Kimberly Sheen is a PhD candidate in the School of Design at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Born in Hinsdale, Illinois, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a Minor in Communications from Florida State University. She holds a Master of Library and Information Studies from Florida State University in Information Architecture and Web Design and a Master of Science from University College London in Human-Computer Interaction with Ergonomics. While studying for her second masters at UCL, she started to explore her interest in ergonomics and electronic textbooks. In September of 2014, she started her studies at PolyU. Her research focuses on ergonomic risks associated with electronic textbooks.
Ergonomic Risks Associated with Electronic Textbooks on Mobile Devices
About the Research
Many universities around the world are making the shift from using physical textbooks to electronic textbooks. Debate surrounding this subject heavily relies on the students’ opinions of electronic textbooks, outdated research, or is industry driven. There is a distinct lack of research and discussion on ergonomic risks and whether this type of textbook can even meet students’ task requirements.
To answer this gap in research and discussion, exploration into how students complete academic reading using electronic textbooks on mobile devices will be conducted. This project will take into account the appropriateness of this type of textbook for different fields of study and ergonomic risks that arise during usage. Particular interest will be paid to complementary tasks, such as highlighting or note taking, which may not be fully supported by the various devices’ hardware or software. Investigation into identifying how students are supporting their readings, which devices they are using, and the environment in which they are reading will be conducted.
The findings of this study will not only provide research in an area that is severely under researched, but risks identified can influence the global discussion to move towards electronic textbooks and the decisions made by universities and governments regarding this matter. In addition, the design recommendations can be used by designers of both software and hardware to better understand student readers and their needs so that a better and safer product may be produced.