Best Ergonomic Keyboards For Online ESL Teachers9 min read
Finding the best ergonomic keyboards can be one way to solve the problem of repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel. For online ESL teachers, who are often on their computers for many hours each day, this can be a great way to promote good health while teaching.
|Microsoft Sculpt||Click For Price|
|Logitech K350||Click For Price|
|Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000||Click For Price|
|Goldtouch GTU-0088 V2||Click For Price|
|Kinesis Freestyle2||Click For Price|
Why do I need an ergonomic keyboard?
As an online ESL teacher, you may or may not do a lot of typing. However, you probably are on your computer and use your keyboard for multiple hours each day. This is just for teaching and does not include computer time spent outside of teaching such as at work. If you are a writer like me or do something during the day which involves a lot of keyboard use, this can quickly add up to 5 hours or more each day of repetitive movements.
While you may not consider an ergonomic keyboard something important for your online teaching, a stress injury from hours and hours of repetitive movement will certainly take a toll on your attitude and energy levels in your classroom. In a past article, I discussed other things you can do to help promote better health while teaching English online such as opting for a standing desk. An ergonomic keyboard is one more step towards better health while working on your computer to teach English online.
What should I look for in an ergonomic keyboard?
The difference between a normal computer keyboard and an ergonomic keyboard is the way in which the keyboard forces you to position your wrists. A normal computer keyboard will force your wrists to be bent closely in an unnatural position. This puts unnecessary compression on the different nerves and tendons and muscles which run through your wrists and hands. Combined with the repetitive movement of typing, over time, can cause stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or injuries to your fingers. An ergonomic keyboard will force your wrists into a more natural and bent position and will space them further apart in order to keep the movements more natural.
There is no one size fits all solution for ergonomic keyboards as each has a different way of tackling the problems of unnatural positioning. No matter what, the optimal position for typing is for your elbows to be positioned above your wrists with your lower arm slanted downwards in a natural position. It is best to look for keyboards that don’t have stands in the back to raise the keyboard. You don’t want your wrists to be slanted down with your fingers typing upwards. Instead, you want your wrists to have a natural tilt which can be best accomplished with a keyboard that slopes a little downwards. The keyboards that were selected for this list have all been chosen with these criteria in mind.
What are the best ergonomic keyboards?
- The Microsoft Sculpt has a cushioned wrist pad which can help to relieve pressure normally put on the wrist and allows them to rest comfortably.
- Comes with a separate number pad allowing the user to use it optionally with the keyboard or not use it at all.
- The Sculpt is wireless which can be a major plus when used in conjunction with a standing desk or if you like to move around a lot but still want to be able to type things for your students.
- Many users have complained that the cover for the battery compartment is magnetic and therefore has the potential to come off easily.
- Some users have complained that the keys are a bit too close together. If you have longer than average fingers you may find that it is inconvenient to type.
- Some users have complained of connectivity issues between the dongle and the keyboard. This can be a problem if you are in the middle of class and experience connectivity issues.
- The battery life for the K350 has been improved significantly over previous models to up to 3 years. This is based on the companies estimate of an average 2 million keystrokes per year so for some users, the battery life may be more and for some this may be much less.
- Can easily be used with both Mac and PC computers.
- The K350 is wireless which will allow you to easily use this with standing desks or if you are a tutor who likes to move around while you teach.
- Some users have reported issues with the keys sticking and being stiff. This can be a problem especially if you have light fingers as it may cause characters to skip and result in you having to go back to fix errors more often.
- A very few users reported experiencing a lag between their typing and when the typing would show on the computer screen. This has been attributed to issues with the wireless connectivity.
- A number of users have reported that the keyboard was much louder than they would prefer. This can be an issue as a tutor if the sound the keyboard is emitting is picked up on your microphone.
- The 4000 is set up so as to force your wrists into a more natural position as you are typing which will help to decrease the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome from excessive repetitive movements.
- This is the cheapest keyboard on our list for tutors who are cost conscious and looking for a good deal on a quality product.
- The 4000 has a complete set of media keys so if you frequently use videos and other media in your classes you will easily be able to play and switch between files with the shortcut keys.
- At 2.2 lbs this is one of the heavier (but not the heaviest) of the best ergonomic keyboards on our list. This isn’t a deal breaker but if you are a tutor that likes to travel frequently and take your setup with you this may add a few extra pounds to your carry on weight that
- Some users have reported issues with keys sticking and having characters appear repeatedly on the screen due to a software stick (where the computer registers a keystroke despite no key being pressed).
- Numerous users have complained that the spacebar requires excessive pressure in order to press down.
- The two halves of the Goldtouch GTU-0088 separate allowing you to optimize the positioning for better comfort. It is also the lightest keyboard on our list which makes it a great option for teachers who frequently travel.
- The Goldtouch is compatible with both Mac and PC computers and is plug and play so there is no need for software that can slow your computer down or take excessive time to install.
- The keys have been designed to be soft touch so that there is no excessive force required to press the keys. This also helps to keep the noise level down so that your keystrokes won’t be picked up by your microphone while you are teaching.
- Some users with heavy hands have reported that the keys are a bit too soft which causes problems with keys accidentally being pressed when using the keyboard.
- A number of users have reported issues with the symbols on the keys wearing away after frequent use and being unable to see what each key is after less than a year of use.
- The connectors between the two halves of the keyboard are plastic and some users have reported that it can be flimsy and break easily.
- The Kinesis Freestyle2 connects via Bluetooth which means it can be used with any Bluetooth enabled device including phones and tablets. This can save you space if you like using a keyboard with your tablet and are a frequent traveler looking for an optimal teaching setup.
- The keyboard has a split design which will allow you to adjust the positioning of both sides to the exact spacing for you. The keyboard comes with a standard split of 9 inches but a more expensive 20-inch split option is also available.
- The Freestyle2 is compatible with both PC and Mac computers with OS X 10.4 and above. The computer is also available with newer iOS devices.
- This is the most expensive keyboard on this list so if you are working within a budget this may not be the best option for you.
- Some users have reported that the keys are too soft and sometimes have had issues with extra keys being pressed while they were typing due to their fingers lightly moving over the top.
- Some users have reported issues with the Bluetooth connection dropping in and out causing major disruptions to their typing.
What do I recommend?
Out of all of the keyboards on our list, my personal recommendation is the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard. This keyboard gives you the most return for your money and has been given the seal of approval from hundreds of thousands of users that it helped relieve hand pains and finger pains and prevented the development of carpal tunnel syndrome as well as other stress-related injuries. The keyboard is also lightweight and easy to transport so if you are an online ESL teacher who likes to travel and teach from the road then it meets all of the requirements of a computer that is easy to put in your teaching bag. Overall, the Sculpt has a solid design and may be the best solution for online teachers looking to optimize their workspace.
I want to help you find an awesome job in the ESL industry and then excel at it. I’m a TESOL certified teacher with over three years of experience working both online and offline. I have worked with students ranging from young learners to advanced level university speakers and have worked in recruiting and hiring, teacher training, and content creation. I’ve seen the good and bad of the ESL industry and I’m here to tell you about it.