This semester, Dr. Margaret Slavin wanted to try something new in her online section of NUTR 295: Introduction to Nutrition. Following a three-day Online Learning Consortium (OLC) workshop, Dr. Slavin was intrigued by the idea of using an interactive syllabus to engage her students from day one.

“In an online course, you have no guarantee that students are reading the syllabus. There is no ‘syllabus day’ to ensure that they know what to expect from the course,” explains Dr. Slavin. “I like the idea of making the syllabus more accessible and reader friendly, something that students can quickly glance at later in the semester and find the information they need.”

Using a Mac program called Pages, she was able to find and edit a basic template, resulting in a truly colorful and inviting NUTR 295 syllabus. Dr. Slavin also provides a plain text version for any students who may prefer it or use a screen reader.

NUTR 295 Syllabus - Instructor Section

In her online section of NUTR 295, Dr. Margaret Slavin shares her own appreciation for food to inspire nutritional interest in her students. In the image above, taken at Staropolska Restaurant in Chicago, she enjoys a Polish dish of clear red borscht (beetroot) soup with mushroom uszka (dumplings). Image and syllabus courtesy of Dr. Slavin.

A non-lab natural science option for Mason Core, NUTR 295 is available online every semester, including summer. The format is especially beneficial for learning introductory content. “In some ways, nutrition is easier to talk about online,” suggests Dr. Slavin. “We can really pull the information apart, find examples more easily, and talk about them on the discussion boards.”

This course also offers a robust learning atmosphere full of diverse disciplines and perspectives. While dance majors or student athletes may consider the link between nutrition and professional goals, science majors are able to complement the conversation with feedback on how nutritional databases may be used to calculate dietary intakes.

This personal aspect of the course offers a unique opportunity for students to engage in online learning. Dr. Slavin shares, “In the online environment, it can be hard for students to find that self-motivation to stay on track. With nutrition, I find the content is something that they find personally relevant and keeps them on task.”

If you are interested in discovering examples of ‘nutritional misinformation’ or debating controversial nutrition topics (e.g. is organic food healthier or more nutritious than conventionally grown food?), then NUTR 295 is an excellent course to try online. Check our online courses page for upcoming sections!

NUTR 295 Syllabus - Grading Section

In her eight-page colorful syllabus, Dr. Slavin combines manageable chunks of information with an interactive layout, calling attention to essential course information like grading expectations. Image and syllabus courtesy of Dr. Slavin.