News From AU – Contributed by The Insider

Lecturer Pulls Fast One on MDE Students; Use Your Computer Much?

Lecturer pulls fast one on MDE students

Some of AU’s Masters in Distance Education students have found that things are not always as they seem.

Recently, Dr. Adrian Vranch, the Academic Development Manager at the University of Plymouth in England, visited AU to hold discussions with distance education researchers, and Associate VP Research, Dr. Rory McGreal.

In a fitting climax to a series of “?CDE Live’ on-line seminars, Dr. Vranch also delivered an interactive Web cast to over 30 MDE students about the use of satellite delivery in medical education. To the eyes of the students, it appeared that Dr. Vranch was delivering the seminar, live, from an English pub.

However, using the assistance of a cast of “?background performers,’ pub food and sound effects, Dr. Vranch was, in fact, simulating the pub atmosphere at the “?CDE Live’ studios in Edmonton.

“It was, after all, April 1,” notes Professor Jon Baggaley.

Use your computer much …?

In a recent Edmonton Journal article (April 23, 2003; pg. F1), technology writer, Steve Makris, outlined how an ever-increasing number of people are suffering from the effects of CVS, or ‘computer vision syndrome.’

CVS, Makris writes, “is a collection of vision problems caused by staring too much at computer screens.” Symptoms include dry and burning eyes, light sensitivity, blurred vision, headaches and pain in the shoulders, neck and back. These effects are related to the close proximity of computers and users, as well as the fact that computer users tend to blink less while staring at computer screens. The condition affects people of all ages and occupations.

All is not lost, though. The article outlines a number of recommendations that computer users can implement to mitigate the effects of CVS. Optometrists recommend trying the new flat screen monitors that refresh themselves more often than the conventional Cathode Tube Ray models. They also recommend the “20-20-20 rule:” keep monitors at least 20 inches away, and walk away from your computer for at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.

Other tips for keeping eyes functioning well include: matching screen brightness to that of surrounding areas; keeping screen contrast at maximum; using glare-cutting devices; and placing document holders on either side of the monitor to keep refocusing to a minimum.

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