When the idea of Sun Devil Learning Labs (SDLL) first emerged within Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in March, it was in response to a sudden and unexpected challenge coming from COVID-19 and the statewide closing of K-12 schools. The idea of SDLL is an online educational platform for MLFTC student teachers, known as Teacher Candidates, to continue to teach their assigned grade levels as required by their degree program while all K-12 schools are closed.
To create SDLL, a large team from across the college quickly came together over the course of one week and through the weekend, immediately after ASU schools closed in mid-March. As part of this effort, staff from the Office of Scholarship and Innovation (OofSI), along with the IgnitED Labs student staff, began preparing to produce live streams onto YouTube.
The collective production team started training and testing to perfect the use of virtual meeting platform Zoom as a meeting space from which to broadcast the lessons. Teacher Candidates meet daily on Zoom where scheduled webinars are streamed live through YouTube with educational lesson plans that are created by the groups of student teachers.
Inside of the Sun Devil Learning Labs, we have been working collaboratively to simultaneously produce the live stream channels on YouTube for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Grades 1-8 while staying connected through Slack messaging to keep tabs on all streaming content. In my specific role as a Coordinator and co-manager of the IgnitED Labs student staff, I have been starting the Grade 2 channel daily since the start of SDLL. Lead Technology Strategist/Head of IgnitED Labs Jodie Donner, Management Intern Caitlin Jorgensen, and I put together a schedule with our available student staff and another OofSI colleague, Multimedia Specialist Claire Gilbert, to cover all broadcasts for each week. I provide coverage assistance and immediate troubleshooting for any technology related issues with Zoom or YouTube live streams. There have been many lessons learned along the way, as everyone has worked to understand the intricacies of managing and producing eight live broadcasts. Our team of student staff and unit staff met daily to reflect, assess, and resolve issues during the first two weeks.
Throughout the day, there are four main subjects that go live starting at 9 a.m. and transition at every hour until 1 p.m.: English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies/Art. Each channel producer oversees the live stream of content and transitions the Teacher Candidates in small groups for each subject hour. While the Teacher Candidates are live, their assigned MLFTC Site Leads often coach them in the Zoom virtual chat. The channel producers also resolve issues and answer questions during the live stream, which sometimes involve very fast technology training and troubleshooting. After the “soft launch” week of SDLL, all production members, teacher candidates, and site leads who manage the student teachers have overcome a variety of problems with live broadcasts that have made the following weeks up to now nearly seamless.
Currently, our production team is working hard from early morning to early afternoon managing the live stream educational broadcasts on YouTube. Understanding that the majority of the production team are students who still have classes to attend and other commitments that demand their attention truly highlights their tireless effort. It may only take a few unit staff members to assist live production, but witnessing students help other students is nothing short of moving. This epidemic has clarified the need for community and the importance of coming together to help one another during these trying times – and the IgnitED Labs student staff are the perfect examples of how we can all help in some way.