Peripheral Word Processing Keyboards-An Alternative

Schools, libraries, and businesses are turning to peripheral word processing keyboards, the best known of which is the AlphaSmart, to do word processing tasks. The peripheral word processing keyboard is a simple yet effective product that supports student writing. We'll look at the many reasons that schools are turning to peripheral word processing keyboards instead of purchasing a computer for the classroom. Also, we'll examine the countless ways of using these keyboards. Finally, we'll examine some studies that are beginning to emerge that show the use of peripheral word processing keyboard increases student achievement in language arts.

Reasons for Investing in a Peripheral Word Processing Keyboard

There are many reasons that schools are increasingly investing in peripheral word processing keyboards. The first and obvious reason is that for the price of one computer, you can buy several keyboards to do the most common jobs that are often done on the computer, such as word processing or typing-related tasks. The batteries last for approximately 300 hours. These wireless keyboards are independent of the computers while students are typing the text in, freeing up the computer for more advanced work. An additional feature is that the keyboard is virtually unbreakable. It is made from durable bicycle helmet material. The device's smaller keyboard is a good size for the student's hand, and the small, integrated screen makes it very portable for young kids. The Denver Public Schools are using these intelligent keyboards because they: a) increase keyboarding proficiency without having to use a high-end computer, b) support the writing process, c) utilize students as teachers through increased collaboration, d) enable the formation of workgroups, and e) allow technology integration to take place in the classroom without the constraint of scheduling lab time to meet the needs of a large group.

Ways of Using Peripheral Word Processing Keyboard

The peripheral word processing keyboard is being used very creatively. Here are some examples:

  • The North Bend Library in Oregon uses it to solve the problem of long waiting time for computers. If a person needs to do research they use the peripheral word processing keyboard anyplace in the library and this frees up a computer.
  • Anaheim Public Library in California put peripheral word processing keyboard in three branches of their libraries and discovered that they were a hit for word processing, typing practice, and research.
  • At Wyoming Elementary School in Millburn, New Jersey, students take their peripheral word processing keyboard to field trips with them to type in what they observe.
  • Connecticut State University and several schools in the state took part in using the peripheral word processing keyboard under the company's loaner program. A researcher found that students are using it for enrichment activities, note taking and various other activities that require writing.
  • In addition, peripheral word processing keyboards are being used in schools to complete reports, facilitate journal writing, allow for typing practice, and can even replace some paper and pencil functions.