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Online training in nutritional therapy

In an EU-project, St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences developed innovative online courses for dietetics in Europe

The project team in Neubrandenburg, May 2018

With their nutritional therapies, dieticians make an important contribution to prevention and rehabilitation in the healthcare sector. However, approaches to therapies and diagnoses in dietetics differ from country to country across Europe. Under the leadership of St. Pölten UAS, the EU-project IMPECD (Improvement of Education and Competencies in Dietetics) has now developed uniform virtual case studies for nutritional therapy in Europe. By means of internationally available online courses ("MOOCs"), students of dietetics can now train on virtual patients. MOOCs are open online courses and lectures, which are increasingly offered by universities and usually serve a large number participants.

Quality enhancement in training

The bedrock for the innovative MOOC, is represented by the “Dietetic Care Process” developed in the project, which the team from St. Pölten UAS has designed together with researchers from the Universities of Antwerp (B), Fulda (D), Groningen (NL) and Neubrandenburg (D). This describes the individual steps of nutritional therapy and has not yet been standardised in the European Union. In total, the course includes nine different clinical case studies. It is now publicly available at www.impecd.eu. "The project aims at international exchange and quality enhancement in the training of dieticians. With the open online courses, students will in the future be able to train and discuss the same virtual case studies transnationally. This innovative knowledge-transfer method promotes quality in both study and profession as well as international exchange", explained project Head Alexandra Kolm from St. Pölten UAS.

Tests with students: "motivating and innovative"

Beforehand, as part of two “Intensive Study Programmes”, the project team evaluated the online courses with 50 students from Austria, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The MOOC has been tested with regard to usability, user experience, design and language. The results are very positive: the students rated the online course as motivating, exciting and innovative and appreciated this new form of knowledge transfer, especially the exchange with international colleagues.

In the future, the MOOC should be firmly anchored in the training of dieticians and expanded with new topics and cases. Through the European Federation of Associations of Dieticians (EFAD) and the European Association for Medical Education, the online course will in turn be presented to a broad audience - including in August and September at international conferences in Basel (Switzerland) and Rotterdam (Netherlands).

Project IMPECD (Improvement of Education and Competences in Dietetics)

The project is financed with European Union funds in the framework of the EU-programme “Erasmus + Strategic Partnership for Higher Education”. Responsibility for the content of this article is borne solely by the authors; the Commission is not liable for the further use of the information contained therein.