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Ergonomics play important role in new learning habitats.

The old flip-top wooden school desk of yore is an icon of innocence, youth and American learning. It is also one of the most uncomfortable pieces of furniture in existence.

With the advent of computers, the traditional school desk has metamorphosed into an ergonomic workstation. Computer-friendly tables, chairs and desks are pivotal to good teaching and learning because computer use creates a unique strain on the human body, the effects of which include eye strain; neck and back pain; fatigue; and carpal tunnel syndrome, a wrist-hand affliction caused by continuous keyboarding without proper wrist support.

By applying scientific principles to achieve better working conditions, equipment and furniture can be manufactured in a way that reduces the stress and strain often placed on administrators, instructors and students.

Several national standards and guidelines have been developed based on sound ergonomic principles: the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in conjunction with the Human Factors Society (HFS); the Canadian Standards Association's CAN/CSA-2412-M89 Office of Ergonomics; and the International Standards Organization (ISO) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) recommendations, which are currently under development.

Basically, the ultimate comfort of the user is key. Many factors should be considered when ordering computer desks, tables and chairs: the distance from the user to the computer screen, the height of the monitor, room lighting, height of the table, correct back support, clearance for disabled users, correct wrist positioning and more. Numerous manufacturers have furniture that meet the above national guidelines. The benefits are invaluable-improved student and employee attentiveness, less fatigue, fewer medical costs and overall better productivity.

It should be said that T.H.E. Journal does not endorse one interpretation of the ergonomic guidelines as more valid than another. Most companies will be happy to send information that explains their implementation of ergonomic design.

The Chair

Two words have been associated with correct sitting posture from the get-go: lumbar support. One chair manufacturer, ZackBack International, Inc., offers the ZackBack Posture Chair, which challenges the notion that lumbar is the only way.

The company states that lower back support actually distorts one's sitting posture by displacing the upper trunk and both relaxing and overstretching the lower abdominal muscles. Their chair is multi-adjustable, adding sacral support above the lower back as well as lower spine support below the lumbar region rather than against it. The chair is said to promote proper diaphragmatic breathing while providing proper pelvic and spinal stabilization. Chairs are available with or without armrests.


A hotly-debated topic by some is the placement of computer monitors on desks. Current ANSI/HFS standards allow for viewing angles of 0 to -60 degrees below the horizontal line of sight; Canadian standards call for 0 to -45 degrees. To support these guidelines, several manufacturers favor placing monitors below the worksurface level, with a glare-resistant glass plate facilitating viewing.

Nova Office Furniture's response is to position monitors from 20 to 40 degrees below the horizontal line of sight, which the company maintains alleviates chronic neck pain and keeps a constant optimal distance between the user and the screen.

The 85 Series, suited for computer labs, places the computer, its components and wires within the unit. Eye contact with students is maintained throughout a lesson. Other desk features are a pull-out keyboard drawer with wrist rest. The Multimedia Instructor Station, a new implementation of this technology, integrates computer and overhead projector hardware below the work surface; an LCD panel can be used at the worksurface height.

Paralax offers a similar design strategy. Viewport desks place monitors between 20 and 40 degrees below the line of sight. In addition, all are shipped with a visor or hood to reduce unusual lighting problems. Both the monitor shelf and the keyboard drawer can be adjusted to user preference.

Lastly, Interior Concepts offers their "down under" workstations. Also placing the monitor beneath the desk's surface, the workstation's pull-out keyboard tray offers additional storage.

Rugged, scratch-resistant and easy to assemble, the SnapEase line from MicroComputer Accessories, Inc., a Rubbermaid company, includes a 46" computer desk, a hutch and a printer cart. Panels snap together without tools or hardware and are composed of steel-reinforced Resinite.

The desk boasts a full-width, glide-out keyboard drawer with a built-in wrist rest, area for a mouse and pad, and space to store diskettes and other supplies. The printer cart has two back wheels and fits easily beneath the desk itself.

Suited for use as a teacher's desk or small-group learning center, the Supro desk from Synsor Corp. boasts many ergonomic features, yet is mobile enough to act as a multimedia lectern. The gently sloped, 20"-wide work surface adjusts in height, sports a contoured oak palm rest, and places the mouse and keyboard on the same level. A thin storage area behind the surface holds the keyboard and mouse. The computer monitor panel is slightly lower than the rest of the desk to provide an unobstructed line of sight between students and teachers. A locking rear panel acts as a cord management center. A multimedia equipment pedestal nests under the desk and holds a computer, printer, VCR, videodisc player and more.

The Supro folds up from 42" wide to 30" wide, allowing it to pass through standard doorways. An optional scanner or overhead projector platform makes presentations easy. Lastly, a semi-circle of desk area on the opposite side provides ample work space or can accommodate three students.


Several manufacturers offer computer tables, often chosen for computer labs. Spectrum Industries makes the Computer Lab Advanced Support System, a line of computer tables and printer stands with a unique flip-top cord management system that holds all computer and monitor cables, thereby reducing clutter on the back of the table and the floor.

The Tutor Table and Track System from Howe Furniture Corp. consists of 60" x 28" and 42" x 28" rectangular folding tables and a series of top bridges that snap together. Options are half-round and trapezoidal folding ender tables.

Two other tables are height-adjustable, making them easier for handicapped users. The first is the System 8100 from The Toledo Metal Furniture Co. It adjusts from 31" to 41" high for either sitting or standing work. Its all-steel frame is topped by a high-pressure laminate tabletop. Optional equipment ranges from a vertical upper structure to fluorescent light fixtures.

The SOHO Computer Table from SOHO is also adjustable. Based on a slide-and-lock technology, the table's monitor and keyboard shelves can be raised and lowered by turning two knobs. Also, the angle of the keyboard shelf can be tilted up to 20 degrees for maximum comfort. An accompanying SOHO Printer Table is available too.

And lastly, Synsor Corp. manufactures two-student computer tables and printer stands. The tables feature a wire feed slot concealed behind a wood-grain panel, a removable access panel and steel floor runners with adjustable glides. Measurements range from 36" long to 48" with a 28"-deep work surface.

Modular Centers

Computer centers, media labs and activity-based computer class- rooms are also taking on a new look. Rather than lines of tables, modular centers are designed to accommodate four or more students at learning stations. The approach saves space, reduces furniture costs and make supervision easy for instructors.

One example is Intelec, an integrated electronic education center from Counterpoint. Comprised of four corner units with partition walls, Intelec places troughs under the rear edges of each to conceal cables and wires. Options are steel marker boards, tackable acoustic boards, CRT stands and more.

Interior Concepts also offers what they call technology labs--four-workstation, separated set-ups with raised student call lights to signal instructor assistance. These centers are suited for robotics, CAD, drafting and other studies.

Of the many furniture items sold by Smith Systems, of note are their cluster work centers, which eliminate the partitioning walls used in the above systems. Table leg heights are adjustable in one-inch increments. Wire management is provided via a vertical housing.

Options include threestudent trapezoidal tables, fourstudent square tables or a six-person hexagon table created by placing two three-student tables together. The latter design is supported by a riser shelf that places printers, paper, supplies and other items above students yet within arm's reach.

Paragon Furniture, Inc. has added the Economy Series of single-level, three- or four-student work centers to its furniture line. Features are a wire-management basket, a 20" power cord channel, steel legs with one-inch adjustable glides and 26" high table legs. A coordinating elevated shelf is also


Another company, Bretford Manufacturing, offers a wide variety of educational furniture. Their Connections line can be used as stand-alone units or grouped together. The line includes a 96"-wide trapezoid table for three computers that can be doubled to accommodate six students. Corner tables and printer stands are available as well.

Solid steel construction and environmentally safe powder-paint finishes are standard; shelve units are optional. Grommet holes and cord-management bins keep table tops clear. The company offers a Room Planning Kit that helps schools design their own computer centers using cut-outs of all furniture pieces in the Connections line.

Schools that have relationships with local vocational-technical colleges, or advanced wood shops may want to build their own modular labs. Taylor Engineering provides lab furniture plans that help schools "do it themselves" and, according to the firm, spend onetenth the amount needed to purchase pre-built furniture.

The plans are drawn using AutoCAD, measure 18" x 24" and sport exploded views. They are sold in a packet for all six pieces: attention-focusing module (partitioned work area that can be used as a corner unit or singly), presentation podium, lab manager center, grading caddy, video production studio desk and video production console.

Media Carts

The portable media cart has also had a face-lift. Wheelit, Inc.'s Model 6000 AV Monitor Cart features a pyramid design lowers the unit's center of gravity and provides better stability. A 32" x 24" upper platform supports a 25" monitor, while a 28"-high center platform is at a convenient level for VCR use. The cart is equipped with buckle-end straps and five-inch locking casters that provide safe passage for up to 180 pounds of equipment.

And Bretford Manufacturing has expanded their line of patented wide-body carts with the addition of the BBILS1-P4. Reaching 44", it boasts a top shelf that can support up to 27"-diagonal monitors, a locking roll-out shelf that pulls out to either side to accommodate instructional materials, a stationary middle shelf for VCRs or videodisc players, and a fixed bottom shelf.

The cart rolls on four-inch casters, two of which lock. The same unit is also offered in a version with a two-outlet electrical unit.

Learning Lab Installed In 150th U.S. School

Sony Education Systems, located in Cypress, Calif., has announced its 150th installation of the Sony LLC9000 language learning system.

Bay Port High School, outside of Green Bay, Wis., is the milestone site. The LLC-9000 was installed this past February.

According to Larry Dunning, the school's principal, a special building was designed specifically for the LLC-9000. Twenty-seven sections of French, Spanish and German will use the new room on a daily basis.

Company, Partnership Program Change Names

As of mid-January, NCR Corp. has changed its name to AT&T Global Information Solutions, based in Liberty, S.C. The change reflects the company's global computing and communications capabilities.

In addition, the AT&T/NCR Higher Education Technology Partnership Program is now the AT&T Higher Education Technology Partnership Program; operations will not change. As of late last month, PCs sold through the Higher Education Technology Program will sport AT&T logos.

Partnership to Expand Marketing & Dietrib.

A partnership has been announced between San Ramon-based Decision Development Corp. and DC Heath that allows the latter company to distribute and market DDC's Science 2000 and Ancient World 2000 products.

Science 2000, a hands-on, activitybased science curriculum, has been adopted by Texas, California, West Virginia and Utah.

DC Heath will also provide editorial and development support in the form of content, scope and sequence review.

Language Packages Approved by State

I Speak English and Yo Hablo Espanol, language instruction packages from Intechnica International, Inc. of Midwest City, Okla., have been approved for classroom use by the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee.

Teachers across the state can use textbook funds to purchase the programs, which are part of the Intechnica Language Literacy System, to comply with Oklahoma's mandate that every child have a working knowledge of English, or if a native English speaker, a familiarity with a second language.

Intechnica employs a patented methodology that links reading, listening, writing and speaking. Students can record their voices and play them back, comparing their responses to a model speaker.

Library Automation Booklet Is Expanded

Now in its second edition, Guide to Library Automation: A Step-by-Step Introduction from Winnebago Software Co. in Caledonia, Minn., has been expanded.

Currently 44 pages long, the booklet sports additional information on management benefits, networking within a library, multi-library systems, advantages of OPACs, obtaining funding and more. An extensive bibliography and suggested reading list are other highlights.

The Guide to Library Automation is free; call (800) 533-5430, extension 232 for more information.

CD-ROM Titles Added To Ed. Video Catalog

Library Video Company, an educational video distributor located in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., has expanded its offerings to include CD-ROM titles.

The catalog, sent to schools and public libraries, colleges and military installations five times a year, will now boast 150 educational CD-ROMs for a variety of platforms. Examples include the Oxford English Reference Library, PhoneDisc and Broderbund's Living Books series.

This month a separate, CD-ROMonly catalog will offer a total of 350 titles from which to choose. For a copy, call (800) 843-3620.

New Division to Handle Ed. Management SW

In a recent development, McGrawHill has established a new division to handle LAN-based, K-12 school administrative management solutions.

McGraw-Hill School Systems, located in Monterey, Calif., will market The Columbia Library System. and Textbook Tracking library automation software plus Windows OnLine Attendance, Integrade and Classroom Manager class-level administrative packages.

On the school level, the company provides The School System and OSIRIS, School Special Accounts Manager (SSAM) and Special Education. Lastly, District Planner is a student information management system for district personnel.

13 Colleges Are Part Of New Advisory Board

A non-profit consortium of 13 colleges and universities formed by Taligent, Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., the Taligent Higher Education Advisory Board hopes to facilitate the transition to object-oriented programming.

The board's objective is to champion object technology and help move industry as well as education into "community computing."

This latter concept envisions computers as facilitating a highly collaborative, more natural and intuitive interaction between computer users, providing access to knowledge not easily transmitted via e-mail.

The board has outlined several goals: to re-tool the computer science curriculum to teach object-oriented techniques, to share members' development efforts with Taligent and the community, and to support the widespread use of object-oriented technology in developing mission-critical applications.

Guides Draw Upon Archaeological Sites

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Heritage Education Program has developed a new teacher's guide that draws upon the myriad archaeological, historical and paleontological activities underway on public lands.

Intrigue of the Past: A Teacher's Activity Guide for Fourth Through Seventh Grades presents exercises and testing guidance, ideas for stimulating discussion, context material and reproducible activity sheets.

Overall program goals include educating the public on the importance and fragility of cultural resources, encouraging and demonstrating good stewardship of these resourcest and more.

The guide is available for $15 through the National Science Teachers Association's catalog; call (800) 722-NSTA for more information. In addition, the guide will be offered at no charge at Project Archaeology workshops scheduled throughout 1994. Workshop inquiries can be answered at (303) 882-4811.

Download B&W Paint SW From CompuServe

A full grayscale, Windows version of Fauve Matisse from Fauve Software in Cary, N.C., is now available at no charge.

Simulating as charcoal, pastels, crayons, pens and pencils, the program can be ordered directly from the developer for a shipping and handling charge or downloaded from major computer networks such as Compuserve.

A 100-page manual is also offered.

Pencil/Pen Plotter Line

Prices Are Reduced

The entire XP-500 pencil/pen plotter line from Mr. Prospect, Ill.-based Mutoh America, Inc. has been reduced in price.

The XP-511, an A-D size plotter, is now over $1,300 less; the A-E size XP510 has been reduced by $1,800; and the XP-510R roll-feed model is discounted by $1,900.

Features common to all are an automatic feeder that holds up to 720 pencil leads of varying size and hardness; a carousel that holds up to eight drawing devices, mixed ink and lead; "fuzzy logic" vector sorting; and a maximum plotting speed of 50 inches per second.

Videodisc Co. Enters CD-ROM Market

Videodiscovery, Inc. of Seattle, Wash., has formed a Digital Products Division that will develop and market CD-ROM titles.

Plans are to offer curriculumbased and scientifically accurate CDROMs. In addition, popular videodisc products such as Science Sleuths will be released in digital form.

Free Workshop Helps Build Historical DB

The History Computerization Project of Malibu, Calif., is offering free workshops and a printed tutorial to explain how to build historical databases using any database management software.

The project is sponsored by the Regional History Center at USC and the Los Angeles City Historical Society. Plans are to create a Regional History Information Network through which researchers and repositories can exchange information.

The workshops, helpful for historical research, writing and cataloging, are held one Saturday each month at the USC campus. For those unable to attend, the tutorial, which covers the techniques discussed in the workshop, is available at no charge.

The 300-page textbook used, Database Design: Application of Library Cataloging Techniques by David L. Clark, is available from the TAB division of McGraw-Hill. Call (818) HISTORY for more details.

Ed. Reform Directory Is in Second Edition

The Concise Directory on Education Reform/2nd Edition, published by InfoMedia, Inc. in Ellenton, Fla., is now available and free of charge.

A two-part resource, the guide provides an alphabetical listing of over 100 national, regional, state and local educational reform organizations as well as a listing of more than 30 books, reports, studies and other publications profiled in past Education Reform Digest issues.

Interested parties can send a selfaddressed, number 10 envelope with .52 postage to Concise/2nd Edition, c/o InfoMedia, Inc., P.O. Box 210, Ellenton, FL 34222-0210, or call (813) 776-2535.

Funds Build Computer Visualization Lab in IL

The Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago has received a $35,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation to establish a Computer Visualization Lab.

With two Silicon Graphics IRIS workstations and graphics development software, the school hopes to introduce scientific visualization into the freshman curriculum via a set of case studies that emphasize using such tools to analyze engineering and science problems.

Next, an upper-division, interdisciplinary computer visualization course will emphasize hands-on experience applying visualization tools to the analysis and solution of technical problems.

U.S. Dept. of Ed. Grants Develop Skill Standards

The U.S. Department of Education has announced a $3.5 million grant award to develop and implement voluntary skill standards in nine industries.

Under the Business and Education Standards Program, national trade associations and education groups will receive grants to create businesslabor-education technical committees, which will in turn develop national standards and certification procedures for competencies in various industries and trades.

Human services, heavy highway and utility construction, environmental treatment and demolition, chemical processing, hazardous materials, photonics, agriscience, welding and food marketing are the industries participating.

Navigation Tips Help Novice Internet Users

John Wiley & Sons, Inc., located in New York, N.Y., has published THE INTERNET NAVIGATOR: The Essential Guide to Network Exploration for the Individual Dial-Up User.

The 352-page book was written by Paul Glister with a foreword provided by the president of the Internet Society.

Outlined first is a broad overview of the system, including what the Internet is, how and why it was created, and where it is going. Other topics are sending and receiving e-mail; making the most of limited access and the File Transfer Protocol (ftp); and using Telnet to log on to remote computers for databases, FreeNets and others.

In addition, the publication teaches how to conduct focused and efficient searches plus touches on how BITNET is related to the Internet and how to take advantage of its many resources.

ILS Supports UNIX File Servers for Mac LANs

Jostens Learning Corp. of San Diego, Calif., has announced UNIX fileserver support for its large Mac-based classroom networks.

Because of UNIX's ability to support small and very large networks at various locations on a school's campus, Jostens will offer Solaris, an offthe-shelf version of the 32-bit operating system from Sun Microsystems, as a platform for its ILS servers.

In addition, the company will also offer Sun's SPARCserver 10 computer, which can accept up to four RISC CPUs, for Mac networks with several hundred workstations; Sun's SPARCclassic RISC-based fileserver will be available for installations of 40 workstations or less.

UNIX-based Jostens networks will accept any workstation that supports the TCP/IP protocol.

Conference Attendees

Can Win Turnkey Sys.

Educators attending the 72nd Annual NCTM Meeting this month in Indianapolis, Ind., can register to win a ScanTrack system from Scantron Corp. in Tustin, Calif.

ScanTrack is a DOS-based turnkey management tool for math classrooms. It measures and tracks students' mastery of basic course skills and learning objectives, creating criterion-referenced tests and quizzes, scoring the tests, and providing numerous diagnostic and progress reports.

One ScanTrack system will be awarded during a random drawing on April 15, 1994. To be eligible, attendees must stop by the Scantron booth for a product demonstration.


  Advance Products Co., Inc.
Wichita, KS

   Blanton & Moore
Barium Springs, NC

   Bretford Mfg. Co.
Schiller Park, IL

   Brodart Furniture
Williamsport, PA

Grand Haven, MI

  Custom Educational
Furniture Inc.
Arden, NC

   Delfield Co., The
Mt. Pleasant, MI

Egan, MN

    Fleetwood, Inc.
Holland, MI

    Gaylord Bros.
Liverpool, NY

     Grafco, inc.
Catasauqua, PA

   Howe Furniture Corp.
Trumbull, CT

  Interior Concepts Corp.
Spring Line, MI

   Marvel Group. The
Chicago, IL

  MicroComputer Acessories, Inc.
Inglewood, CA

  Nova Office Furniture, Inc.
Effingham, IL

  Paragon Furniture, Inc.
Ft. Worth, TX

Broomfield, CO

  Skaggs Telecommunications
Murray, UT

  Smith System Mfg. Co.
Piano, TX

Boston, MA

  Spectrum Industries, Inc.
Chippewa Falls, WI

Pacoima, CA

  Streater Furniture Systems
Albert Lea, MN

  Synsor Corp.
Woodinville, WA

  Taylor Engineering
Berryton, KS

  Toledo Metal Furniture Co., The
Stroudsburg, PA

  Wheel It, Inc.
Toledo, OH

  Winsted Corp.
Minneapolis, MN

  White Storage & Retrieval
Systems, Inc.
Kenilworth, NJ

  ZackBack International, Inc.
Rochester, MN

Sega Grant Funds Education Diversity Institute

Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Sega Foundation, the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education (NFIE) of Washington, D.C., has inducted five more teachers into the Christa McAuliffe Institute for Educational Pioneering.

Winners are: Jaime Roybal from Tucson, Ariz.; Arlene Costello of Pensacola, Fla.; Robin Wax from Ann Arbor, Mich.; Nana Hill of McKinney, Texas; and Hazel Lockett from East Orange, N.J. The instructors, who demonstrated a considerable knowledge of multicultural education, will be linked electronically and receive $5,000 stipends.

The McAuliffe Educators will be able to gather information, test strategies, examine current practices and draw conclusions on what should be included in professional development programs that provide opportunities to diverse students.

The end result will be an inservice report and video to help teachers integrate multicultural perspectives and respect for diversity into teaching and learning.

Guide Helps Schools Become & Stay Legal

Suited for evaluation centers, media labs, computer classrooms and more, Education Software Management: The K-12 Guide to Legal Software Use helps schools become and remain legal software owners.

Offered by the Software Publisher's Association of Washington, D.C., the 67-page guide ships with a nine-minute videotape for students titled "Don't Copy That Floppy." The bundle costs $35; the video itself is available for $15.

SPA also provides a flyer on software copyright compliance and a "Don't Copy That Floppy" poster at no charge.

Educator Contest Coincides With Anniversary

To commemorate Redmond, Wash.-based Edmark Corp.'s 25th anniversary, the company is sponsoring a Special Educator of the Year contest.

One grand-prize winner will receive a Mac LCIII or 486/33 DOS computer, plus a $2,000 gift certificate for specific Edmark products. Five Exemplary Special Educators, who will each be awarded a $1,000 gift certificate, will also be chosen.

Educators are asked to submit an official entry form plus a description of an innovative instructional program developed for one or more students using Edmark products. The program should also consist of activities or interactions that target a specific goal, be it academic, social, personal or physical improvement. The six winning essays will be published in Edmark's 1995 catalog.

For official forms with full details, call Edmark at (800) 362-2890. Entries must be postmarked on or before midnight, May 30, 1994; winners will be notified by August 10, 1994.
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Author:Gellerman, Elizabeth
Publication:T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)
Date:Apr 1, 1994
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