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OU College of Arts and Sciences professors awarded grant to study effects of social distancing, technology use

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Coronavirus COVID-19

The OU College of Arts and Sciences announced June 5 a group of OU professors was awarded a grant to study how the use of technology to maintain social distancing has affected people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

OU psychology professor Shane Connelly, economics professor Georgia Kosmopoulou and management information systems professor Heshan Sun will work on the project funded by the National Science Foundation. According to a press release, the $199,859 grant will be used to analyze how increased technology use during the pandemic has affected the way society operates. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has required unprecedented changes in work and life routines, significantly raising anxiety and stress levels for many people,” Connelly said in the release.

According to the OU student organization Public Health Discussions, the switch to online learning has been anxiety-inducing for some OU students. Many students reported their diet and physical activity have worsened and some have increased their use of recreational drugs. 

In addition to mental stressors, the pandemic has also put a strain on the economy. Kosmopoulou said studying the ways organizations have used technology to enable workers to continue working would allow the researchers to assess the ability of workplaces to accommodate for the pandemic.

“(The way technology is used in the workplace) is intimately linked to economic resilience and determines the speed of economic recovery,” Kosmopoulou said in the release. 

According to the press release, the study will seek to determine how increased technology use has affected daily activities, public awareness about COVID-19 and whether information technology — technology used to store, retrieve and send information — reduces or increases overall stress.

“This project takes an interdisciplinary perspective," Sun said in the release, "and has the potential to offer insights into the increasingly crucial roles information systems play in unusual times such as COVID-19.” 

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