Digital Education Leadership Mission Statement

Teaching how to use technology well is important to me. I believe all students, educators, and professionals have the right to a safe, productive, collaborative, and equitable technology experience regardless of whichever mode of technology they choose to use. Technology offers a multitude of opportunities, however not all opportunities prove beneficial nor promote digital well-being in the long run. The digital world is ever-changing, which is why I will promote good digital practices on how to use technology well to ensure the continual positive experiences and interactions online.

My position as a digital education leader offers distinct perspectives as I’ve transitioned from an industry professional as a dietitian focusing on nutrition education, to higher education as a professor of dietetics.  As a dietitian, I follow a code of ethics that ensures safe, professional, and ethical practice. A good dietitian provides quality care that is evidence-based, well-communicated, is confidential, and is someone who understands their professional boundaries well.  As a dietetic professor, this role is magnified as I am charged not only to model this code of ethics but also to teach and assess student’s outcomes based on these ethics.  As technology is further reaching into the professional world, and health information online is becoming commonplace, it is imperative to include technology into the ethics discussion.  Therefore, it is my mission as a dietitian, dietetic educator, and digital education leader to prepare students, faculty, and others in the profession in mastering digital citizenship by providing guidance and modeling safe, ethical, equitable use of technology while promoting cultural awareness through education technology.

Guiding Principles

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) provides a framework for digital education leadership, outlining a set of guidelines ideal for the development and implementation of digital citizenship.  According to ISTE, the role of digital leaders is to “…inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world,” (ISTE, 2017).  Digital citizenship can be accomplished in three major ways: 1) implementing strategies and equipping technology best practices for equitable use, 2) promoting healthy, legal, ethical, and safe use of technology, and 3) using communication and collaboration tools to interact with the community at large, facilitating cultural diversity and global awareness, (ISTE, 2016). To the best of my ability, it is my intention to mirror these practices as they are applied to the dietetics world. I’ve designed the following three guiding principles using the digital citizenship guidelines as performance indicators of my mission.

Guiding Principle # 1: Use technology best practices to provide open-source educational tools that allows for broader nutrition information access and outreach.  This guiding principle is compliant with the ISTE 5a principle regarding equitable access to digital tools and resources.  Access to technology is crucial to educational development and in reaching audiences that wouldn’t normally have access to such educational resources (Jones & Bridges, 2016).  Open-source materials such as courseware, textbooks, and other educational materials is a way to increase access to good-quality nutrition instruction and information for students regardless of type of device used or external access to an educational institution.  Use of open-source resources benefits all as it helps lessen health misinformation and increases awareness of the dietetic profession as a source of credible information.

As an example, in the dietetic world, social media has been used as a model to bridge the equity divide in nutrition education.  Projects such as Oregon State University’s Food Hero uses three major social media platforms to not only share healthy recipes and public health resources but also provides a means to interact with users.  According to the authors Tobey and Manore, this interaction is crucial to the success of their program as it helps increase engagement and maintains positive outcomes of the program, (Tobey & Manore, 2014).  Gathering from their program’s success, Tobey & Manore outline some best practices that can help standardize nutrition education technology tool implementation. Their best practices are summarized in Table 1.1 below. Tobey and Manore’s best practices offer a strategic plan to increase access to nutrition education while maintaining the values and goals of their mission. While they chose to use social media, their best practices can be modified and applied to other open-source materials. By creating, sharing, and using open-source materials using technology best practices, I can help do my part in maximizing equitable access to good-quality nutrition information for all.

Table 1.1

Toby & Manore’s Nutrition Education and Social Media Use Best Practices

Conduct a needs assessment Review of relevant research, and conduct focus groups with target audience to establish needs and vision of social media project.

 

Select appropriate social media outlet Evaluate social media platforms that will effectively reach target audience, allow for desired information dissemination and contains desired functionality.
Create a posting plan Frequent posting is important to maintain relationship with followers. Posts should be “timely, pleasant, and meaningful.” Content should be engaging.
Integrate a social media team Create a team that follows the program’s goals and vision to contribute content and interact with each other through the platform.
Regularly track your analytics Tracking analytics gathers data that helps stakeholders understand follower demographics, gain insights on how to best relate with the demographic, and to keep the program relevant.

Guiding Principle #2: Apply and promote the dietetics code of ethics in teaching and modeling safe, healthy, legal, ethical uses of digital information.  This guiding principle is in compliance with ISTE 5b regarding ethical issues and digital citizenship.  As mentioned earlier, dietitians must uphold the code of ethics for the profession. Integration of technology into healthcare has called for practice guidelines regarding behavior and practice online. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the professional organization representing registered dietitians, have issued ethical guidelines in an effort to help dietitians maintain a positive digital presence without compromising the credibility of the profession.  These guidelines were created to avoid issues of online privacy violation, unprofessional conduct, and loss of credibility.

Currently, AND promotes digital citizenship by suggesting that dietitians maintain an offline and online balance.  Some of the recommendations include considerations for the time of day that the practitioner is choosing to post on social media and to consider the owner of the social media post particularly when posting on behalf of an organization, (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2013).

Legally-speaking, dietitians must uphold patient confidentiality under the HIPAA law.  This means that dietitians may not share any identifiable information without patient’s consent nor may they use self-published information.  Any confidential information found on an e-chart and accessed by a mobile browser must be configured for encryption prior to access via mobile phone to avoid privacy breech, (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2013).  Additionally, digital literacy and communication is essential.  Online presence must be positively maintained as any post a dietitian makes can be legally reprimanded for threat of defamation or endorsement, (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2012).

The blurring lines between professional and personal entities on social media risks ethical breach as any unprofessionalism may reflect poorly on entire profession. The current dietetic code of ethics ensures e-professionalism.  The applicable principles are outlined and summarized in Table 2.1 below. AND’s guidelines for digital citizenship mainly endorses good use of social media and safe access to confidential information, however this code can imply good technology use in other modes digital information as well. By using the current code of ethics as a guide, teaching and modeling digital citizenship to dietetic students adds value to their future profession regardless of the mode in which they will one day practice and communicate professionally.

Table 2.1

Dietetic Code of Ethics: Application for Digital Ethics

❏     Principle 2: high standards of professional practice

❏     Principle 6: not participating in false or misleading practices or communications

❏     Principle 10: practitioner protects all confidential information and/or provides full disclosure about any limitations in protecting confidential information.

❏     Principle 14: professional accountability in increasing professional knowledge and skills to apply them to practice.

❏     Principle 15: Aware of potential conflict of interest.

Guiding Principle #3: Enhance student involvement and collaboration in nutrition education through education technology.  This guiding principle is in compliance with ISTE 5c.  Using technology well also means providing opportunities for technology engagement and collaboration with others.  Doing so helps to engage diversity, enriching students’ experience overall.  In his paper on digital diversity, Robbin Chapman states that when students are allowed to become curators of content by creating artifacts using modes such as blogs, journals, and social media platforms, they are exposed to various perspectives, (Chapman, 2016).  For the nutrition educator, AND recommends understanding the target audience and socializing content in order to allow students and patients to better engage the content, (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016).  In order to fully capture the idea of digital diversity through Chapman’s and AND’s definitions, simply allowing students to engage with the content is not enough.  Students need to contribute to the content by basis of investigating and presenting their own information, while respecting ownership of the sources they access. There are strict guidelines for dietetics curriculum, therefore allowing students to become curators of content while maintaining curriculum standards can be accomplished as long as the information students access and share through technology come from evidence-based studies, practices, and content, (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2013). By allowing students the freedom to curate their own solutions while given guidance on using and locating evidence-based information, they will gain a broader perspective of the digital diversity and learn how to collaborate respectfully online.

References

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2012). Legal risks of social media: What dietetics practitioners   needs to know. JAND, 112,: 1718- 1723.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2013). The impact of social media on business and ethical practices in dietetics. JAND. 113: 1539-1543.

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

ISTE. (2011). Iste coaching standards. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-C_PDF.pdf.

ISTE. (2017, December). ISTE standards for educators. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators.

Marshall Jones and Rebecca Bridges, “Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents, Current Issues, and Future Trends,” in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, 327-47

Robbin Chapman “Diversity and Inclusion in the Learning Enterprise: Implications for Learning Technologies,” in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, ed. Nicholas John Rushby and Daniel W. Surry (Malden, Mass.: Wiley Blackwell, 2016), 287-300.

Tobey, L. N., & Manore, M. M. (2014). Social media and nutrition education: The food hero experience. J. Nutr Ed Behav. 46: 128-133.