Equipment | Posture & Seating |
Medical Complications | Definition | Additional Resources | Video
Ergonomics in the Classroom
Ergonomic computer equipment is a multi-million dollar industry, providing everything from desks and chairs to mice, and keyboards to computer users. In addition to proper equipment, how a user is positioned while using a computer is critical. Ergonomics is simply designing equipment and environments so as to minimize exertion and fatigue by users (see definition below).
Ergonomics is often overlooked in the classroom, where teachers and students alike can benefit. Schools should incorporate ergonomic equipment and educate students, who as likely lifelong users of computers and other technology from an early age are prone to suffer physically with prolonged use of non-ergonomic computer equipment.
Furniture (Desks, Chairs)shelf or bracket to hold the keyboard at the correct height, even if the table is relatively high.
Computer Equipment (Mice, Keyboards, Monitor)
Posture & Seating
Videos: Workstation Ergonomics
You will find computer users who have expensive ergonomic chairs, sit on rubber balls, tuck their feet under, or simply sit at appropriately-sized regular chairs. In a school setting, there should be a variety of chairs and tables or, better still, students and teachers should able to adjust the height of both the chair and the computer table. This can be expensive, so many schools adopt a "one size fits all" approach that ignores the very small or very tall.
curved keyboards, to split keyboards, and some that are quite odd. Mice include ergonomic roller balls, curved mice, and wireless mice. Having a roller wheel on the mouse helps reduce arm movements, and an optical mouse is preferable to one with a ball. Finally a monitor -- preferably flat panel to reduce eye strain and use less space -- should be positioned with a tilt and at a height that places the top of the screen just about even with the eyes. For flexibility, those with a budget can mount the monitor on an adjustable bracket.
Just as importantly, students (and teachers) should not be sitting at a computer for extended periods of time without at least a chance to get up and stretch. You can even do exercises at your computer to help reduce strain.
For images of poor versus improved student posture and computer use, visit the Cornell University Ergonomics Web.
Carpal Tunnel (compression of the median nerve at the wrist) and Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) are not the only problem associated with bad ergonomics, although they are a major concern as they often require surgery to alleviate. Other possible medical conditions include eye strain, neck and back pain, and even conjunctivitis and dermatitis. And don't forget the ever-present worry of head lice from shared headphones. Take a look at these guidelines from Leapfrog:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Neck and Back Strain:
Conjunctivitis (itchy, bloodshot eyes) and Dermatitis:
(1) er·go·nom·ics (ūr'gə-nŏm'ĭks) Pronunciation Key n.
(1) ergonomics. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved November 14, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ergonomics