Categories
ISTE Standard 1: Change Agent ISTE Standard 2: Connected Learner ISTE Standard 3: Collaborator ISTE Standard 4: Learning Designer ISTE Standard 5: Professional Learning Facilitator ISTE Standard 6: Data-Driven Decision-Maker ISTE Standard 7: Digital Citizen Advocate

Digital literacy: An essential component of professional competence in the nutrition and dietetics profession

In an era of evolving digital technology, it is essential that university dietetics programs incorporate curriculum on digital literacy in preparation of student contributions to the collective digital media environment.  This instruction is an important aspect of professional competence, as it will provide students with tools needed to critically navigate sources of information available on the Internet, and subsequently increase their competence as providers of evidence-based food and nutrition information available to the public.  When thinking of outcomes succeeding instruction on digital literacy, a component of digital professionalism, Ellaway et al. (2015) state that “professionals should maintain the capacity for deliberate, ethical, and accountable practice when using digital media” (p. 844).  

Deye (2017) defines digital literacy as “. . . the use and security of interactive digital tools and searchable networks. This includes the ability to use digital tools safely and effectively for learning, collaborating and producing.”  Digital literacy is reflected in the International Society for Technology in Education’s Coaching Standard Digital Citizen Advocate (7c): “Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions” (International Society for Technology in Education). 

Prior to becoming credentialed practitioners, dietetics students should be able to demonstrate competence in digital literacy through proper access, utilization, and referencing of online sources. Skills acquired in digital literacy will enable dietetics students to critically evaluate online nutrition and health information prior to referencing their curated digital communications intended for consumer communications.  Paulus, Baker, and Langford (2019) assert that “. . . we should enable our students to use [information and communications technology] ICTs to create contributions to public knowledge while they are still in school.  ‘. . . Students work best when they know their work is for their future beyond school…when they realize their work contributes (p. 55).’” An earlier start to contributing to the collection of digitally accessed, evidence-based food and nutrition information may further enhance identity formation as professionals while students are still in college.   

However, for dietetics students to be competent in digital literacy, it is essential that they understand the ethical considerations when making contributions to the digital media landscape.  Regarding competencies related to access, utilization, and referencing of online sources, Helm (2016) describes this as “content credibility,” and states the best practices in this area are as follows (p. 1828):

  • “Always provide accurate and truthful information.
  • Distinguish between science-based facts and a personal point of view.
  • Share only information from credible sources.
  • Include the source of nutrition studies or claims cited.
  • Place results of new studies in context.
  • Correct misinformation and respond to inaccuracies.”

Helm’s words of wisdom reflect several principles housed within the Code of Ethics for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession, which are listed here:

  • “1a. Practice using an evidence-based approach within areas of competence, continuously develop and enhance expertise, and recognize limitations
  • 1b.Demonstrate in depth scientific knowledge of food, human nutrition and behavior.
  • 1c. Assess the validity and applicability of scientific evidence without personal bias.
  • 2d. Respect intellectual property rights, including citation and recognition of the ideas and work of others, regardless of the medium (e.g. written, oral, electronic).
  • 2e. Provide accurate and truthful information in all communications.
  • 3d.Refrain from communicating false, fraudulent, deceptive, misleading, disparaging or unfair statements or claims” (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

Additionally, Helm (2016) discusses the importance of giving proper credit and providing citations to the original source of information. In the case of citing other blogs, the author pointed out that there must be a link to the original source of information as well as proper credit to the author or organization for which the author works.

In summary, when instructing students on the use of digital media tools to communicate evidence-based information, we must recognize that they are still learning core content, including key concepts in food and nutritional sciences as well as methods used and ethics involved in accessing digital information. Thus, it is important that students are knowledgeable in digital literacy and ethics as well as applicable core content before they publish information online, but these experiences are encouraged to increase to the contributions of evidence-based food and nutrition available to consumers as well as aid in the development of students’ professional identity formation.  

References

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Code of Ethics for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession. https://www.eatrightpro.org/practice/code-of-ethics/what-is-the-code-of-ethics

Deye, S. (2017). Promoting digital literacy and citizenship in school. National Conference of State Legislators, 25(7). https://www.ncsl.org/research/education/promoting-digital-literacy-and-citizenship-in-school

Ellway, R, Coral J, Topps, D, Topps, M. (2015). Exploring digital professionalism. Medical Teacher, 37(9), 844-849. https://doi.org/10.3109/0142159X.2015.1044956    

Helm, J. (2016). Practice paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Social media and the dietetics practitioner. Opportunities, challenges, and best practices. J Acad Nutr Diet, 116: 1825-1835. 

International Society for Technology in Education. ISTE Standards for Coaches. https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Paulus, M, Jr., Baker, B, Langford, M. (2019). A Framework for digital wisdom in higher education. Christian Scholar’s Review, 49(1): 41-61.

Categories
ISTE Standard 1: Change Agent ISTE Standard 2: Connected Learner ISTE Standard 3: Collaborator ISTE Standard 4: Learning Designer ISTE Standard 5: Professional Learning Facilitator ISTE Standard 6: Data-Driven Decision-Maker ISTE Standard 7: Digital Citizen Advocate ISTE Standards for Coaching

An exploration of student integrity in the digital age

Professionalism is a value that is important to me, and one that I work diligently to impart onto my students in both my actions and in my instruction. As the Nutrition and Dietetics Internship Director at Seattle Pacific University, I oversee supervised learning experiences for a cohort of 10 post-baccalaureate interns placed in a variety of clinical nutrition, community nutrition, and food service management sites across Western Washington. An essential component of pre-requisite knowledge prior to beginning supervised practice is an understanding the Code of Ethics (COE) for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession. There are several principles and standards in our profession’s COE that address my overarching question, which is as follows:

How is integrity demonstrated in students’ digital profiles and communications on social media?

This question aligns with ISTE Standards for Coaches #7d: “Empower educators, leaders and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect” (International Society for Technology in Education).  

The following principles and standards from the Code of Ethics for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession are relevant to the discussion of integrity in students’ online presence (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics):

  • Principle #2 in the COE addresses “integrity in personal and organizational behaviors and practices,” and includes:
    • Standard D: “Respect intellectual property rights, including citation and recognition of the ideas and work of others, regardless of the medium (e.g. written, oral, electronic)  
    •  Standard H: “Respect patients/clients autonomy. Safeguard patient/client confidentiality according to current regulations and laws.”
    • Standard E: “Provide accurate and truthful information in all communications.”
  •  Principle #3 in the COE addresses “professionalism,” and includes:
    •  Standard C: “Demonstrate respect, constructive dialogue, civility and professionalism in all communications, including social media.”

In my quest to understand how dietetics students demonstrate integrity online, it is important to view potential ethical issues within the framework of our profession’s COE.  As outlined above, there are a variety of ethical considerations concerning integrity and professionalism. Following are some examples of how these ethical principles and standards translate into demonstrating integrity online in a student’s online presence:

  • Referencing information correctly in blogs, electronic newsletters, infographics, Tweets, and public service announcements when students are providing nutrition education to the public;
  • Verifying that all information communicated online to the public is accurate and truthful, including in blogs, electronic newsletters, infographics, Tweets, and public service announcements;
  •   Ensuring that students do not discuss confidential information (Peregrin, 2018) or include photos of their patients or clients in their social media posts or blogs;
  • Maintaining confidentiality of supervised practice environments by refraining from posting pictures from clinics and hospitals that may be considered private or containing sensitive information;
  • Refraining from posting or discussing proprietary, internal organizational information in social media posts (Peregrin, 2018);  
  • Keeping online conversations respectful and civil even when there is disagreement or differing perspectives, including both posts and responses to posts.  

Peregrin (2018) asserts that there is no guarantee that private social media posts are actually private, and anything a student posts or says online has the potential to be discovered by an unintended audience, such as a prospective educational program or potential employer. He points out that the content of students’ posts have the potential to affect them adversely in the future, so it is critical that students understand potential consequences for what they choose to communicate on social media.

In the K-12 curriculum “Commonsense Education,” a lesson plan developed on the topic of digital citizenship explains that each of us has a digital footprint, which is our unique public presence in online activities. The curriculum reinforces that one’s digital footprint is an aspect to our identity that can either work for or against us in future opportunities depending on what we post and how we handle ourselves online. This concept of the digital footprint seconds what Peregrin reveals about the impact of an online presence affecting educational and employment decision-making (Commonsense Education).   

In summary, there are many ways in which dietetic students can demonstrate integrity in their digital profiles and communications on social media. A periodic review of the Code of Ethics for Nutrition and Dietetics Profession is essential to ensure that students avoid any potential ethical issues which may stem from what they may post and publish in their online forums.    

References

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Code of Ethics for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession. https://www.eatrightpro.org/practice/code-of-ethics/what-is-the-code-of-ethics

Commonsense Education. Who’s looking at your digital footprint? https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-citizenship/lesson/whos-looking-at-your-digital-footprint

International Society for Technology in Education. ISTE Standards for Coaches. https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Peregrin, T. Promoting student integrity. Ethical issues in the digital age. (2018). Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 118(8), 1498-1500.