Conversation with an Instructional Designer – Villa Vance

Mountain View College is pleased to introduce Villa Vance, an Instructional Designer from the LeCroy Center, who is providing consultation support twice a month on our campus. Please take a moment to learn more about her, in her own words.


Please tell everyone what an Instructional Designer is and what types of services and support they provide?

Instructional design (ID) is a broad area for me. Depending on where you work, it can mean different things in every area. But in higher education an instructional designer basically helps with course design. From planning and analysis, design and structuring the flow of the course, management, implementation, and evaluation. But it does not necessarily mean we always start from planning. A faculty and/or staff could come to us, and they may have done all the analysis and planning. Our job then is to help with the design and structure. As an instructional designer for the district at DCCCD we can support faculty and staff with questions about course design, course copy/template, course clean up and management, eCampus/blackboard (from simple questions about adding a syllabus to complex issue about gradebook, eConnect, Quality Matters (QM), etc. We also assist and deliver professional development workshops and presentations.


What is your professional background and why did you choose this field as a profession?

My undergrad is a BS in Computer Science and I have a master’s degree in Learning Technology with focus in Instructional Systems and Design from University of North Texas. I am also a License Vocational Nurse (LVN) but haven’t practiced for a few years now. Previously, I was an instructional designer for the eLearning Center at Collin College. I also worked for America Online (AOL) in the Philippines back when it was still famous. I stumbled into Instructional Design when I was in nursing school doing my preceptorship. I wanted to combine my computer science degree and healthcare experience and do some training work. But, I didn’t end up in the healthcare, so I chose the next best thing. To add to that, I started working for eLearning in another college and it sort of started my drive to do instructional design.

What does working in higher education mean to you?

Two things: I get to take a holiday when it is a holiday and I love being involved in a community. During my undergrad years I was very involved in my school and I think that’s when it started… somewhere in my subconscious mind, I always wanted to work in a school, so I chose higher education. Seriously, working in higher education is so great because you get to work with diverse people who help mold and share the next generation. It also means that I don’t have to be stagnant. I always need to keep up with my education/professional growth to make sure the faculty/staff I am helping are up to date with current trends.


What was the very first job you ever had and what skills did it teach you?

My first job was an adjunct faculty. It was the first job offer I got a few months after graduation. If I remember it correctly, I taught computer 101, turbo pascal and another computer languages. And because of the adjunct position, I was hired by another college to teach 3 more courses. It was challenging at first because most of my students were only a few years younger than me (1 to 2 years) and I had one class with only male students. From these two jobs, it taught me to adapt and be flexible with many different types of audiences and/or clients. It also helped in being able to communicate better. I’ve learned how to mentor others and ensure that I am constantly learning as well. I’ve also learn to take risks and be imaginative when it comes to teaching.

What about instructional design is most exciting to you?

What I find really exciting in instructional design is when I get to see the faculty I am helping flourish and be able to take the advice I gave them and use it in their course. Afterwards they’ve come back to me and tell me that it made teaching more fun or how it has a positive effect on their courses and students.

What is your first impression of Mountain View College?

I love it! The environment is very relaxing. And so far, the faculty and staff I’ve met are very nice. I like the location of the college also, tucked away in its own little place.


What is one thing you’d love to accomplish working with the amazing faculty and staff at Mountain View College?

One thing that I would like to accomplish is to establish a good rapport with the faculty and staff. And hopefully that will open the door to have more engagement, so I can better serve them.

Is instructional design limited to only those who teach in the classroom?

Definitely not. Instructional design can be applied to many different things. For example, if you are looking at a recipe online with step by step process on how to cook something, that particular process was created by someone. In some ways, they had to go through a process to put together the recipe. It may not encompass the hard-core parts and it doesn’t necessarily include all the nitty gritty parts of instructional design, but instruction and design are everywhere.

How should a faculty member prepare for a consultation with an Instructional Designer?

The preparation for a consult with the instructional designer really depends on what the faculty need help with. But the first thing that the faculty or staff need to do is to make sure to set up an appointment with the ID. This will make sure both you and the ID will be prepared because there is some sort of pre-arranged agreement for the appointment.


If interested in learning more or collaborating one-on-one, what are the next steps one should take?

Let’s chat! Essentially giving us time to collaborate on what you want to do with your course and how I can assist you. This will also give me the chance to meet more of the wonderful staff and faculty of Mountain View College.

If you would like to set up a consultation with Villa, please fill out an ID Consultation Request.


New Employee Interview – Jennifer McGuire

We’d like to take the time to recognize one of our newest employees (new to the eLearning and Professional Development office that is) to Mountain View College. Please take a moment to learn more about them, in their own words.


Jennifer McGuire, Distance Education Instructional Applications Integration Specialist

Please tell everyone your new title and a little bit about your professional background.

I am proud to be the new Distance Education Instructional Applications Integration Specialist, within the Teaching and Learning Center at Mountain View College. In this role, I will be collaborating with faculty in curriculum design and content development, for a variety of course delivery formats.

I have 7 years of graphic design and publishing experience and over 20 years of technology, office, and management experience, including time in educational institutions. I also teach Microsoft Office courses within the Career and Technical Education (CATE) division and am proud to hold both faculty and support roles.

I began my professional career with a heavy focus in office productivity, administrative support and emerging technologies. In leadership roles, I managed a housekeeping service in Dallas for 11 years and also created an Australian Publishing House, serving as the Chief Operations Officer for 6 years. Although this position is new to me, I have worked at Mountain View College for the past 3 years and look forward to utilizing all of my technology, troubleshooting, design, and support experience in serving the needs of the institution.

What drew you to apply to Mountain View College?

I have always felt more comfortable working in an education setting. Once the publishing house became self-sufficient, I decided to return to an industry I loved. After researching the different institutions in the area, DCCCD appealed the most to me. I applied for every position that I met the qualifications. I interviewed at three campuses and felt the most at home at Mountain View. I was so excited when I received the call from HR offering me the job here.

What does working in higher education mean to you?

Working in higher education gives me the opportunity to change people’s lives. Every job on campus affects the students. If I can have one conversation with a student that helps them realize their passion and ignite their desire to pursue it, then I have accomplished something great.


On the car ride to work, what do you listen to?

I listen to audiobooks during my commute. I’ve just started re-listening to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward to prepare for the release of the next two books.


What was the very first job you ever had and what skills did it teach you?

My first job was as a checker at Minyard Food Stores. The most important skill I learned was customer service. I loved the interaction with the customers. I was 15 years-old and could only work Saturday and Sunday from 8-5, so I got to know the regular customers. They loved that I went the extra mile to get to know them and hold a genuine conversation when they came through my line. Expressing concern for their family and daily life or congratulating them for successes would always reward me with a genuine smile. I learned to always speak with a smile. The most difficult customer can be eased if you just listen to them and reply smiling.

What about your new position is most exciting for you?

I am a huge geek. I love everything dealing with technology. I am the first person my friends and family call when they can’t figure out a new program on their computer, or how to work their new smart phone. I love that I will get to learn all of the cool programs and gadgets to make online learning more interactive and engaging.

What is one thing you’d love to accomplish in your first year?

During my first year in this position, I would love to put together a series of short how-to videos for Blackboard. I feel this would be a great tool for both faculty and students to refer to for the basic functions they utilize on a daily basis.

What three accomplishments are you most proud of in your life?

  1. I live in my dream home mortgage free.
  2. Maintaining a 4.0 GPA while working full-time and having a family to care for.
  3. Building substantial, lasting relationships with my co-workers.

What is your favorite sports team and why are you a lifelong fan?

I am a die-hard Dallas Stars fan. I’ve never been a huge sports fan. When the Minnesota Stars moved to Dallas my husband got me hooked on the sport. I love the fast-pace of the game. Due to the Dallas Stars being the team my husband introduced me to the sport with and them being the home town team, I will never stray.

For MVC’s Annual Employee Talent Show (this doesn’t actually exist), what hidden talent would you showcase to everyone?

This one is extremely hard for me. I’m not a performer by nature. I tend to hang back in the shadows and work the tech for the performers. The only people who truly see the performer in me are those that I know and am comfortable being myself around. Having said this, I would say karaoke. When no one is around, I’m the best singer out there 😉


Jennifer McGuire, Distance Education Instructional Applications Integration Specialist

Growing Into My New Role

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.” – Muhammad Ali

A Very Big Thank You

I would like to thank my colleagues (you know who you are) for your encouragement and support throughout the application process for the Director of Organizational and Staff Development, here at Mountain View College. Each of you has believed in me and my vision for success.


My New Role

My new role officially began on July 8, 2016. From that day forward, my life drastically changed as I hit the ground running! The very first day I met with Steve Sosa, Dean of eLearning and Instructional Support, and we started planning for Fall 2016 Return Week. I must confess that I felt a bit overwhelmed at first (like drinking from a fire hose) but knew I made the right decision as we came up with new and creative ways to engage the MVC family.


Return Week By the Numbers

MVC Return Week

  • 26 Workshops Led by MVC Family Members
  • 2 Major Events (Convocation and Strategic Planning Kickoff)
  • 80 Support Volunteers in Various Roles

DCCCD Conference Day

  • 2,103 Attendees in Total
  • 137 MVC Attendees

DCCCD Part-time Conference Day

  • 250 Attendees in Total
  • 28 MVC Attendees


Wearing Many Hats

Fall 2016 Return Week, as big as it was, would prove to be just a small part of my overall role. Since that time I’ve also attended training workshops across campus, been involved with the district-wide Professional Development Council, began work on our new monthly newsletter, developed our (un)official Professional Development Communication Plan, met peers across the district, and collaborated on multiple trainings and workshops. In one word…whew! Steve has to remind me at times to make sure that I actually sneak out and take a lunch break since time tends to fly by so fast in my new role!


Looking to the Future

But wait, there’s more! I’d love the opportunity to meet with departments and discuss the types of training/workshops they would like to see related to future professional development. One major updated we are planning is a complete revamp of both the eLearning and Professional Development websites. We’d like to make sure that the information displayed is updated, relevant to your needs, and brings a little bit of transparency to the process behind the scenes.

Stay tuned for these and many more updates to come. We’re only just getting started!

Thank You, Return Week Volunteers


There are many reasons to be “MVC Proud.” We serve a diverse community, promote student success and employee achievement, and help transform communities.


We are also proud of employees who came together to make Return Week 2016 possible. Many volunteered to lead workshops, share their knowledge and passion, and provide insight into the meaning behind the work we all do.


A huge thank you goes out to facilities, marketing, media, individual presenters, employee and student volunteers, our own Leo the Lion, and the best Student Ambassadors on earth! We could not have gotten through Return Week without each of your support.


Your make us MVC Proud and we are so very lucky to have you as part of the MVC family!


Return Week Photo Gallery


Need proof that MVC had the best Return Week ever! Look no further then our very own photo gallery, which represents the very best of what makes MVC proud!


In total, MVC held twenty-eight sessions throughout the week. When you see a presenter in the hallway, make sure to give them a high-five!


We also welcomed our new Vice President of Instruction, Dr. Lori Doddy, while thanking our former VPI, Dr. Ken Alfers.


In case you didn’t know it, Deans can dance. Our very own Sandy Wyche, with more than a little help from Gilda Nunez led a workshop on “Cumbia & Other Dancing from SouthTexas.”


Convocation itself got off to a great start as everyone in the audience was encouraged (nope…that’s not a typo) to utilize their cell phones while taking an live quiz. This was a great utilization of instructional technology!


Right after Convocation everyone was invited to lunch and a strategic planning workshop that helped begin this collaborative process at MVC. Stay tuned for even more strategic planning opportunities in the months to follow.


Return Week Photo Gallery


New Employee Interview – Rebecca McDowell

We’d like to take the time to recognize one of our newest employees (new to the eLearning and Professional Development office that is) to Mountain View College. Please take a moment to learn more about them, in their own words.


Rebecca McDowell, Director of Organizational and Staff Development

Please tell everyone your new title and a little bit about your professional background.

Director of Organizational and Staff Development
I graduated from Illinois State University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Parks and Recreation Administration. I have over 10 year’s management experience in retail sales, 3 years’ experience as a Program Supervisor for the Village of Orland Park Recreation and Parks Department developing training and recreational programs. I moved to TX in 2012 where I was a Director of a Member’s Benefit Department for Five Star Institute, a mortgage banking industry. Currently employed with Mountain View College since August 2014.

What drew you to apply to Mountain View College?

I am a current employee of MVC. I have been employed with MVC for almost two years. I enjoy empowering people and transforming communities.

I really liked the job description and the working duties for the Director of Organizational and Staff Development. I believe to be a good fit for the job and an asset to the team. On the top of that, I am MVC Proud!

On the car ride to work, what do you listen to?

97.9 The Beat-Rickey Smiley Morning Show
They are hilarious! They put me in a good mood for work!

What was the very first job you ever had and what skills did it teach you?

I babysat at the age of 13. It taught me responsibility at a young age. I enjoy the creativity children have at such a young age.

What about your new position is most exciting for you?

Implementing strategic organizational processes and learning initiatives. Also, planning and implementation of staff development activities and programs for college faculty and staff.

What is one thing you’d love to accomplish in your first year?

I would like to accomplish a successful return week for Fall 2016 and Spring 2017. I take pride in working hard for others and seeing the joy and excitement on their faces. I also would like to update our department’s website to provide resourceful information to our staff.

What three accomplishments are you most proud of in your life?

1. Getting married
2. My child
3. Accepting the Director of Organizational and Staff Development Position at MVC

What is your favorite sports team and why are you a lifelong fan?

Chicago Bears
My father was a huge Bears fan and I remember as a child watching the game he so loved on Sunday afternoons. My husband is from the Chicagoland area (Southside) and has been a fan since a young boy. We enjoy watching and attending the games.

For MVC’s Annual Employee Talent Show (this doesn’t actually exist), what hidden talent would you showcase to everyone?

My dance skills. I enjoy attending Zumba and Aerobics classes at the gym. I am not a pro by any means but can keep up with the beat!

MVC is often described as a family. What does family mean to you?

It means family connection. Exploring together new programs and opportunities that can bring great value to our students, staff, and community.


Rebecca McDowell, Director of Organizational and Staff Development