A New Experience for Distant Learners at NTI
At NTI we’ve seen a seismic shift in interest in our online programs. Today, more than ¾ of our students take at least one course online. They hail from all over the country—and all over the world!
When this trend became evident, our leadership and educational team wondered: “What can we do to make the experience of learning from afar more alive? How can we simulate the vibrancy of a face to face classroom? How can we create sharing of resources, knowledge and inspiration? In short, how can we build a real learning community at a distance?”
These questions took us on a long journey, through research about path breaking programs like Khan University, Southern New Hampshire University, Coursera, TED talks, and even the Harvard Business School. It took us into the heart of software development with industry leaders throughout North America. And this fall, we are launching the fruit of all these labors: NTI 2.0.
NTI features the same characteristics that have distinguished the school since its founding: an emphasis on the science behind the nutrition, taught by extraordinary educators who are themselves busy clinicians, and a grounding philosophy of biochemical diversity. No two people will thrive on exactly the same diet. No cookie cutter solutions here at NTI.
And now these qualities are powered by a streamlined curriculum. Listening to the feedback of hundreds of students on surveys, we pruned reading lists for every course, making sure that what was left provided the essential foundation with the latest contemporary updates. Our process was extensive. Each course boasts a curriculum developer—Doctors of Naturopathy like Dr. Karrina Wallace; MNT’s like Dianne Koehler; and Doctors of Chiropractic like Dr. Becky Spacke.
That person’s work is that put through a rigorous screening by a second set of eyes.
Then, the streamlined curriculum is brought to life through cutting edge technology. This consists of professionally produced TED talk-like videos, featuring expert lecturers in high resolution video. Now, NTI students can watch each class, in a dynamic format on their smartphone or computer. They can pause, rewind, and benefit from crystal-clear explanations that are brought to life by the personalities and illustrative examples of our teaching faculty.
Buoying these talks are powerpoint slide decks that essentially comprise NTI’s own textbook for each class offering. Students have noticed the change. Said Corey Nyholm an MNT graduate, “The old program was great. I learned a ton. But the new format is exceptional. It leads to easier engagement and better retention.”
Even faculty members agree. “I just Love these videos,” said Dr. Lauren Koedyk, a Denver-based chiropractor who teaches Biochemical Foundations of Nutrition in the classroom. “The material is presented with such clarity.”
In addition to these videos, students are connected to each other through 3 hour-long teleconferences for each class and a high tech knowledge sharing platform called Bibliohive. Bibliohive makes it simple for students and faculty to save the latest trending popular or research articles or videos from the web and organize them in a Pinterest-like digital library. Most impressive, however, are the collaborative features, which allow each student at NTI to benefit from the research provided by every student and faculty at the school. Powered by the same kind of algorithms that allow Amazon to suggest what other books you might like to buy once you have purchased one, the system detects users’ nutrition interests and funnels relevant material directly to them.
The system takes over 350 students and faculty joined by their commitment to healing through food and links them together on a digital hub.
Currently, one entire course is available in the new format: Causes and Prevention of Cancer, a 4-part series prepared by Jess Kelley, MNT, author of the book, The Metabolic Approach to Cancer: Integrating Deep Nutrition, the Ketogenic Diet, and Nontoxic Bio-Individualized Therapies, and taught by Dr. Jacqueline Thomas, ND. Anatomy & Physiology for the Nutritionist and Biochemical Foundations of Nutrition in the CNTP program are live, and next in line for production are Nutrients: the Building Blocks and Nutrition Therapy in Practice. “I am just thrilled with the quality of the videos,” said Director of Operations, Christine Giuliani, who doubles as a student. “It’s really transforming the learning experience.”
Jen Nolan, MS., who is currently taking a course in the Oncology Nutrition Program agrees. “I couldn’t be more impressed. The material is fascinating, and the video lectures, tele-conferences and Bibliohive readings have made me feel part of a group of students rather than out here on my own. I'd recommend this for anyone.”