How To Get A Job As A Nutrition Online Educator
Teaching classes for a college, university, or other educational institution includes many skills besides just knowing the subject. The job of a professor is complex and includes the skills of speaking, writing, dealing with people, and more. When you bring the topic of online education into the equation, the job becomes even more multifaceted. NutritionJobs interviewed two educators who specialize in online teaching. They provided us with insider tips on the benefits and challenges of online teaching and how to get a job as a nutrition online educator. Here is their story. – Sarah
Jamie Erskine, PhD, RDN, Director of the School of Human Sciences and a Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), states she found her job as an online educator after teaching in person for several years. She gained experience and practice as an educator both in and outside of the classroom first which was valuable for online teaching. Erskine helped to develop the accredited distance-based Didactic Program in Dietetics at UNC.
Katie Ferraro, MPH, RDN, CDE, consultant dietitian at Ingrain Health, Inc. and assistant clinical professor at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), originally started teaching an Intro to Nutrition course at UC Berkley. This course later moved to an online format with a web-casted lecture. After her first experience, she transferred to UCSF to their online graduate nursing program which includes nutrition courses for advanced practice nurses.
Benefits to teaching online
Erskine notes that teaching online can accommodate non-traditional schedules. In addition, students who live in rural areas or geographic locations where no program is located can attend the courses. Erskine adds that flexibility in scheduling and accessibility to all students are two benefits to teaching online courses. Ferraro instructs that nutrition is a topic that translates very well online and has a huge benefit of being scalable. One of her massive open online courses (MOOCs) has been taken by over 100,000 students! Online education can reach so many people and broaden one’s recognition.
Challenges to teaching online
Challenges do arise when teaching online courses. Ferraro explains when talking about, working with, instructing on, or just mentioning food, it’s sometimes limiting to not have the actual food on hand in an online setting as you would in a classroom-based environment. However, you can make your curriculum work. “Online teaching does require innovation in education and an entirely different mindset than the classroom approach. It can be done, even for challenging topics such as Cultural Foods and Food Labs, but it requires an educator who is well-versed in online pedagogy,” describes Ferraro. Erskine comments, “developing and administering an online course generally takes much more time than a face-to-face course. Organization and clear communication are key components.”
How to get an online teaching job
“Online teaching is not duplicating a face-to-face experience. Creativity in communication, pedagogy, and student engagement are key. Before I taught my first online course, I attended a series of workshops presented by an instructional designer. With new technology and methods, learning occurs in many ways outside of listening to lectures. Experiential learning can occur both inside and outside of the classroom as can collaboration and group work,” informs Erskine. Gain experience teaching in person before applying to an online teaching job. Ferraro also recommends to “take an online course before you ever try to teach one. You’ll see firsthand the frustrations that students go through and you’ll design your class differently after having had that experience.”
Online teaching can be very beneficial and provide people worldwide with learning opportunities. Time to get educated, gain experience, and apply for that online teaching position.