Background. In this digital communication age, with COVID-19 restrictions that came into place in many universities worldwide after March 2020, universities are using online communication as a pedagogical method of teaching and student learning. As a result there is a need to evaluate the ergonomic factors that affect educators who provide online student educations. Aim of this research was to identify and assess ergonomic factors that affect educators’ experience with online teaching. Methodology. In order to be able to obtain a clearer idea of the issues to construct a questionnaire for a broader population of academics to answer two Focus Group meetings were held with one having educators with more than 3 years’ experience in online teaching and the other academics with less than 3 years’ experience. A qualitative methodology was used to conduct the research with participant answers analysed using NVivo 12. Results. The focus groups results provided 5 main ergonomic themes; organisational, cognitive, social, environmental and physical. Participants reported having good physical ergonomic conditions in their office at work, but not as good when working from home. The main organisational ergonomic concern was not having enough time to be able to provide a high standard of teaching and student feedback. Noise was the main environmental problem. Cognitive ergonomic problems were identified as needing to learn new technologies which sometimes did not work well. Educators were affected by social ergonomic factors that included lack of interaction with students. Conclusions. Educators with more than 3 years of online teaching experience generally had less ergonomic related issues than those who were new to online teaching. Educators new to online teaching found the organisational ergonomic factor of not having enough time to prepare online teaching materials their biggest challenge. As time passed by social ergonomic factors became a more prominent concern.
Mitali Ghosh has completed a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Chemistry; Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Application; Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration; Master of Occupational Health and Safety and is currently completing a PhD titled, ‘An evaluation of tertiary educators’ perceptions of online teaching related ergonomic factors’, at Curtin University in Western Australia. Mitali has worked as a Health, Safety and Environment Training Coordinator in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; a Health, Safety and Environment Global Administrator in Texas, United States of America, and as a Health, Safety and Environment Administrator/EA for the National Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Assurance/Quality Control Manager in Western Australia. Since 2012 Mitali has worked to develop happy, healthy, safe, harmonious workplaces where employees are engaged and productive. She sees risk identification, analysis and management as key safety tools. Mitali’s understanding of the importance of fitting the work, and the tools used, to the person, as well as her future goal to work as an academic to be able to share her passion and knowledge have been a motivator for Mitali to conduct research to improve teaching quality, educators’ engagement, health and productivity.