Whatever happened to …

… that nice, new, clean, keyboard?

There’s always something glorious about unpacking a new computer although it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance around here.  There’s that wonderful smell of new plastic!  Then, over time, reality clicks in.  The smell goes away.  The keytops get shiny from repeated use.  Especially if you learned and practiced keyboarding properly, there’s that thumb print worn into the space bar.

And maybe a bit of a piece of toast that you had for breakfast sitting on the shift key.  If it’s your keyboard, it gets broken in and begins to take on your keyboarding personality.  I read once that you might even be able to guess a person’s password from the wear and tear on the keys.  In the above, you can clearly see mine which is ASTCN. 

I clearly need to work more Qs and Zs into my typing

But above and beyond that, there may be some germs that are lurking there.

In my classroom, I was always a bit concerned about that.  There, computers don’t belong to the current person typing.  It’s passed through many hands (fingers) during the course of the day.  There was a time before BYOD where, as a teacher, even you would contribute to the wear and the germs on a keyboard.  In addition to dropping your own, you may be picking up those of whoever used it before you.  Just don’t tell me that your students have never sneezed while typing.

Schools are a nice community of germs.  It never seemed to bother those buying or installing the computers or the administration of the school, for that matter.  I guess it was just seen as the cost of doing business.  I tried to promote safe computing and would buy my own disinfecting wipes and leave them in the computer room for myself and any student who was concerned.  After all, if it was good enough for hospitals, it was good enough for my class. 

I don’t know if it did a perfect job; I seemed to still get my own fair share of colds.  But at least it made me feel a bit better.  When I had a couple of labs for professional learning spaces for educators, I would repeat the process there before any workshop started.  It only took about five minutes to go around the room and wipe down the keyboards and mouses.  If I got there even earlier, I would wipe the screens as well.  In addition to the germs, it also made them a bit cleaner.  I remember a teacher telling me once that she monitored student respect for technology with clean computers versus the alternative.  She felt that the students treated the clean ones better.

Now, I don’t want to go all Mandel on you here but it was just a thing I did and always wondered about.  Cleaning and disinfecting keyboards is never on anyone’s job description.

Over to you on this Sunday…

Look down.

  • Do you have a nicely broken in space bar?
  • Do you have a concern about spreading germs via keyboard?  Do you have an approach?  Hoping to hear from teachers of primary students too….
  • How about your tablet or phone?  Can you use it as a mirror or does it track every swipe or tap you make

As always on a Sunday, I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Please share them via comment.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts?  They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

5 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Hi Doug!

    I haven’t had a new computer for four years, well almost five so the keyboard is of course pretty worn. The space bar is funny-looking because on the right side it is pretty shiny and also pressed in more than the left side.

    At least once a week, I wipe it down with antibacterial tissues and my sister has a special spray to be used when the computer is off. I had read an article that a keyboard can harbour more germs than a toilet seat, so now I am more careful with cleaning it up.

    It is funny because very often I have these little spray marks on it and I wonder what they are – then I remember : ) Unfortunately, I drink a lot of Coke so the splashes come from every time I open a bottle.

    Great post once again!


  2. My keyboard is always full of crumbs. I try not to think about the germ aspect, especially at school, where I guess that germs are always a consideration when teaching 33 Kindergarten students. The other day, I was just glad that my keyboard on my iPad continued to work, as the pouring rain was not conducive to the best of writing surfaces. 🙂 Always enjoy these Sunday posts. Thanks for taking us back!



  3. In “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,” about a third of Earth’s population was shipped off-planet in a giant spaceship. The argument was that they represented useless, unnecessary professions and were a burden on the planet’s resources.

    Telephone de-sanitizers were among the group.

    I guess that explains why I have NEVER seen anyone whose job it is to remove germs from telephones.

    I also found it interesting when recycling became a thing in schools that it was not added to anyone’s job description, but was rather promoted as a whole-school activity. Certainly, having students and teachers take turns emptying the recycling bins promotes shared responsibility, but I’ve always assumed that it came up during bargaining as a new responsibility that wasn’t going to be paid for, and thus it was negotiated off the table. Our classroom waste baskets are responsibly emptied two or three times a day by the custodial staff, but the recycling accumulates until a volunteer empties it. That we now have parallel services in place in society that deal with garbage and recycling as two separate entities supports this hypothesis.

    The issue of schools asking parents to supply Kleenex came up in an article in Friday’s The Star. http://startouch.thestar.com/screens/4b6672eb-7c7c-48b8-9456-c056d22e4c08%7C_0.html For years I’ve marvelled at how the education system seems to provide paper towels in washrooms and classrooms, but doesn’t do tissues. Even school admin leave that up to the classroom teacher to arrange. Usually a request home at the beginning of the year generates sufficient boxes to make it through the winter flu season. But, like recycling, it stands out as something “extra,” unaccounted for in school budgeting, and downloaded to the classroom.

    I do remember getting a pocket dispenser of hand sanitizer at an OTiF event back when H1N1 was all the rage — I still have it in my desk at school — but for the past few years, part of my back-to-school dollar-store run includes picking up a few plastic canisters of Lysol wipes. Whenever the desks seem to be getting a bit icky, or whenever a particularly widespread fit of coughing and sneezing seems to invade the classroom, the desks get a good wipe down with the disinfectant wipes. Full disclosure: On numerous occasions over the years I have appreciated the early-morning desk-washing that our custodians undertake to keep the school clean!

    But coming back to the question of disinfecting all the technology that now exists in our schools (beyond telephones), I would have to say that I don’t know what happens with our two shared mobile carts of computers. Given technology’s aversion to water, I know they’re not being washed.

    Is there an elf that pops out at midnight and wiped everything down with Lysol to get rid of germs? Or is Dell infusing the plastic casings with an anti-microbial to cut down on the spread of illness? I really don’t know.

    I am, however, going to take a few moments now to get out those special “made-for-technology” individual wipes and microfibre cloth and clean off my devices!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m like Aviva, sadly….far too many crumbs in my keyboard. We are in the middle of a refresh of our devices for teachers in our board, so my much abused keyboard will be replaced in less than a month. I would not want to be the person responsible for cleaning mine up. I occasionally have to give in and take the keys off to clean out underneath.

    When I was a librarian and was responsible for a lab, I cleaned the keyboards and screens with soft cloths and wipes. Our cart of netbooks could definitely use that treatment, and then there’s the Smart Board (it’s easier if you don’t think about how many hands touch it).

    I’m with Andy on the handy pack of Lysol wipes, and I know several secretaries who won’t be without them to wipe down the phone after a not-feeling-well student uses it to call home.

    Thanks for the smiles, everybody.


  5. Lisa, I’m starting to think that the regular exposure to a few extra germs is what keeps me healthy year after year in primary … or at least that’s what I tell myself. 🙂 Have enjoyed reading these “germy” anecdotes.



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