Recessed Monitor Desks

Take a circular saw and cut a window in the top of the desk. Fix the computer monitor under the desk at an angle to the keyboard similar to that of a laptop, only back a bit so the table top level is not interrupted. Fit a sheet of glass on top of the desk and arrange the keyboard and mouse to suite. Join desks together and you have a space suitable for both online and face to face networked learning without loosing valuable desk space or eye contact with the students.

Desktop computers on top of desks not only create a massive distractive barrier between you and your students, but they take up a lot of desk room - rendering the desk useless for anything but computer work. Recess the monitor and computer under the desk and you reclaim the classroom, protect the computers from theft and damage, and maintain a balanced learning environment.

Some people believe this set up is not ergonomic. But when considering the positions of users who are non touch typers, people using laptops, people reading a book at a table, people writing, drawing, painting etc, the same body angles and positions are evident. Also, given that most classes do not exceed 1 hour and hopefully nothing like 8 hour desk jobs, the desktop set up currently accepted in the workplace, need not apply in the classroom. A classroom that has computers neeed/should not look like a lab of computers. A classroom is a place for group work, round table discussion, book work, and other activities, and computers are extremely useful to all this, but should not dominate.

There is at least one issue with this set up that is worthy of more consideration, and that is reflected light in the glass over the monitor. In some situations it may be necessary to turn off the lights above while working on the computers. If possible, redesign the lighting in the room so that reflection is minimalised. Suggest wall lights instead.