Author Archives: Michelle Judd

A back-to-school charging cart story

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The other day I picked up my husband from work. He’s a fourth-grade teacher at a St. Paul school in Minnesota. Since we’ve been talking to a lot of educators and administrators about our new LearnFit® Adjustable Standing Desk, I took this opportunity to check out his classroom and chat with him to research the flow of his day.

BeforeChargingCart

I also wanted to see this charging cart he’d been complaining about. He couldn’t remember the brand name but he said it was a big mess. He said only about half of his students were plugging in their devices because the cables were so tangled; he often couldn’t even get the door closed because of the cords! He was right, it was chaos. ErgotronYesChargingCart

He told me I should see another fourth-grade teacher’s cart. “It’s awesome,” he said, glowing. “The devices almost plug themselves in.” I had to check out this paragon of virtue, a little daunted that it might be a competitor’s cart.

Happy to say, it was one of our YES® Charging Carts. I think these pictures pretty much tell the whole story.

What’s your cart story?

Angela Swenson, Director, Global Channel Marketing

TIPS FOR TAMING TECH CHAOS IN THE CLASSROOM

Are you an educator looking for new strategies for organizing your classroom routines and trouble zones? Consider these tech tips for a fall refresh:

Choose a cart, locker, or other charging system that’s compatible with a wide range of devices. One size does not fit all, so make sure your system matches your laptops, tablets, or handhelds. That way, you can mix and match devices today, and your charging solution won’t become obsolete tomorrow.

Locate your system logistically in the classroom, office or media center. It should be out of the way in crowded spaces, but within easy reach for convenient distribution of devices before, after or during class. Sometimes closets or other nooks can serve as charging stations.

Quality, well-made products are durable enough to withstand abuse, the kind that only kids can dish out, but even then… Avoid broken shelves, dismantled cords and jammed locks which require IT to track down replacement parts or call in vendors, such as locksmiths.

Train students to use a gentle touch and act responsibly around technology. Talk to them seriously about the value of the equipment they’re using and what an honor it is to be “tech pioneers.” Not every classroom has the advantage of these devices.

Have a conversation with fellow educators to learn successful strategies for integrating technology into education. You may find that your young, inexperienced peers are comfortable with tech and can give you digital tips and tutorials. Older, seasoned peers may be able to offer good advice on classroom management and how to inspire students. Or the opposite.

Make use of online resources, too. For example, check out the back-to-school posts on the Ask a Tech Teacher blog. In addition to advice, you’ll find over 100 free EdTech lesson plans from a group of savvy contributors. Read away!

Variation on a best-selling theme – New LX SKUs in white

Ergotron LX Single Desk Mount LCD Arm
Up. Down. Forward. Back. The LX provides unparalleled range of motion for any business setting. Choose from these three SKUs with white steel and aluminum construction:

LX Desk Mount LCD Arm
LX Dual Side-By-Side Desk Mount
LX Dual Stacking Desk Mount

Planning to grommet mount? Order this kit for the Single LX Arms and this kit for the Dual LX Arms. Or for a Notebook Tray configuration order part number (50-193-200).

ErgotronHome™ Lift24 now shipping!

 

The wait is over for our ErgotronHome Workspace™ Lift24. What’s a Lift24? Simply, it’s a portable, adjustable laptop stand that converts any surface into a stylish standing desk. Genius! Shop now on www.ergotronhome.com.

 

[Video] CNN takes thoughtful look at standing classrooms

CNN’s Kelly Wallace explores standing in the classroom at the Alexandria Country Day School in Virginia. The school added 128 Ergotron LearnFit™ Adustable Standing Desks to its middle school classrooms to improve students’ focus and increase their physical activity. Multiple Ergotron TeachWell® Mobile Digital Workspaces were also deployed to enable teachers to teach from a mobile, sit-stand platform. The products were funded through a $3 million gift from an anonymous donor in 2014, the largest in the school’s 32-year history. Learn more about other schools piloting standing desks at Ergotron.com/spotlight. Stay in the loop socially by sharing hashtag #schoolsthatmove on Twitter.

American Diabetes “Alert Day” is March 22

Our friends over at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) have just sounded the alarm! March 22nd marks their annual “wake up call” asking Americans to take the Diabetes Risk Test as step 1 in protecting their health. Download the Toolkit now to find out how to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Participate in the ADA’s prediabetes awareness campaign, then help spread the word about this critical issue to your employees, customers, or community members.

Here’s 3 easy ways to get involved:

  1. Talk about it. What do the terms mean? Who is at risk? What are the signs? Shedding light on the issue opens the mind to develop new, healthier behaviors. Discussing with others opens the door to new resources, tip sharing, and maybe even some unexpected support to make positive change. The ADA has a suite of online tools to help thoroughly educate you or someone you love. It takes less than a minute to find out if you have prediabetes, visit DoIHavePrediabetes.org to know where you stand. You can even text RISKTEST to 97779 to take the short test over the phone or via mobile device. According to the ADA, diagnosis is key, and research backs up that once people are aware of their condition, they are much more likely to make the necessary lifestyle changes.
  2. Take steps to make a positive change in your life. Cut out sugar. Cut back on carbs. Exercise more or start to exercise. Increase your daily low level activity. Sit less. Stand more. Move. And if doing all that is too overwhelming, start with one area to work on, whether with a doctor or your support network. Denial doesn’t help anyone. And each day affords you 24 hours, or if you like 1,440 minutes, or even 86,400 seconds to make at least one positive change a day. The campaign features lifestyle tips and links from the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program. You may also want to consider a new app from Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in Australia, Rise & Recharge.
  3. Support the campaign. Whether with your family, your coworkers, or through your social networks to countless thousands in the cyber world, the tools and ideas the ADA has pulled together are infinitely shareable. Here are a few:
    • Support a PSA on your sites or blogs; PSAs are available at the ADA’s PSACentral.org
    • Explore their fabulous Prediabetes Social Toolkit or link to the DoIHavePrediabetes.org site (hashtags include #NoOneIsExcused from #prediabetes)
    • Include posters and risk test flyers in break rooms, kitchens/cafeterias, or in other places where people gather.

However you choose to engage, do engage. If it doesn’t necessarily impact your life directly, remember, more that 86 million people in America alone have prediabetes. Your voice counts.

 

Stand @ Work Study results a must read

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© 2013 National Heart Foundation of Australia

The National Heart Foundation of Australia, in collaboration with the Prevention Research Collaboration (PRC) of the University of Sydney, conducted a study, titled Stand@Work, to determine whether providing sit-stand workstations changes sitting time in desk-based office workers. Here are the results of the study (PDF).

HeartPosterThe study acknowledges the growing body of evidence that indicates high levels of sedentary behavior, and sitting in particular, are emerging risk factors for chronic disease.

Employees who were in the trial reduced sitting time by almost 20% during work hours and increased standing time by about an hour through use of Ergotron’s WorkFit® Sit-stand workstations.

This document captures the study outcomes and is a valuable resource for managers or businesses seeking ways to protect and foster employee health and well-being. It also provides great ideas for reducing sitting time in the workplace outside of using sit-stand workstations.

The Heart Foundation has added standing to their outreach effort. It makes us proud to see that their “Be an Up-Standing Citizen” poster features the outline of the WorkFit-S!

Taking a stand for heart health is a global message we can all support.

 

 

Stanford Study good news for back pain sufferers on the job

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Sit-stand desk users are 75% more likely to report pain-free days than those working at traditional seated [sit-only] desks.

This is just one of the encouraging findings in the study conducted by Stanford University, “Impact of a Sit-Stand Workstation on Chronic Low Back Pain Results of a Randomized Trial.” Published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) by Grant T. Ognibene, BA, Wilson Torres, BS, Rie von Eyben, MS, and Kathleen C. Horst, MD, the research concludes that low back pain may be improved by the introduction of sit-stand workstations.

The research confirms what our anecdotal evidence has told us, that the ability to change positions from seated to standing frequently throughout the workday gives workers some measure of relief from certain low back pain issues.

Back pain continues to be a key issue in terms of employee health and safety as well as a drain on business productivity in absenteeism, presenteeism, and increased worker’s compensation rates. It is estimated that 31 million Americans are experiencing back pain1, and the prevalence of global back pain is estimated to be around 23%2. Not only do businesses feel the impact of people out of the office dealing with pain, but workers themselves suffer from the physical and emotional stress of not being able to work as they would like.

The real good news here? Participants began to experience an improvement approximately 15 days after the sit-stand computer workstation was installed. And associated benefits included increased concentration: 95% of participants reported significantly lower back and neck pain, noting the pain was significantly less likely to interfere with their ability to concentrate.

“Our sit-stand workstations allow seamless movement between sitting and standing positions, offering users ergonomic comfort in addition to many other health-related benefits,” said Pete Segar, Ergotron CEO. “We will continue to build on our WorkFit product line with products like the WorkFit-T and WorkFit-TL to improve the health and productivity of the world’s office workers.”

The study, conducted onsite at Stanford, used a combination of 46 Ergotron WorkFit-SWorkFit-A, and WorkFit-A Premium sit-stand workstations dependent on the worker’s desktop requirements.

This promising research is the first of what we hope many studies that explore some of the questions from this pilot: pain improvement happened slowly – would it continue to improve over a longer period? These folks already suffered from lower back pain – how part does adoption and use of sit-stand workstations play to prevent the onset of lower back pain? Would comprehensive ergo training in conjunction with SSW make for even greater improvement?

  1. Jensen M, Brant-Zawadzki M, Obuchowski N, et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People Without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 69-116.
  2. 2. Hoy D, Bain C, Williams G, et al  A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain. Arthritis Rheum 2012;64:2028.

Rhode Island schools take active approach to learning


It’s a new day in Providence, RI, for 360 High School and West Broadway Middle School. Volunteers from the schools, Nortek, Inc., and Ergotron installed LearnFit™ Adjustable Standing Desks in a unique pilot designed to help the schools test the sit-stand concept in real-time. @BiancaBuono covers the story at ABC6 News.

For more information on other schools around the country visit Ergotron.com/spotlight or hear about Virginia’s Alexandria Country Day School and their decision to adopt sit-stand on a broader scale in this USA Today report.

 

Innovations in Learning from the EdSpaces Education Show

 

Edspaces

I just returned from the EDspaces 2015 show for education furniture. The attendees were largely educators, architects and designers, and resellers seeking to use new furniture concepts to improve learning objectives. Among what I expected to see there, there were also a few surprises. Here are my “cliff” notes from the event if you couldn’t attend:

  • Introducing motion into the student’s day. There is significant interest in this topic, most certainly fueled by all the recent research proving the benefit of reducing sedentary time. One of the award winners had a wide range of bicycles, walkers and elliptical mechanisms built into desks—a seemingly good idea, but expensive, complex and space-intensive. Perhaps a good specialty solution. Hat’s off to them for their efforts.
  • Standing desk solutions are starting to emerge. Ergotron’s Bob Hill gave an excellent talk surveying the research supporting the value of standing desks, and discussing how the early adopters have achieved success in their schools. The questions being asked by the audience were not exploratory, rather they had detailed questions about how to successfully implement, such as deciding how many chairs need to be planned in a classroom of standing desks. A key point was the need for student-adjustable desks.  In a recent article in FastCompany, the principal of Vallecito Elementary says, “Our current favorite desk has some of the things we need, but is cumbersome to adjust and requires an army of parent volunteers to adjust the desks in each classroom to fit each child. This is obviously not scalable across the country. …”
  • Collaboration is a top educator priority, but solutions are haphazard. There is clearly a strong desire to provide flexible, re-configurable desk solutions. However, ironically, the most common desks that are touted as collaboration solutions appear to be odd-shaped regular desks. Kidney shaped, trapezoidal, interlocking organic shapes. They look nice, but few are mobile, few allow for height adjustability, and few readily allow the students to reconfigure the classroom quickly.   Also there appears to be more attention to color than to performance. The key to developing the ideal collaboration products will be to provide prototypes to innovative educators, and cooperatively work on developing new solutions.
  • Cheapo tablet/laptop charging carts…yikes! Among the exhibitors there, there were lots of manufacturers with cheap charging carts with power strips. Some even were made of particle board. Please understand that computing devices and their power bricks give off a lot of heat during charging, and they also can draw enough power to blow a circuit breaker or overheat. At a minimum, these carts can reduce lifetime of your computing devices by overheating them, but more seriously, they can be fire hazards. Buy a safe cart with power management and a metal or flame retarded housing please!! The number of fires allowable in a school is ZERO. Look for UL certification labels.
  • Knockoffs. I was surprised to see copies of one of our products and some other top manufacturer’s products. Please don’t buy copies—it takes a lot of research and development to create a ground breaking product.

I am convinced that this is the beginning of a major trend towards standing desks that will improve our student’s health and learning outcomes. Check out emerging research on juststand.org.

By Pete Segar, CEO, Ergotron Inc., President, Nortek Ergonomics and Productivity Solutions

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Counter-balanced sit-stand for employee well being

I just read a very practical research review article in Ergonomics in Design entitled, “Is Standing the Solution to Sedentary Office Work?” by Jack P. Callaghan, et. al.  It provides a suggested ratio of 1:1 alternating between sitting and standing, with no more than 15 minutes of standing at a time.  That is good practical guidance supported by a number of research studies.

This is certainly consistent with one of the basic tenets of ergonomics, that frequent re-positioning aids comfort by avoiding repetitive stress or static overload.  However, for a typical knowledge worker that computes for six or more hours per day, this means moving between sitting and standing positions 24 times per day.

Is this reasonable?  It depends on the desk.  When one is using an electric desk, the workflow is interrupted by waiting for the desk to reach the proper ergonomic position to start computing again. An electric desk that takes 20 sec to re-position will waste a total of 8 minutes per day if it is re-positioned according to the guidelines.

In American Journal of Preventative Medicine, an article by Dr. Lucas Carr et al. entitled “Cross-sectional Examination of Long-term Access to Sit–Stand Desks in a Professional Office Setting” observed Swedish call center workers with access to counterbalanced spring or electric hoist sit–stand desks for a longer, albeit unknown, duration, and concluded, “It is possible that use of sit–stand desks declines over time and is dependent upon lift type, as more convenient lifts may translate to greater standing.”

This is one of the main reasons why I believe a counterbalanced workstation (where the weight is supported by a spring lift mechanism), promotes health more effectively than an electric desk.  A good counterbalanced desk can be re-positioned virtually instantly, and can be done without disturbing the worker’s thought process. If the worker perceives the effort of re-positioning is too great, they will revert back to sedentary behaviors and begin sitting for longer periods of time, or perhaps standing all the time and experiencing leg or back discomfort.

Wellness experts advise that when you start standing, aim to start in small regular intervals, rather than forcing yourself to stand all day for the first day. The aim should be to get to the point where you can spend half of your working day standing within four weeks.  This can be accomplished with a gradually increasing schedule of standing from 10 minutes per hour in Week 1, to 20 minutes each hour in Week 2 and finally 30 minutes per hour by Week 3. If you experience fatigue or discomfort, ease off a bit. A counter-balanced workstation allows the worker to accomplish this, by easily moving as the worker moves. The workstation becomes an extension of the worker, without a lot of thought need to keep it working with them.

Electric desks still excel for very heavy weights, and highly variable loads; however for a normal office worker with dual or triple monitors and normal levels of paperwork, a counterbalanced desk is going to be substantially easier and quicker to lift and lower, and therefore will be more effective promoting comfort. Furthermore, they do not require electrical power, and are quieter.

Some people will continue to sit longer than 15 to 30 minutes. Some will continue to stand more than two to 30 minutes. But whichever position they are in, switching to the next position can be, and should be, instantaneous.

By Pete Segar, CEO, Ergotron Inc., President, Nortek Ergonomics and Productivity Solutions

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