This Keyboard Invention Could Completely Change the Way Kids Learn to Type

A pair of inventive college students hope that their gadget will soon become the standard in elementary schools.

Courtesy-Joel-CruzIn their sophomore year of college, Will Klingner and Jeff Weinert noticed a big difference between their studying habits and the rest of their classmates’. “We were in class one day, and we noticed that we were the only ones taking notes by hand,” Klingner told Reader’s Digest. “Everyone else was typing them.”

Klingner and Weinert both agreed that they hand-wrote their notes because it helped the information stick in their minds more (handwriting your notes is scientifically proven to help you remember better). Forming the letters allowed muscle memory to kick in, something that typing on a keyboard doesn’t really allow. However, as typing and computers become more and more popular, even for academia, students of all ages lose this benefit. So Klingner and Weinert came up with an idea. “We wanted to create a keyboard that would recreate the tactile sensation of handwriting without changing the feeling of typing,” Klingner said. “Each key would be raised, so that [the keyboard] would engage both visual and tactile learners.”

So they began making prototypes of keycap surfaces and having their University of Richmond classmates test them out. On each key was a raised version of the letter, so that users could feel the letters they typed instead of just seeing them. After these tests, they settled on a single design that they brought to elementary schools. Children of many different ages took typing tests using keyboards with and without the covers. The results were pretty impressive. Overall, the kids made 40 percent fewer errors with the raised keyboards. “They could feel when they hit the wrong key,” Klingner explained. We bet you never knew why your keyboard has those little bumps on the F and the J.

Courtesy-Joel-CruzThe pair began pitching their invention and eventually got an investment from a local businessman, who helped them finance it. They got a patent for their invention and began selling it in a low-cost form called Keybodo. Keybodo is not an actual keyboard but a stretchy sleeve that goes over a keyboard, containing raised letters. Now college graduates, Klingner and Weinert have sold Keybodo to some online retailers, university bookstores, and computer repair stores. Here’s why you should clean your laptop right now.

However, they have no intention of stopping there. They hope that this “Tactile Character Recognition” technique will eventually become the norm for teaching children how to type. In their trials, younger children seemed to respond better to it. A fourth grade class that was fairly new to typing showed a 64 percent improvement in accuracy and typing speed, while the keyboard “wasn’t as effective” with seventh graders, who’d been typing for a few years already.

Many of the teachers they spoke to still have very young children trace letters to learn the shape of them. “But as we transition to keyboards over the next five or 10 years, this is gonna be lost,” said Klingner. “It’s gonna be harder for kids to form the letters when they’re just entering them into a computer.” Klingner feels that his and Weinert’s invention is “the necessary next step” for education in the digital age.

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Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.