To examine a variety of virtual teaching modalities implemented by Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators and to establish promising practices.
Use of Theory or Research
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the abrupt transition from in-person to virtual delivery of SNAP-Ed classes, yet efficacy of online interventions is not well established in the literature. Evaluation of virtual interventions adopted during the pandemic is needed to identify best practices.
Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators, administrators, and partners.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to present barriers to in-person teaching in FFY 2021, virtual teaching continued to be of high interest to Maine SNAP-Ed. The Maine SNAP-Ed implementing agency, the University of New England (UNE), supported Nutrition Educators in adapting their lessons for a virtual environment. Nutrition Educators coordinated with community partners to schedule virtual lessons and used a variety of approaches and technologies to adapt existing curricula and materials.
Altarum, the external evaluator for Maine SNAP-Ed, conducted a process evaluation to understand the effectiveness of virtually teaching SNAP-Ed classes, capture how SNAP-Ed participants and partners have responded to virtual teaching, and identify promising practices and lessons learned from virtual teaching. Evaluation activities included key informant interviews with Nutrition Educators (n = 19) and SNAP-Ed partners and teachers (n = 7) involved with the virtual classes.
The transition from in-person to virtual SNAP-Ed classes required significant adaptability and creativity among Nutrition Educators. The evaluation identified several benefits and drawbacks to delivering virtual classes, which may impact effectiveness with different audiences.
Implications of this evaluation suggest that SNAP-Ed agencies can successfully deliver nutrition education through a hybrid approach that considers which lesson components are best delivered virtually or in-person as well as the needs of the partner organizations and participants.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education