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Navigating the New Normal as an ASU Family


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As ASU continues to monitor COVID-19, the university has transitioned from in-person teaching and learning to remote options. In this challenging time, however, the collective innovation of ASU faculty and staff has demonstrated remarkable adaptability. As a method of celebrating the good during uncertain developments, the University Technology Office is gathering success stories of “remote resilience” from the ASU community. The situation globally and across the country is changing daily, but we also plan to share these stories to keep pace.

By Aimee Ashworth, UTO Manager of Information Technology

Mary Larson, a Senior Project Manager with UTO’s Strategic Implementation Office (SIO), has been with Arizona State University for five years in various roles. She is currently responsible for managing a portfolio of projects for the Provost’s Office, and in this remote modality, her ASU student sons are navigating through the challenges and opportunities of being remote. 

“My husband and I have four sons and the youngest are twins currently attending ASU,” Larson said. “We are in the somewhat unique situation of having both staff and students under the same roof. And it was a win-win situation for everyone involved, but took a high degree of discipline to make the transition to working at home.”

Larson explained that the newer technologies already employed by her team such as Slack and Zoom have allowed her to re-engage those skills and keep her relationships with work friends and colleagues up-to-date. When speaking about the positive outcomes of this challenging situation and what she hopes to see for the future, she mentioned that the concept of the “office” as a space you occupy has been disrupted.

“UTO has done an amazing job ensuring the digital tools are in place for not only UTO staff, but university-wide staff, faculty and students to be successful,” Larson said. “Going forward, I’d like to see the flexibility, fluidity and trust continued and explored to discover new options in how and where we do our jobs.”

Kent and Kurt Larson are Mary’s sons, and are both juniors at the Barrett Honors College; Kent is studying Computer Science and Kurt Civil Engineering. Only Kent had prior experience with iCourses, but both felt that due to the nature of their majors, it was a smooth transition to online as only labs and testing dramatically changed.

They both shared that they are navigating the challenges of ensuring they can focus while at home, learning to communicate during group work, and the added complexity when connecting with students outside of their classes. However, they enjoy the benefits of not commuting and the potential for deeper discussions with professors and classmates after class as Zoom rooms are kept open. The ability to easily ask questions within chat and improved one-on-one communications with professors is another plus.

Kurt and Kent feel that this experience has made them “more independent and responsible for [their] own class successes.” They hope that more professors will adopt “Zoom meetings for office hours so we don’t have to travel to campus to ask questions and recorded lectures posted online after class.”

Overall the transition for work and school has been fairly seamless for the Larson family. “However, interaction with fellow colleagues and students has been missed,” Mary said. “So while this new normal is working now and very positive,” she said, she hopes a combination of old and new styles of work and school can yield exciting opportunities once ASU comes out of an entirely remote modality.

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