by JANA WILSON
Technology leader Anastasia “Stacy” Morrone has been preparing for a pandemic for more than a decade.
In 2009, Morrone led the University Information Technology Services Learning Technologies team that created Indiana University’s Keep Teaching initiative in response to the swine flu (H1N1 virus) epidemic.
After the 2009 pandemic threat had passed, Morrone says they decided to keep the website up and running in case of other emergencies.
“We felt we needed to have the resources in place just in case we had to use it,” Morrone says of the site (keepteaching.iu.edu). “Luckily we didn’t have to use it then. We used the website for bad weather or other types of emergencies.”
Then March happened, and Morrone’s preparation paid off. IU officials sent students home at spring break and continued the semester online due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.
IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie singles Morrone out as the key to IU’s rapid move to online teaching and learning. “She’s terrific and, as you can imagine, has been working around the clock to make sure faculty and students have as good a virtual learning environment as is possible,” McRobbie says.
The Keep Teaching website has attracted national attention. Several universities asked to use the content for their own similar websites. Morrone says that IU freely offered the material to any university. “After all, we’re all in this together,” she says.
And that sentiment was returned this spring when Morrone’s team also created a resource for students called Keep Learning (keeplearning.iu.edu). “We got some help from our peers to create the Keep Learning site,” Morrone says. “Several of my Big Ten colleagues were so generous and shared whatever they could.”
In July, Morrone was named the interim dean of the IU School of Education, but says she will still be working on the effort to keep faculty and students connected to instruction. “We have to get this right,” she says, “even though we don’t even always know what ‘right’ is.”