If I Have Poor Typing Skills, Can I Still Go to College Online?

typing-skills-for-online-collegeDistance learning gives everyone an opportunity to take classes at their own pace and attend lectures on their own schedule, but if you don’t have a lot of experience using a computer, you may wonder if you need strong typing skills for online college.

Typing skills are useful for quickly writing essays and joining online lectures and labs held in chat rooms, but there are alternatives to typing on a keyboard that let most people type 50 words per minute or more.

Online College Accessibility

Voice-to-text software automatically transcribes your voice as you speak, and depending on how fast your computer is, this software can create text documents on your computer as quickly as you naturally speak. If you don’t like typing or you just have a lousy keyboard, transcription software provides a useful alternative. However, if you have a disability that makes it difficult to type, your online college is required to make arrangements to accommodate you in any way you need. In this case, transcription software can probably make it easier to type, and you are most likely eligible for disability scholarships to pay for the software and much of your education.

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If you have trouble typing as well as a speech impediment, your college is still required to make online courses accessible to you. However, you won’t be able to type 50 words per minute using the technology that lets you dictate words without typing or speaking. Software similar to the dictation program physicist Stephen Hawking uses allows you to choose words in much the same way that a smartphone keyboard makes suggestions as you type.

As you choose letters of a word, the software suggests common words until you type enough letters to find the word you’re looking for. As you use this software, it learns your writing habits and gets better at suggesting words. Transcription software also works this way, and dictating text to the software teaches it to recognize your accent so that fewer errors are made in the transcription.

Other Keyboard Alternatives

There are other alternatives to using a keyboard, such as the software application Dasher, which allows you to choose letters using a mouse. It works in a way similar to a smartphone keyboard in that you choose one letter at a time, but the way you choose letters is a lot different.

All the letters of the alphabet are displayed on one side of the screen, and you choose a letter by pointing the cursor at it. When you choose a letter, the software takes you down a path through words beginning with the chosen letter. To continue down the path, you point the cursor at the word choices it shows you as the screen moves to the left. Using this software takes some getting used to because the entire screen moves as you choose letters, a little like a side-scrolling video game such as Super Mario Brothers or Castlevania. You can control how quickly the screen moves with the mouse, and most people eventually get the hang of typing this way.

College attendance continues to grow as fewer high-paying jobs become available without a degree. Online college makes it easier to attend college while keeping up with other obligations. If you want to take advantage of distance learning, there’s really no need to worry about the required typing skills for online college.