March 11, 2011

Online Nutrition Courses Grow In Popularity

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- In view of the fact that nutrition courses meet general education science requirements and professional education needs in dietetics, medical, nursing, and other allied health curricula, nutrition is among the countless postsecondary subjects generally taught online.

Findings concerning online nutrition education courses revealed four quasi-experimental studies indicating no differences in nutrition knowledge or achievement between online and face-to-face learners.

"Students can gain knowledge in online as well as in face-to-face nutrition courses, but satisfaction is mixed," which Dr. Nancy Cohen, professor at the University of Massachusetts, was quoted as saying. 

"Online learning has advantages such as overcoming time and distance barriers, capacity to share resources among colleges and universities to wide audiences, and the ability to use innovative multimedia and virtual instructional methods.  However, if online courses are designed in such a way that traditional face to face methods like textbook readings, lectures, and examinations are published on the Internet without considering social isolation, de-individualized instruction, and using technology for the sake of technology, effective learning may not occur."

Alas, there is still biased research about the efficacy of nutrition education online courses.  With the increase in demand for online courses, this is an area of research that must be investigated to guarantee that we successfully educate college students, particularly since this is a population that often demonstrates poor diet habits.  A college credit course allows an exceptional opportunity to reach this population.

"More up-to-date investigations on effective practices are warranted, using theories to identify factors that enhance student outcomes, addressing emerging technologies, and documenting online nutrition education courses marketing, management, and delivery," which Dr. Elena Carbone and Dr. Patricia Beffa-Negrini, registered dietitians and professors at the University of Massachusetts, were quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Journal of Nutritional Education and Behavior, 8 March 2011