When Instructional Technologist Arlene Mendoza-Moran joined DELTA two years ago, she stepped out of her comfort zone and into a brand new career. While attending high school in her hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, she landed her first job at a research lab, a position that would set the tone for the next 20 years. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Master of Ecology from Duke University, she worked as a biological and agricultural researcher in government, industry and academia.
Her long-time role as a research technician and lab manager with NC State’s Department of Plant Pathology introduced her to DELTA. Mendoza-Moran contributed to the development of a DELTA Grants course, Principles of Plant Pathology (PP 315), with Instructor David Shew. As the team designed the course’s online labs, she collaborated with her future colleagues at DELTA and became interested in the possibilities of online instruction.
“Working with that course was a lot of fun and really eye-opening. I found that I really liked working with course technology. That got me hooked,” she says. “It made me realize what a special thing DELTA is.”
So when a position opened in Instructional Technology and Training (ITT), Mendoza-Moran seized the opportunity. She now serves DELTA and NC State from the unique perspective of a former client and a staff member who understands the value of educational technology.
“I was ready for a different set of challenges,” she says. “It was a complete and total career shift. It was the biggest risk I probably have ever taken, and it has paid off immensely.”
How would you describe your position to someone unfamiliar with DELTA?
“I actually have to do this quite often, because there’s not a really consistent definition for what an instructional technologist is,” says Mendoza-Moran. “My role as an instructional technologist is to support faculty using best practices for online course design and effective use of technology, and that takes many forms.”
These include teaching workshops and webinars, consulting with faculty, and under the leadership of Lead Instructional Designer Bethanne Tobey, developing the Course Quality Program (CQP), DELTA’s robust effort to improve online instruction and implement the principles of Quality Matters (QM) at NC State.
CQP has become a source of passion that Mendoza-Moran is committed to helping grow in a number of ways. As she leads lessons in best practices and tools for online instruction, she infuses course quality principles in a subtle, approachable way for a wide audience of faculty and staff. Mendoza-Moran is also an advisor for CQP and an online facilitator for Applying the Quality Matters Rubric, the first step in the program.
“Quality Matters provides a framework for everyone to achieve those standards of high-quality online instruction. It’s not just one size fits all –– there’s a number of ways we want to develop for people to achieve those kinds of successes with their own courses. I’m all in,” she says.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
“There is really no ‘day-to-day’ activity. I’ve got a lot of different things that I’m working on simultaneously, and I love it all,” says Mendoza-Moran.
When she’s not developing workshops, supporting CQP and assisting faculty with learning technologies and course design, you can find her serving on one of DELTA’s many committees.
In January, 2020, she became the co-chair of the WolfWare Best Practices Committee, a space for DELTA to address faculty wants and needs. Mendoza-Moran is no stranger to WolfWare. She was initially hired to manage WolfWare WordPress training and support, and the transition from WolfWare Classic was her first major project at DELTA.
Mendoza-Moran also plans to learn more about the back-end development of instructional technology and how this impacts faculty as an observer with LMS Tactical. This knowledge helps her to act as a bridge between learning technologies and her clients’ goals.
“It’s been so valuable to be part of those conversations,” she says. “I feel like I’m very much an interface between the inner workings and the outer face of the technology. In [ITT], part of our goal is to make sure that things are set up for success at the beginning.”
Mendoza-Moran previously served as the co-chair of the DELTA Activities Committee, planning events like the Halloween costume contest, the Thanksgiving potluck, the holiday cookie swap and more. No matter the occasion, she enjoyed the opportunity to bring people together.
“The great thing about DELTA is that it is such a fun community. People are glad to be here, happy to work with each other and like to talk and have fun,” she says.
What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on?
“Definitely working with the Course Quality team and developing CQP. Helping to implement and infuse QM culture throughout DELTA as well as throughout NC State and seeing the interest and awareness grow is so exciting,” says Mendoza-Moran.
As the number of certified courses and students impacted climbs, she credits the team behind the project for their dedication and talent.
“We all have the same goals. It’s been such a productive project,” she says. “When you see other people around you consistently performing at such a high level of achievement and passion, it’s impossible not to want to do that yourself.”
Mendoza-Moran has also enjoyed bringing H5P to NC State, an interactive media tool and one of her areas of expertise. She first explored H5P in a previous role and introduced the technology to DELTA upon arrival. H5P continues to gain exposure with new integrations for Moodle, and Mendoza-Moran is excited to promote its implementation and assist a variety of users at NC State.
“The adoption of H5P has really changed the landscape for teaching for a lot of people. As far as providing something to instructors that really adds value and engagement to their courses, I’m proud of having found H5P,” she says.
Mendoza-Moran and DELTA colleagues will soon present at conferences to share the successes of both H5P and CQP as well as their impacts at NC State.
What makes your job special?
“It’s the same thing everybody else says –– it’s the people. I could not do half of what I do if I did not have such an amazing team surrounding me and amazing coworkers that have such breadth and depth of knowledge.”
Mendoza-Moran considers herself a lifelong learner, and she contributes to this legacy every day at DELTA. Not only does she take joy in helping students, faculty and staff improve their learning, she’s constantly learning from her coworkers at DELTA. It’s these aspects of her job that push her toward excellence.
“That’s what I find working with a lot of people at DELTA –– their passion for what they do and why they do it is so contagious, and it bleeds into every aspect of being here. Having that kind of positive energy with passion behind it drives me and adds to the part of my nature that wants to do better.”
Mendoza-Moran’s location at the Center for Innovation and Technology also plays a role in fueling her devotion and excitement for what she does.
“I sit at the busiest corner in the DELTA offices –– across from the breakroom and right at the entrance –– and I get to hear everyone’s effusive passion for what they do everyday. Yes it’s noisy, but it’s also really inspiring. I don’t think there’s any way that you cannot absorb some of that energy and want to incorporate it into your own work.”
What do you like to do outside of work?
“I play music in a very informal band called Unlimited Screen Time.”
The band, which includes her husband, Tim Moran, and a group of friends, covers ’80s rock hits in their spare time. Although the group is entirely composed of full-time professionals (collectively boasting two master’s degrees, three medical degrees, four doctorates and five children), they still find time to come together for their own enjoyment. The band is also available to play events, where you can listen to Mendoza-Moran lend her skills as a keyboardist, percussionist and singer.
“It’s incredibly fun. We do it for ourselves. It’s another way of applying my creative and analytical energy,” she says.
Mendoza-Moran also enjoys spending time with her three sons, Ian, 13, Max, 11, and Stephen, 8.