Category Archives: Education

Ergotron’s FitForward™ program gives back

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For decades, Ergotron has been helping computer users like you have a healthier, more active workday. And now our joint passion for wellness can impact future generations. When you purchase WorkFit® or ErgotronHome™ Lift 35 products, Ergotron donates LearnFit® Adjustable Standing Desks to schools across the country. Together, we can give our children the life-changing benefits of active learning, decrease sedentary time in the classroom and set our youth on a course of lifetime wellness.

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Betsey Banker, Ergotron’s Vertical Marketing Manager for Wellness, explains how you can be a part of paying “fit” forward:

It’s inspiring to see so many organizations taking a stand for employee wellness with products like WorkFit. Most have read the research about the many benefits of standing up while working and now they’re seeing the difference in their employees. It makes sense that other sedentary places, like classrooms, could benefit from these same discoveries. That’s what makes FitForward so great. Doing something good for yourself, your coworkers or your employees is helping deliver the same benefits to students.”

In the coming weeks, we’ll feature profiles of some of the students, teachers and schools this new program is influencing towards a healthier learning environment.

To learn more about this initiative, visit the FitForward page of our website.

Active classroom benefits gain global spotlight

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Video courtesy of www.ccma.cat.

Good news! Reports about how standing desks are helping students to learn have crossed the Atlantic. Recently a number of European television stations have covered this educational phenomenon.

Spain’s Televisio de Catalunya sent reporter Raquel Sans to Virginia’s Alexandria Country Day School to see how Ergotron’s LearnFit™ Adjustable Standing Desks help create an active learning environment. According to teachers and administrators, middle-school students are more productive now, and can stay focused and attentive for longer periods.

For more information on this and other Spotlight Classrooms around the world using our sit-stand student desks, visit Ergotron.com/spotlight.

Classrooms of the future need the right furniture

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By Bob Hill, Ergotron Global Education Manager

Have you noticed? While there is little doubt that classrooms have become more sophisticated and digital, the physical classroom setting and furniture don’t seem to have evolved at the same pace.

It’s true.

The tablets and devices that are transforming the learning process still sit on top of the same style desks from the 1950s. The blackboards and chalk may have been replaced by interactive whiteboards connected to a computer or projector, but far too often, students still sit in stagnant rows looking up in the same direction at the teacher for the daily lesson.

While curriculum modernization creates opportunities for teachers and students to use the classroom space more effectively, traditional classroom furniture does not. In order for the classroom to truly evolve, teachers, principals and district administrators need to address the entire classroom environment.

Consider this about classroom furniture:

  • Classroom furniture at the most foundational level should enhance the educational tools and technology it’s supporting. At an aspirational level, it should also support the teachers’ curriculum, the students’ health, comfort and learning styles. This requires a fundamental change in thinking as schools adopt 1:1 technology, requiring analysis of what else is changing in association with the technology.
  • Facilitating the move from traditional lectures to more group-based, collaborative and active environments requires adjustable and highly mobile furniture for both students and teachers. Stationary desks do not lend themselves to an active classroom nor do they facilitate a group-dynamic or mobile learning environment that has become so prevalent in today’s educational system.
  • A desk that is both height-adjustable and mobile will foster an individualized learning environment that addresses these issues and offers a myriad of benefits to teachers, students and the school.

Why adjustable desks?

Access to adjustable furniture has been proven to help reduce fidgeting distractions, give teachers more time to teach, increase student engagement, improve academic performance and enliven curriculum. In addition, the rising concerns about childhood health issues are addressed when students are given an alternative to sitting all day—introducing standing into the classroom is an effective means to break up sedentary behavior. We’ve seen this played out dozens of times in our LearnFit® ambassador schools across the country.

Input from surveys, interviews and case studies have all demonstrated that teachers prefer desks that facilitate movement and that students adapt to them intuitively. These types of desks foster collaborative learning while satisfying a child’s need for motion and allow for the teacher to use every inch of the environment for instruction.

Given today’s intersection of technology and education, the classroom set-up is at a crossroads. Schools like the Alexandria Country Day School in Virginia get the critical role classroom furniture can play in making today’s classrooms healthier, more collaborative and more conducive to learning even as schools prepare for the next wave of digital instruction.

It is time to “stand up” for important and fundamental changes for today’s classroom and the classroom of the future.

Bob Hill, Global Education Manager, @LearnFit_Bob

Bob Hill, Global Education Manager, @LearnFit_Bob

Visit us at ISTE in Denver, booth #1515

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The ISTE Conference & Expo has been the premier forum for sharing groundbreaking ideas, unveiling new learning technologies and forming collaborations with the power to impact classrooms worldwide. Visit Ergotron/Anthro booth #1515 to get a glimpse at what Ergotron brings to the education market in 2016. Some highlights:

New! Ergotron LearnFit Sit-Stand Desk

Transform classrooms into active learning environments with on-demand sit-stand desks. With the simple squeeze of a hand lever, kids can change from sitting to standing. The first-generation LearnFit was named a 2016 Bronze Award Winner by the internationally renowned Edison Awards and endorsed by the Global Educator Institute (GEI).

Joyce R., a GEI reviewer and teacher in Florida says:
“I mainly use the LearnFit with a student who has disabilities and has an IEP that allows him to stand and be close to the classroom door. This desk is perfect for him. We can roll it closer to the door and he can stand up and work. Before, when he needed to use his laptop, he would have to sit because the table is too low for him. He always felt uncomfortable and was distracted easily. Using this product allowed him to be more comfortable and much less distracted!”

Top Seller! Ergotron YES Charging Carts and Cabinets, for Mini-Laptops and Tablets.

These flexible charging solutions can adjust to say YES to all your devices, now and in the future. Mix and match laptops, tablets, smartphones, and handhelds. Units offer compact and secure charging while saving valuable floor space in cramped classrooms and offices. Built with Anthro-DNA, they’re also TAA compliant.

Tracey, a reviewer and educator in North Carolina, gave the YES Cart five stars for security:
“This past winter one of the carts was really put to the test. We had a break in over the winter holidays but our Chromebooks were safe! The top of the cart had been pummeled by a hammer. The hammer marks were very clear but the cart remained locked and the thieves left the cart with the Chromebooks inside!”

Drop by our booth #1515, see the mock classroom, take all of our products for a spin, or enter one of our contests. We are giving away 3 products at 3 PM every day and have a grand prize that will excite! You’re sure to walk away a winner.

Protect your digital devices from vandalism and theft

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Last year, over winter break, vandals broke into a North Carolina elementary school and attempted to steal digital devices from the instructional technology lab. They took a hammer to the top of the cart, the YES36 Charging Cart for Mini-laptops, because the cart’s doors were securely padlocked. Unfortunately, this event is played out in similar educational institutes around the country. Device security was never a more important topic on IT agendas.

Happily, in the case of this school, the vandals were thwarted. This is one example of why choosing a  cart with a tough exterior finish and the sturdy overall construction should be a line item on the “must have” list for a charging system roll out at your school. The top of the cart was damaged (see below) and showed multiple marks, but the school was able to replace just the top to get the cart back to pristine condition and back in operation.

Law enforcement officials warn that break-ins are common, especially during holiday vacations, and that there’s only so much that a school can do to avoid theft and vandalism. Security measures, such as spiked iron fences, iron-shuttered windows, and motion sensors, may stop young pranksters but not professional operators, who have ways of counteracting those safeguards.

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So what can a school do to protect its investment in digital technology? First of all, make sure to choose the right solution for your environment, whether it is a wall mount, desktop or cart charging system. In addition, the unit must be tough enough to withstand common educational rigors, such as rough handling by unruly students.

Finally, consider these security features when comparing charging systems:

  • Is a standard locking feature enough, or does it need more (keyed door plus padlock, etc.)?
  • Does it need additional security brackets that will lock the locking system to the floor or wall?
  • Can the unit be rolled into another secured area at night, such as a locking closet?

At Ergotron, we’re always looking for new ways to keep your tablets, laptops, and handheld devices safe, charged, and ready for use. That way, as educators, you have peace of mind, knowing your edtech investments are well-secured, and so you can focus on what you do best – teach.

 

The importance of safety certification for charging systems

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No doubt you have already been through at least one or two technology decisions for your school, choosing devices that will meet your student and curriculum needs. Just as you discovered that you weren’t always comparing Apples to eReaders, the same is true with the charging systems that keep your devices powered up and in play throughout the school day. There is a tendency to assume that all charging systems are safe, but this is not always true. In fact, all device charging systems are not created equal.

Therefore, it is equally important to choose a charging products that has been safety certified by a third-party organization and that the system is being evaluated as a complete and integrated system. It is important to require this of your supplier to ensure the safety of your devices, your facilities and your students.

Some manufacturers use individual components that are safety certified, but then combine them into a larger charging system that is not certified. Charging systems that are not evaluated and certified may exceed allowable load limits, thereby causing electrical arcing, facility problems and/or interaction and interference with other equipment. Safety certification also ensures that mechanical hazards such as user “pinch points,” tipping, sharp edges and crush/cut potential are mitigated.

What are the risks of using non-certified products? You may be surprised at how many there are. Here is a list of considerations when choosing the right systems for your campus:

  1. Critical materials are not fire resistant: This is a potential fire hazard if a battery or electrical fault occurs.
  2. Electrical hazards are not physically enclosed: Shock hazards exist if energized circuitry can potentially be touched either directly or if exposed metal is not safely grounded or properly isolated. Another fire hazard can exist if the enclosure can potentially let out flames or molten metal if an electrical fault occurs inside of the enclosure.
  3. Mechanical hazards are not mitigated: If not properly tested and certified, pinch points, tip, crush or cut, sharp edges, and moving parts can injure students and staff.
  4. Equipment ratings must meet National Electrical Code: Non-evaluated systems may exceed allowable load limits causing electrical arcing, facility problems and/or interaction and interference with other equipment.
  5. No manufacturing factory quality surveillance: Product quality and consistency must be managed and ensured.

Whether you are a choosing a small desktop unit for a back office, a wall unit for an AV center, or a full cart for laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, or netbooks in the classroom, safety should be a number one priority for all the stakeholders involved. Technology is meant to open up new worlds to the students, not new headaches for teachers and IT staff. Look for the certified safety labels or documentation and be sure to differentiate the whole system is safe.

Check out the educator resources on our website, including a grant writing kit, to power up every classroom safely and securely. Also, our charging matrix (PDF) can help you choose the right solution for your environment.

Bob Hill, Ergotron’s Global Education Manager

Bob Hill, Global Education Manager, @LearnFit_Bob

Bob Hill, @LearnFit_Bob

[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.

Teachers + philanthropists = #BestSchoolDay

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We came across something amazing for education recently – a surprise “flash funding” utilizing an online crowdsourcing site, DonorsChoose.org, to support our nation’s school kids. The campaign, #BestSchoolDay, brought together more than 50 celebrities, athletes, and philanthropists (such as Bill Gates) who fully funded 11,000 classrooms in 47 states to the tune of over $14 million.

Since 2000, DonorsChoose.org has been supporting teachers and students by making it easy to help a classroom in need. Their mission is to connect the public to public schools – so that students in every corner of this country have an opportunity to get a great education.

Though the one-day flash funding event took place on March 10th, you can still get involved. There are projects on the DonorsChoose.org site marked with a #BestSchoolDay match offer logo – that means you can double the impact of your donation.

Here’s a great example of a teched project with a match offer, called Chromebooks for Humanities. The request is for Chromebooks and an Ergotron charging cart for Mr. Woolums’s class at the Air Force Academy High School in Chicago.

Are you a public school teacher in need of funding? We recommend DonorsChoose.org as a good way to engage with community philanthropists and major corporations. The more people who know of your need, the better your chance of getting it met.  Start your first project here.

We know teachers are unsung heroes who open up so many doors for their students. That’s why we have educator resources on our website, including a grant writing kit, so that everyone has their #BestSchoolDay. Together, we can help kids do great things in the classroom, and beyond.

Real teachers ask questions – and get real answers!

Q-A_blueThis is the first in a 10-part series as a follow-up to our recent edWeb “School Moves!” webinar on unleashing the power of non-disruptive activity in your classroom. Access it online — and earn CE credit!

Bob Hill, Education Manager at Ergotron, will be addressing the questions we didn’t have a chance to answer during the session.

Q: Is it difficult for students to stand if they are in a lab typing exercises or in a 4-hour-long lab? 

A: If students are in a dedicated computer or typing lab for an entire class period, there are a different set of ergonomic guidelines that should be followed. Because of prolonged repetitive motion, you will need to be particularly attentive to wrist angles, elbow angles, and monitor height. Perhaps a more appropriate solution for a typing or computer lab would be a height-adjustable sit-stand workstation that is designed specifically for ergonomic computer use. Take a look at Ergotron’s WorkFit-S and WorkFit-A.

Q- Is Bob standing during this webinar? I want PROOF that Bob is standing! 

A: I’m a stander! I stand at my desk at least 75% of the time, and take my sitting breaks when I’m in meetings. If I start feeling a little “unfocused” or drowsy in a meeting, I then just go stand in the back of the room. When we did our webinar the other day, I was most certainly standing – I feel inhibited in expressing myself when seated, and I just have more energy when standing. (See photo below of Bob; he’s quick on his feet!)

Q: What’s the best posture? I heard it’s good to pretend that you’re shooting a laser out of your chest at the face of the person you’re talking to? 

A: As ergonomists commonly say, the best posture is the next posture. Translation – don’t be static. With both our youth and us adults, it’s important to keep moving, even if it’s just considered NEAT [non-exercise activity thermogenesis].  As for how to have proper standing posture, here’s a link for more information about the ergonomics of comfortable sitting or standing.

 

Bob Hill,
Education Manager at Ergotron
@LearnFit_Bob, #schoolsthatmove

 

Governor Raimondo tours our Rhode Island LearnFit classroom!

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Students engage Nortek CEO Michael Clarke and Governor Gina Raimondo in a women’s suffrage small group breakout.

Last week, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo stopped by 360 High School in Providence to tour her state’s first active classroom – equipped with 30 of our LearnFit® adjustable standing desks! Also joining her was Michael Clarke, CEO of Nortek (our Providence-based parent company), who, earlier this year, donated 58 LearnFit desks between 360 High School and West Broadway Middle School in an effort to locally transform classrooms into active learning environments where students stay more engaged.

During the classroom session, Michael and Governor Raimondo discussed the importance of building a healthier generation of students – which begins in the classroom and can be further championed with the use of adjustable standing desks – as well as the key role they will play in fueling the future Rhode Island economy. The Governor also impressed upon the students how collaboration plays a major role in both government and business.

In his own words, Michael relayed, “Our LearnFit desks allow students and teachers to create an atmosphere of collaboration and engagement that you can’t do with traditional desks. We donated the desks because we want to invest in the next generation of Rhode Island’s future. The kids in high school today are the employees we will need tomorrow – and we want them to be smart, healthy and productive. LearnFit desks help on all those fronts.”

Are you interested in bringing standing desks to your school? Learn how your school or district can turn its standing-desk wishes into reality for more active classrooms by accessing grants for K-12 programs. Visit Ergotron’s Resources for Educators to find information to get you started, along with details about the LearnFit desk. You can also hear directly from teachers, administrators and students about their experience at other Ergotron spotlight schools or by following #schoolsthatmove on Twitter.