Distance Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Education over the last 30 Years: A Narrative Review

Published:November 15, 2022DOI:
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      The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the use of distance education, which sparked a technological transformation that was long overdue in higher education. The purpose of this narrative review is two-fold: 1) to summarize the state of knowledge regarding distance education in nutrition and dietetics education over the last 30 years to inform recommendations for future education/research and implications for practice and 2) to determine the impact that distance education has had on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of both nutrition and dietetic educators and their students. A narrative review of 822 publications yielded 25 that met the search criteria. In the scope of thirty years, the literature shows that attitudes and perceptions of distance education have changed as barriers to online access have diminished and the availability of online nutrition and dietetics courses and ACEND accredited distance education programs has expanded. However, while the limited results are promising, the paucity of large-sample research about the use of distance education in nutrition and dietetics education restricts educators’ knowledge of and ability to evaluate the learning outcomes of distance programs and courses. Moreover, differences in how accreditors, government agencies, and institutions define “distance education” could have significant impact on funding, financial aid benefits for students and research. Recommendations for future research and implications for practice are provided given the relevance and importance of distance education to nutrition and dietetics education.