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.
- 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.
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.