seven years later, in July 2009 John Christensen, Chriba.dk, contacts Martin Lindved from Børnehaveklasseleder.dk and together they start a collaboration. In August 2009 this leads to the testing of the Alphabet keyboard and the startup of a project at Skansevejen School in Fredericia.
Alphabet keyboard is a visual tool that gives young children, pupils and teachers an easier approach to the digital world that is used in preschool and schools.
The main target for the project at Skansevejen School was 160 children in the ages 5 -10 years from preschool up to 3rd grade. The secondary target group was 45 students from autism classes in the age of 9 - 15 years and a general survey of pupils´ perception and use of Alphabet keyboard at all grade from 1 – 9 on PCs used by Education Teaching Institutions.
The project's overall objective is to identify the opportunities the Alphabet keyboard holds for the future of digital teaching in public and private schools. We also wanted to know if it can be proved that the Alphabet keyboard has a beneficial effect on children's learning of letters and if it makes learning and using of PC more efficient.
The Alphabet keyboard can help several groups of learners all over the world in all languages for example children, bilingual persons, adults, dyslexics and people with diagnoses of ADHD.
In 2009 Chriba.dk and Børnehaveklasseleder.dk signed a collaboration agreement where we would investigate the function of the Alphabet keyboard in a typical Danish school.
Initially all 40 laptops were converted into PCs with Alphabet keyboard. This was done by means of stickers on the letter keys of the laptops. All PCs in the kindergarten classes were equipped with Alphabet keyboard and so even in the school library. We started many different activities and workshops where both Alphabet keyboard and ordinary keyboards were used. We also wanted to integrate the Alphabet keyboard throughout the school and evaluate the use of the PCs.
We wanted to document the progress trough photos and video and publish results on Chriba.dk and Børnehaveklasseleder.dk. The activities and the way we look at the project are seen from every child´s individual needs, abilities and learning style.
Inventor of the Alphabet Keyboard John Christensen states that 96 percent of written text is case sensitive. With that in mind, the pupil´s visual experience with the letters will mostly be in lower case, and therefore they are also the symbols they look for on the keyboard. The results confirmed this theory. Martin Lindved says that a few weeks after the Alphabet Keyboard was created on the PCs at Skansevejen School he was stopped by a colleague in the hallway: "Martin, it's weird about the keyboard. Several of the second year students could not log in with their old keyboard, but with the Alphabet keyboard they manage.
On the whole the pupils were 30% to 60% faster on the Alphabet keyboard and in some cases twice as fast. It was interesting to follow the pupils’ different strategies to solve the tasks. One of the strategies the pupils used was running the index finger systematically in the three letter rows. On the standard keyboard the finger run over all the keys and often the pupils tried to use the numbers as a solution.
This strategy proved to be repeated by several first, second and third year pupils – which supports the theoretical cognition framework for the project, which is based on visual learning. With this strategy, the colours on the Alphabet keyboard help to limit the field to only the letters. This obviously had a big impact on how quickly the pupils could do the job.
The Alphabet keyboard has undoubtedly proved to have a significant impact on the effectiveness of teaching. The pupils skip unnecessary obstacles and we can get started more quickly with the purpose of the teaching. The teacher can use the PC as a tool for learning and not just for training in the use of the PC. It is the small obstacles that waste time among the pupils. The Alphabet keyboard has proven that it can be used to reduce this wasted time significantly.
The project at Skansevejens School in Fredericia, Denmark has proved that the Alphabet keyboard undoubtedly has a beneficial effect on children’s learning of letters. This can be seen, measured and evaluated. The Alphabet keyboard can also make learning and the use of the PC more efficient for both pupils and individual teachers in schools.
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
The project Alphabet Keyboard was chosen for its consistency with the European Criteria in many ways. It has been proved to have a significant impact on the effectiveness of teaching. The pupils skip unnecessary obstacles and can get started more quickly with the purpose of the teaching. The teacher thus can use the PC as a tool for learning in a more efficient way.
They have started many different activities and workshops where Alphabet keyboard were used. They have also integrated the Alphabet keyboard throughout the whole primary school. The activities and the way they look at the project are seen from every child´s individual needs, skills and learning manner.
The alphabet keyboard is an original and creative invention. It has opened up previous unknown approaches to learning from preschool up to the first secondary school. The project at Skansevejens School in Fredericia, Denmark has proved that the Alphabet keyboard undoubtedly has a beneficial effect on children’s learning of letters as well as on the management of computer technology. This can be seen, measured and evaluated.
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