Health Issues of Studying Online

This page deals with computer health and safety issues of online learning, in paricular the need for a well designed computer workstation (with an ergonomic chair and ergonomic computer) the need for a healthy work schedule. There is a useful Open University UK online course "Living with the internet: learning online" that deals with these isssues. Here is a modified extract:

There are health issues associated with studying online. In particular, it is known that working at a computer has the following health risks:

Eye strain: Working at a screen causes you to stare more intently at a small area than you would under other circumstances.
Upper limb disorders: These are sometimes referred to as RSI (repetitive strain injury).
Headaches: Some people report headaches after working at a screen for a long period.

So, to make your online learning healthy, we suggest the following tips to alleviate most of these problems:

  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Get your position comfortable, e.g. give yourself sufficient legroom.
  • Make sure your chair and desk are the right height – your lower arms should be roughly horizontal and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Make your working environment comfortable, e.g. arrange your monitor to avoid bright reflections on the screen.
  • Use the mouse correctly – keep the mouse within easy reach, do not grip it too tightly, and rest your fingers lightly on the buttons.
  • Adjust your screen brightness and contrast to suit you and the lighting conditions.

(Taken and adapted from the Open University UK online course "Living with the internet: learning online".)

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Free Course

I recommend that students new to online learning take the Open University UK online course "Living with the internet: learning online".