As the explosion in digital communications continues to be blamed for the demise of legible handwriting in schools, a new online venture is using technology to revive the lost art handwriting.
Fontself is using cutting-edge technology to make handwriting fashionable amongst school-kids again.
The free service, which was launched in October this year, enables individuals to type in their own handwriting or create new personalised fonts.
Fontself CEO and co-founder Franz Hoffman believes that in common with other developed countries, Britons are eschewing the handwritten word in favour of technological alternatives: “It’s almost like we’ve developed a fear of handwriting,” he says. “The vast majority of people choose keyboards, mobiles, email and other technologies as the fast and easy alternative.”
Fontself aims to reverse this trend by encouraging educators to use the service in the classroom without compromising IT and Internet literacy. Fontself’s Creator allows you to use your own handwriting across sites such as Facebook and Yahoo Mail.
“By making handwriting cool, we believe Fontself has huge potential to improve handwriting in the classroom,” argues Hoffman. The technology and its potential to act as ‘a silent handwriting exercise’ help educators who are struggling with increasing levels of illegible script amongst students.
In 2008, academics from Warwick University claimed bad handwriting limited exam success rates by up to 40 percent.
At the same time, GSCE and A-level examiners were encouraging more students to request scribes in examinations where their handwriting was deemed illegible. Students were given permission to request a scribe for examinations if they were unable to handwrite more than 10 legible words per minute.
Over the past seven years, handwriting in the UK education system has deteriorated to the point where it is now included in the UK’s national literacy strategy. Much of this is attributed to the digital communication technologies that no longer require the written hand.
The Fontself philosophy is ‘to make handwriting cool again’ by using technology to increase the perceived value of penmanship. Fontself believes that as teachers and students further utilise the service, new and valuable educational strategies will emerge.
“As an educational tool, the potential for this technology is virtually limitless,” says Hoffman. “We’re already seeing thousands of young people all over the world use Fontself to personalise Facebook messages with their own handwriting. This is a huge step towards reviving the art of handwriting amongst kids who have grown up in a world dominated by standard word processing fonts like Helvetica, Arial and Times New Roman.”