Glaring faults in computer rooms

22nd August 2008 at 01:00
Information technology classrooms are poorly ventilated and badly lit, with pupils often unable to see the interactive whiteboard clearly, research shows.

Information technology classrooms are poorly ventilated and badly lit, with pupils often unable to see the interactive whiteboard clearly, research shows.

Only two-thirds had windows, while one in eight had neither windows nor air-conditioning. Slightly more than half were equipped with air- conditioning, but one in 10 did not function properly.

Academics from Bedfordshire University, who examined 63 classrooms in 17 schools, found the design of ICT rooms was inadequate.

"Many were inadequately ventilated," they said. "We know that poor ventilation is likely to affect work performance."

Many classrooms were oblong, which meant some pupils struggled to see a central interactive whiteboard. Glare from the board often meant that pupils were unable to make out words or images on it.

Only 10 per cent of the seating was adjustable, so it was impossible for most pupils to ensure they were at the right height to see the screen.

The academics said: "We recommend all computer classrooms have a working mechanism to reduce glare: blinds, paper over windows.

"It should never be the case that computer classrooms are constructed so that there are no opening windows or air-conditioning.

"Schools need to appreciate that there are significant costs involved in computers overheating and damage that can ensue."

They also recommended schools invest in two interactive boards for each ICT classroom, so all pupils could see a screen easily.

Ideally, computer monitors should be flat, taking up less space and enabling pupils to do any writing more easily; and tables should be big enough for groups to work together.

"Children are suffering from eye and body strain because of inappropriate furniture and no breaks away from screens," the academics said.

Makeshift or marvellous: are ICT classrooms fit for purpose? by Rita Egan, Pat Jefferies and Antony Stockford, will be presented at the British Educational Research Association conference in September.

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