|Reviewers Comments: || If you are looking for a training tool for nutrition education paraprofessionals, the fourteen educational and engaging lessons on an interactive CD-Rom, Nutrition Mentor™ may be a valuable resource.
The first twelve lessons cover key topics related to the main principles of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid, including the food groups, fats, sugars, eating away from home, children and older adults, and label reading. These lessons each include an interactive mastery test at the end to assess the learner’s knowledge. Learners can go back to the lesson and review items they answered incorrectly. Because of the architecture of the program design, when revisiting previously viewed sections of a lesson, users must review that page and all following pages until the end of the module before returning to the test, which may be cumbersome for many users wanting a quick follow-up. Lessons thoroughly review each topic using puzzles and games and connect nutrition with disease in appropriate situations. Some of the lessons have a helpful handout or short review of a subject, which can be printed and used in a classroom or for the learner’s own knowledge. While the nutrition information in the training is generally accurate and compatible with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, there is one slide in the food safety lesson (slide 14 of 14) that mistakenly states the correct temperature to cook egg dishes, pork and ground beef (the correct temperature should be 160°). The temperature is listed correctly on an earlier slide. Other inaccuracies include crediting only the USDA with the development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (lesson 1, slide 8), when they are the result of a joint effort between the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The last two lessons are resource lessons designed to help the learner apply the material and teach it to clients. These lessons are shorter than the first twelve and do not contain a mastery test. The topics they cover are cultural competence, specifically for the Latino and Vietnamese populations only, and adult learning strategies, so learners are better prepared to teach in a way clients can relate to and truly digest the information. These lessons include role playing activities that ask the learner what they would recommend in certain situations and include culturally appropriate pictures of individuals. Tips are also included for nutrition educators to use before, during and after teaching classes.
Because this training is available on an interactive CD-Rom, it is able to take advantage of high quality graphics, videos and entertaining animation, and interactive activities to help keep the learner actively engaged in the learning process at all times. This level of interaction helps make the training more appealing to the learner, and in turn makes it more effective. The downside of using this type of technology is there are some technical issues, including computer glitches, typos and broken links to outside sources. The bulk of the learning concepts are communicated through the audio vocal track, for which there is no closed captioning. The module is not compliant with section 508, which makes it’s accessibility to users with impaired vision or hearing significantly reduced. It should also be noted that most lessons contain images of brand named foods, business (restaurants) and trademarked logos.
Since the training lessons are partially self-paced, the time it takes to complete them will according to the learner. Lessons can be completed in one sitting or over time, and do not have to be completed in order. Once a lesson is started it can not be paused, forwarded nor rewound. There is no back button that allows users to review previous slides, therefore the only review option is to re-start the entire section.
To use Nutrition Mentor™, you need a PC with Windows 2000 or newer, 128 MB RAM, Adobe Flash player, and working speakers or a device to listen to audio. Nutrition Mentor™ is also available for Mac computers on request. The program’s introduction features an image of a desktop computer that is clearly an Apple, which could be confusing to some users.