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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Community Overcomes Virtual Challenges

By Sherry DiBari

The Old Dominion University community continues to be creative while working from home. Students and faculty have defended dissertations, advised and adjusted their academic routines during this challenging time.

Lenora Thorbjornsen, a first-year student success coordinator at the Center for Advising Administration & Academic Partnerships, created "drop-in" online academic advising sessions from her home.

Thorbjornsen, who didn't have a home computer until late February, is still using a spare TV as a screen as a monitor and a Magic the Gathering playmat as a mousepad. "They get the job done and it makes for a fun story," she said.

The biggest adjustment for Thorbjornsen has been tracking time. "I've started actually using a wall calendar to track time as opposed to just having it up as decoration."

She's sharing an office with her husband and three needy cats. "I'm telling myself that lifting the cats all the time is a bit like lifting weights and counting it as exercise. Like cat-fit instead of CrossFit," Thorbjornsen joked.

"I am enjoying the extra time with my husband and this may be the cleanest my house has ever been, so those are definitely two positives!" she added.

Lyzzie Golliher, working on an M.F.A. in creative writing with a concentration in fiction, defended her thesis this week using Zoom. Golliher's presentation was based on an excerpt from the young adult novel, "Colin and the Nachtmar."

Golliher was a little disappointed about defending virtually. "I was looking forward to seeing my panelists in person and catching up a bit. Doing it virtually felt less personal."

One positive was that the session was recorded. "I can look back on the defense and remind myself of what was said, both positive and negative, and refer to it during revision sessions," Golliher said.

Josh Howell, defended his dissertation, "Transformational Leadership Qualities Among Students Within Doctoral Higher Education Programs," virtually as well.

Howell, a Ph.D. candidate in higher education, was a bit nervous defending online. "I have always been a strong public speaker and feed off the energy within a room," he said. "When you defend a dissertation online, you lose that sense of energy. I also did not get the opportunity to shake hands with my committee members, which was a bit of a letdown."

Vukica Jovanovic, associate professor in engineering technology, said teaching computer-integrated manufacturing through a computer "adds a whole different level of digital thread." At home, she is working remotely alongside her daughter. "My kid thinks I am a YouTuber now," Jovanovic said.


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