Royce Robertson Headshot

Royce Robertson

2020–2021 SCUP Fellow and Director, Instructional Design and Academic Technology
Le Moyne College

SCUP Coaches: Pamme Boutselis, Senior Content Director, Marketing & Communications, Southern New Hampshire University;Antoinette Farmer-Thompson, Deputy Vice President, Educational Outreach & Student Services, Arizona State University; Kathe Lehman-Meyer, Academic Media Center & Director Interim Director, Najim Center for Business Innovation, Academic Technology Services, St. Mary’s University

Read their research report

Watch his SCUP 2021 Annual Conference presentation: Designing and Developing Mature, Mission-aligned Online Academic Courses

Royce Robertson, EdD, is director of academic technology at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. As director, he is responsible for designing and developing support faculty support systems related to instructional design, learning management systems, course and program assessment platforms and other tools used in physical and virtual classrooms. Previously, Robertson was director of outcomes assessment for teacher licensure programs at Walden University. In that role, he designed, developed and implemented ePortfolios used for program assessment. Before that, he served in various roles at Plymouth State University, lastly as Associate Professor of Education and Technology where he taught, advised and coordinated a graduate program in school technology leadership. He is the co-author of Designing an Instrument to Observe and Evaluate Assessment System Maturity, and has published and presented online course design, assessment planning, assessment system maturity as well as ePortfolios.

Robertson earned an undergraduate degree in Earth Science Education at Western Michigan University. Subsequently, he earned a Masters and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership from Plymouth State University, as well as a doctorate of education in curriculum and instruction from Argosy University – Sarasota.

SCUP Fellows Research Project

Project Title: Designing and Developing Mature, Mission-Aligned Online Academic Programs at Jesuit Institutions

Project Description:

Early June 2014: I was very early on in my career at Le Moyne College. This was my first experience teaching a non-secular – in this case, Jesuit – institution. One of my early discussions was with one of the Jesuits, who asked me, “Royce, what makes an online course Jesuit?” My initial response was, “The design. You have to plan for how the student will engage in the Jesuit tradition.” Frankly, it was great impromptu response; however, it ignited a curiosity in me regarding how to actually make it Jesuit in a fashion that could be consistent from module to module, course to course and program to program. I still wasn’t sure how, but I did know that maturing the design and development process at the institution was an admirable strategic direction. Fast forward almost five years…

The purpose of this fellowship is to observe maturation of the design and development of mission-aligned online academic programs at Jesuit institutions. Online academic programs in American higher education are often used to meet a wide range of institution needs including access, curricular gaps, demand, revenue, etc. (Bacow, Bowen, Guthrie, Lack & Long, 2012; Crosslin, Benham, Dellinger, Patterson, Semingson, Spann, Usman, Watkins, 2018; King & Alperstein, 2018). Institutions often struggle with barriers to implementing successful online academic programs including external competition for enrollment, faculty commitment, internal competition for students, program quality, role of online education, varying fee structures, etc. (Bacow, Bowen, Guthrie, Lack & Long, 2012; Crosslin, Benham, Dellinger, Patterson, Semingson, Spann, Usman, Watkins, 2018; King & Alperstein, 2018). Jesuit institutions have an additional criterion for success: achieving their unique non-secular mission. In order to build successful online academic programs that achieve the institutional mission, developers must identify and implement tactics to mature the process used to development the courses in the program according to the principles of Ignatian (Jesuit) Pedagogy (Seattle University, n.d.). Applying concepts in planning and maturity, would improve the design and development processes that lead to the implementation of the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP) online academic programs at Jesuit institutions of higher education. In general, maturity models have two purposes: formalize and optimize. The purpose of formalizing is to define processes related to the development of a product or program. Formalization entails four phases: Plan, Build, Implement, and Evaluate (PBIE). Optimization involves accounting for the frequency and purpose of performing a task. There are five levels: initial, repeatable, defined, capable, and efficient (Hammer, 2007; Humphrey, 1987, 1989).

The supposition of this project is that when mission-aligned activities are intentionally planned, built, implemented and evaluated, then maturity of the program can improve the degree to which students achieve the goals of the academic program as well as the mission-aligned outcomes of Jesuit education. Likewise, as planning is optimized, maturity can be applied consistently across online programs; therefore, maintain the rigor and secular integrity of the institution.

Project Goal and Applicability:

The project is guided by three general questions and subsequent goals.

RQ1. What does a mature, mission-aligned online program development process look like at a Jesuit IHE? Goal: Define operational, observable traits of maturity across mission-aligned online programs at Jesuit institutions.

RQ2. What are common planning tasks in a mature, mission-aligned online program development at a Jesuit IHE? Goal: Define specific, operational planning tasks that foster mature online program development of mission-aligned online programs at Jesuit institutions.

RQ3. What is the ideal design and content of an instrument used to assess mature, mission-aligned online program development at a Jesuit IHE? Goal: Develop an instrument used by internal and external constituents to assess online program development of mission-aligned online programs at Jesuit institutions.

Project Methodology & Rationale:

Due to the formative, constructive nature of the project, a combination methodology including ethnography (Gobo, 2008) and a development method (Richey & Klein, 2005) will be used. First, a critical, modern literature review will be performed. Second, the collection, development and analysis of non-participant documents, including observation instruments, interview questions and survey items that will be used to determine the context of online program maturity. Third, after achieving approval of the local Institutional Review Board (IRB), identification and agreement of participants will occur, ideally including deans, directors of online learning, instructional designers, program designers, and any other roles related to the design and development of mission-aligned online academic programs at Jesuit institutions. Fourth, the process observation and instrument-based data collection will be prepared. Fifth, specific observational, interview, survey techniques will be implemented. Sixth, analysis will include central tendencies, as well as qualitative coding (Saldana, 2013; Spradley, 1979). Seventh, generalizations and conclusions will be used to inform RQ1 and RQ2; thereby, developing the documents described in the goal statement for each RQ. Eighth, the information collected in the first, second, fifth, sixth and seventh steps will be used to determine the design and content of the instrument used to evaluate online academic program planning maturity. Finally, findings and resulting documents will be presented locally, regionally, and at the annual conference. Also, manuscript summaries will be presented or published elsewhere.

Project Deliverables:

This project involves the creation of five deliverables critical to informing the research questions:

3-5-page project summary for SCUP

Presentation at SCUP annual conference

Workbook including:

  • Maturity trait definition (align: RQ1)
  • Maturity planning tasks (align: RQ2)
  • Maturity assessment instrument (align: RQ3)

What do you hope to learn from SCUP?

After 20+ years in higher education, I would like to spend the next 3-5 years of my career learning effective strategic and operational planning in the context of online learning. Participation in SCUP will provide me general and specific planning knowledge and skill.

After attending a strategic planning working at the Middle States Annual Conference (2018), facilitated by Dr. Nicholas Santilli (SCUP Lead Facilitator), I want to develop practical knowledge and skill in strategic planning facilitation, especially in terms of team, departments, and programs prior to whole institutions.

Given that the IHE landscape for online learning is varied, fluid, and relatively untested, I am eager to interact with professionals within the SCUP network to refine my own thinking and actions relative to planning online program development.