Earning my remote tech support stripes during MLFTC’s Lead Teacher Week

After wrapping the first iteration of Sun Devil Learning Labs, some of my IgnitED Labs peers and I were tasked with helping facilitate an event for Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Lead Teacher Week Workshop. This Zoom event would allow teams from over fifteen school districts to meet digitally in order to collaborate with the teacher candidates they will be working with this coming school year.

I served as somewhat of a digital concierge, directing participants into pre-assigned rooms organized by district, school, and grade level. The night before I had spent about an hour individually assigning each participant into their respective rooms so that when the time came the morning of, the system would automatically disperse everyone to exactly where they needed to be.

Due to reasons out of our control, things didn’t necessarily go as planned and improvisational efforts were required with about sixty-five of my one-hundred total participants being left in the main session (indeed, not where they needed to be). Through patience and some quick-thinking from my group and me, I was able to manually invite everyone to their individual breakout rooms over the course of the next half hour. From then on the event went on without a hitch; with my hopping around from room to room as needed to answer the occasional tech support question. While the morning undoubtedly began with an inconvenience for them, several faculty members went out of their ways to stop by and thank me for my attentive (if not a bit frantic at times) work throughout the day after finishing up their individual meetings.

As our communities adjust to living and working within a post-COVID-19 world, it is incidental moments such as these that demonstrate the power of compassion and patience during a time when untested plans develop out of necessity, and everyone can only pretend to fully understand what is going on at any given moment.

Community-building and cage-busting naturally match philosophy of IgnitED Labs

The latest all-college meeting for MLFTC at the end of last month was a chance for virtual connection, review, and celebration. The event brought closure for the unique semester we’ve had and some unexpected recognition for the IgnitED Labs and me.

Collaborating with departments both within and outside of the college has been a significant part of my approach as head of the labs. This has led to partnerships with a variety of colleagues in support of their initiatives. For example, Michele Gaines and I worked together to present a technology wellness event last fall. Microsoft has participated with us at outreach and community events as well as come into the Tempe lab to deliver professional learning sessions. Through all of these alliances, I have had the support of my team members, including my supervisor, and my IgnitED Lab staff. Connections have been a priority. I was surprised to learn others noticed that and honored me with the Community-Builder Award as we wrapped up this unusual semester. Knowing students, staff, and faculty members are visiting the labs, learning in the labs, and experiencing the possibilities of emerging technologies is a reward on its own accord. Having others notice the community that evolves from that is something special.

Community Builder award recipient Jodie Donner

Another honor presented in the spring is the Cage-Buster Award. My colleague Karina Cuamea, associate director of undergraduate recruitment, received the award for her creative initiatives aimed at engaging potential students by immersing them in the possibilities at MLFTC. I earned the Community-Builder title in large part due to her cage-busting idea of making the IgnitED Labs experiences a way to captivate those future students. Partnering with her has allowed me to extend our IgnitED Labs possibilities to students who are considering choosing MLFTC. We hope our collaborative work brings even more amazing people to our community.

Cage Buster award recipient Karina Cuamea

According to Karina, “Partnering with IgnitED Labs is a great way to expose prospective students to the many possibilities available to them by choosing MLFTC. We have seen students get excited over the technology offered by IgnitED Labs. Even more so by the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities with VR, 3D, etc. This opens up their minds to the various ways they can utilize technology as future educators!”

Earlier in the semester, Karina and I hosted a group of high school students in the IgnitED Lab at West Campus. Planning and presenting with her is a privilege, and I look forward to our new collaborations, which we may need to redefine in a virtual space. I am certain we are both ready for the challenge.

Students in the IgnitED Lab west

IgnitED Labs and IndigeDesign volunteers 3D print face masks for Navajo Nation

COVID-19 has hit the United States hard and the Navajo Nation is no exception. Many of the community’s members are high risk asthmatic and diabetic with little access to grocery stores, water, and supplies as there are only 13 grocery stores on the Navajo Nation Рa territory that sprawls across 4 states and almost 2,000,000 acres of land (approximately the size of West Virginia). There were 69 cases of COVID-19 (as of 03/26) with projections stating 1 out of 3 Navajos on the reservation will be infected if immediate measures are not taken. Navajo Nation hospitals are not prepared for those numbers. They need items like face masks, gowns, and face shields, but have not received them due to delayed Medical aid in an already ignored reservation community.

Printed face shield frames on the Ultimaker3

The Chief Operating Officer of the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation, and the Emergency Management Specialist (EMS) of the Gallup Indian Medical Center reached out to the IndigeDesign Collab in Phoenix. This Collab works with other organizations and people to help indigenous communities through design. The EMS of Gallup reported that he had only 30 face shields for 200+ healthcare employees in Gallup, NM. The search began for more face shields, and the IndigeDesign Collab sent out requests to use 3D printers.

The Ignited Labs responded to this call within hours of getting this message from the IndigeDesign Collab. The Tempe Lab, which was shut down as a response to the threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, was opened to allow staff to 3D print face shields for the Navajo Nation. I volunteered my time to print face shields while also giving real-time technical support to the Sun Devil Learning Labs by managing Live K-12 educational broadcasts on YouTube. Living close to the campus was helpful as I could hop back and forth from my home to the lab for 3D printing. The IgnitED Labs are producing 6-8 face mask head bands from its Ultimaker 3D printer per day, and is laser cutting transparent shielding material with the Glowforge Laser Engraver. Finally, a representative of the IndigeDesign Collab will collect all these materials and sanitize them as per the FDA guidelines before assembling.

Abhijeet Savant with the face shield frames he made

Future teachers use “chaotic energy” to showcase IgnitED Lab technologies, experiences during MLFTC’s Innovation Day

Ronny Hoopes, Abigail Owen, and Kaleb Freund, first year MLFTC students, brought their podcast “Chaotic Energy” to Innovation Day on November 1.

The three are students in EDT 180 Technology Literacy: Problem Solving using Digital Technology Applications. Many course experiences in EDT 180 align with exploration and use of the emerging technologies within the IgnitED Lab. As a precursor to a large podcast project, this group was part of an in-class activity that required students to develop, record, and produce podcast segments in only a 75-minute time period. With limited equipment and podcasting experience, these students created an engaging and conversational podcast fitting somewhere within the genres of technology and comedy.

After recording and producing in class, some students used the multimedia recording studio and equipment in the IgnitED Lab to produce their lengthier, more in-depth podcasts. The staff in the IgnitED Lab provide students guidance and support as these education majors learn how technologies influence their learning and consider how their future students will approach the changes in education as a result of the ever changing technological options.

The focus of “Chaotic Energy” on Innovation Day was applying Principled Innovation to experiences in the lab as well as teaching and learning. They delved into ethical issues related to artificial intelligence and its use in education and 3D printing concerns. They also talked about the benefits of emerging technologies, especially for students who may not find success in traditional classroom settings. Although the team is still working on distribution plans for the podcast, covering these pivotal topics is an example of the authentic efforts created by talented educational advocates within the college. These first year students are elevating their learning by addressing Principled Innovation related to technology and considering implications for their future students.