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ISTE Standard 7: Digital Citizen Advocate

A Digital Ethics Audit of Nutrition and Dietetics Programs at Seattle Pacific University

The Seattle Pacific University (SPU) Family & Consumer Sciences Department houses two Nutrition and Dietetics programs with secondary accreditation oversight. The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), regulates undergraduate and post-baccalaureate programs in dietetics education. One of my roles at SPU is directing our post-baccalaureate Nutrition and Dietetics Internship (DI) program. Catalina Vlad-Ortiz directs our undergraduate Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). Since we are both program administrators and many SPU DPD students will become SPU dietetic interns, I decided to interview Vlad-Ortiz for this project. I wanted to better understand her vision for digital education in our undergraduate program so that we can collaborate moving forward on the integration of digital education as components of program administration. A secondary reason I chose to interview Vlad-Ortiz is that she is a graduate of the SPU DEL program, and I knew that she had been integrating several ideas she learned from DEL into her undergraduate courses. I wanted to better understand what she has implemented, her rationale for doing so, and any outcomes or feedback that she has collected.

I structured my interview questions around the following four professional values: integrity, professional competence, social responsibility, and, self-awareness. Since we are directing academic programs that are training students to become professionals, I focused my digital ethics audit on four professional values that align with digital education and reflect the ISTE Standards for Coaches. Additionally, three of the four professional values I focused on are represented in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Code of Ethics for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession.  Following is a synthesis of my findings from my digital ethics interview with Vlad-Ortiz.

The first section of my interview focused on digital integrity, which aligns with ISTE Standards for Coaches 7c and 7d: “Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions; and 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).

 Digital integrity focus areas in our curriculum include the following:

  • Plagiarism & copyright infringement
    • Several courses focus on instructing students to utilize online references appropriately.
    • Our FCS Librarian is a great asset to our program, offering guest presentations, creating modules, answering questions, etc.
  • Group work, equity, and accountability
    • With the move to remote learning, it’s important to ensure that students are contributing equally and are held accountable for equal contributions to online group projects.
  • Digital footprint
    • Students are being taught to be aware that the line between personal and professional social media contributions can be blurred, and to understand that what they post can affect future opportunities, including employment.  
  • Privacy
    • Students are learning about privacy/confidentiality regarding the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and personal health information (PHI). This knowledge is needed in the professional practice areas of clinical nutrition and nutrition counseling.   

Principle #2 in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ COE addresses “integrity in personal and organizational behaviors and practices,” and includes:

  • Standard 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) 
  • Standard 2e: Provide accurate and truthful information in all communications.
  •  Standard 2h: Respect patients/clients autonomy. Safeguard patient/client confidentiality according to current regulations and laws (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

The second section of my interview focused on digital literacy as a component of professional competence. Digital literacy is reflected in ISTE Standards for Coaches 7c, which is stated above.

Digital literacy/professional competence focus areas in our curriculum include the following:

  • Access, utilization, and referencing of online sources
    • In several courses, students are learning to locate and correctly incorporating evidence-based research articles into assignments.
  • Content credibility
    • Our programs are teaching students which online source are considered credible, such as peer-reviewed journal articles, professional practice papers, guidelines from health associations, etc. 
  • Digital safety and security
    • Beyond teaching privacy/confidentiality requirements when using electronic medical records, we would like to learn about additional opportunities to teach digital safety and security in our curriculum.  

The following standards in the Academy’s Code of Ethics reflect competence in digital literacy:

  • Standard 1a. Practice using an evidence-based approach within areas of competence, continuously develop and enhance expertise, and recognize limitations
  • Standard 1c. Assess the validity and applicability of scientific evidence without personal bias.
  • Standard 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).
  • Standard 2e. Provide accurate and truthful information in all communications (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

The third section of my interview focused on the professional value of social responsibility, which is aligned with ISTE Standards for Coaches 7a: “Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities (International Society for Technology in Education).

Social responsibility focus areas in our curriculum include the following:

  • We encourage our students to hold leadership positions in professional associations, which includes social media work often linked to community service.  
  • Our students are made aware that they can utilize digital media to create awareness of hunger, food insecurity, and food and public policies.
  • Several courses allow students to choose how they express their knowledge and skills by selecting from a variety of formats, including blogs, infographics, and videos. These deliverables can be used to educate the public on food and nutrition topics.  

The following standards in the Academy’s Code of Ethics reflect social responsibility:

  • Principle #4 in the COE pertains to “Social responsibility for local, regional, national, global nutrition and well-being”
    • a. Collaborate with others to reduce health disparities and protect human rights.
    • e. Engage in service that benefits the community and to enhance the public’s trust in the profession. 
    • f. Seek leadership opportunities in professional, community, and service organizations to enhance health and nutritional status while protecting the public (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

The fourth section of my interview focused on the professional value of self-awareness/self-care, which is aligned with ISTE Standards for Coaches 7b: “Partner with educators, leaders, students, and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a health balance in their use of technology” (International Society for Technology in Education).

Self-awareness/self-care areas of focus in our curriculum include the following:

  • Teaching digital etiquette for healthy online communications
  • Teaching a healthy balance of online/offline activities in the curriculum, which includes:
    • Organization and structure
    • Setting limits for screen time
    • Time management
    • Addressing one task at a time
    • Prioritizing and scheduling offline activities

Conclusion and next steps:

It appears that we are moving in the right direction with guidance from the SPU DEL program and our DPD Advisory Board. We think it would be valuable to audit our DPD curriculum in more depth to see where integration of ISTE Standards can be enhanced while still aligning with secondary accreditation requirements. Additionally, we think that moving in the direction of project- and/or discussion-based course structures would allow students more opportunities to increase knowledge and skills in digital technology.  

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

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

A special thanks to my colleague, Catalina Vlad Ortiz, MS, MEd, RD, for her enthusiasm and time in being interviewed for this assignment.

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.