Sun Devil Learning Labs

Sun Devil Learning Labs is a virtual platform that provided meaningful clinical experiences for MLFTC teacher candidates and supported local students and families during the pandemic.


When COVID-19 caused schools to close during the Spring 2020 semester, our college was faced with the question of how to continue to provide the necessary hours and support for our teacher candidates (TCs) who were in their senior residency year to ensure that they could graduate on time. Principled Innovation was a central part of the conversation as we also wanted our TCs to be civically engaged and provide a service to both our partner districts and to the community. Within days, through an intense collaborative effort spanning MLFTC, the Sun Devil Learning Labs (SDLL) were born.

What we did

Sun Devil Learning Labs started as a YouTube-based live broadcast via Zoom for grades Pre-K through 8. Each grade level was designated a specific channel, accessible on the MLFTC website, that aired from 9am – 2pm Monday through Thursday. SDLL had two objectives: provide meaningful clinical experiences for our TCs and support our communities in the midst of a global crisis. The first iteration of SDLL, which ran from late March through late April, included 17 faculty members, approximately 450 TCs, and staff from several MLFTC teams.

The second iteration of the project, SDLL 1.5, began in the summer of 2020, and included MLFTC faculty, teachers from the Creighton School District, and paid TCs. We utilized the Principled Innovation framework to reflect on our efforts and engage thoughtfully with our community partners to design SDLL 1.5. We discussed the structure of SDLL with the Creighton School District and the Boys and Girls Club and identified the need to support Arizona’s many bilingual families by providing all written materials in Spanish. This included partnering with a translation and caption firm to caption all videos in both English (for deaf and hard of hearing learners) and Spanish (for bilingual students). In doing so, we were able to meet the needs of a large portion of our local student population and education community.

In addition, our team worked with the MLFTC Marketing team and the Public Broadcasting Station KAET to televise edited recorded lessons from the live broadcast of SDLL 1.0 for Tempe and Glendale public access TV stations over the summer from April through August.


The key impact of SDLL was enabling MLFTC Teacher Candidates to continue their clinical experiences and to provide the local Pre-K-8 community the opportunity to engage in live lessons online during the pandemic shutdown. The SDLL site was used for the spring 1.0 version as well as version 1.5 in the summer. In addition, a group of staff and faculty who were involved in SDLL wrote an article and chapter submission reflecting on the experience and how it reflects the college’s core value of Principled Innovation.


MLFTC Division of Teacher Preparation, Office of Professional Experiences, and Office of Digital Learning

Creighton School District

The Boys and Girls Club


March - August 2020

Related resources

Blog posts

Creating an efficient workflow for MLFTC’s SDLL 1.5

In response to educational instruction having moved online, members from numerous departments of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College (MLFTC) have worked to launch Sun Devil Learning Labs (SDLL) 1.5.

Supporting Sun Devil Learning Labs during travels

Over the past few months, we have been faced with a multitude of circumstances which we could have never imagined. Many people, including myself, have had to move back home, leaving college sooner than we expected. As summer approached, I found myself worried that I would have nothing to fill my days.

Inside the broadcasting of the Sun Devil Learning Labs

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.


Slice of PI podcast

This podcast showcases the work being done within Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College with an eye to Principled Innovation. The show examines the process of changemaking -- not just the neat and polished side, but the messy realities of innovation as well. Each episode features faculty, staff and/or students, and delves into a different area of work within the Teachers College.


Flying dice! Lookout!

The School Design Game

Engage groups of educators in a game that simulates the possibilities and pitfalls of using the design process in a school setting. This game promotes thoughtful discussion and highlights various design-based solutions throughout the stages of a design process: Inquire, Imagine, Iterate, Communicate, and Connect.