Tag Archives: computing for children

The importance of safety certification for charging systems

YES_Dorothy

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

Good computer ergonomics – it’s not just for grownups!

  

Suchi Sairam, VP, Roadmap Innovation @ Ergotron

 

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last several years about “digital natives” vs. “digital immigrants.” I just recently came across another great way of describing this from David Truss, “I come from the Batman era, adding items to my utility belt while students today are the Borg from Star Trek, assimilating technology into their lives.”

 

I spend time volunteering in schools, to give something back AND to observe how the next generation is going to approach and solve problems. Now I get the opportunity to see REAL “digital natives” in action – how differently they view the world, even compared to 5 years ago.

  

That’s when I realize that much of our educational system is not designed to teach the students of today, and that the needs of today’s students evolve so much faster than in the past.

 

I applaud educators and administrators for trying to keep up, it’s a huge undertaking.  These kids multi-task – all the time. They really don’t read physical books, they read online.  The good old days of the cool mechanical pencil are long-gone.  And they spend SO much time on computers, from such a young age.  Friends of mine are looking to get their 3 ½ year old daughter her own Mac.  Three and a half?  Wow.

 

It makes me wonder if parents and instructors are recognizing some of the implications of kids spending so much time on computers from younger and younger ages.  Back problems, neck aches, and eye strain are well known problems with adults who spend a lot of time in front of computers at work and at home, doing repetitive tasks. Why not kids too?

 

In fact, research conducted by Cornell University found “40% of the elementary school children they studied used computer workstations that put them at postural risk.”

 

Not only that, they are using these computer stations from such a young age, through important periods of physical growth that could be heavily influenced by physical constraints of extended computer use. It was good to see Dr. Crom’s recent blog entry on ergonomics in computing for children, there is a concern to create awareness and address this problem.  The American Chiropractic Association is also doing its part, publishing tips to reduce injuries related to computer use.

 

Ergotron wants to learn and be involved in this dialogue. We want to help find ways to help solve this problem of “now” and the future, so this next generation of great problem solvers isn’t slowed down due to physical ailments caused by computer use.