Picture of Angela Li, Immersify Education's Ambassador
Written by: Angela Li,
Dental Student at the University of Leeds.

Harnessing the power of digital technology has the potential to revolutionise the dental learning experience. Dentistry is a constantly evolving and practical-based field, so why do many dental undergraduates still rely on traditional lecture-based and out-dated textbook learning? Today, technology is playing an increasingly significant role in our lives, and it will only be a matter of time before the learning experience of dental students also transitions to technology-based. Particularly in the area of augmented reality (AR), there is huge potential to develop dental learning resources to benefit tomorrow’s dentists.

Immersify Education utilises technology to achieve exactly this principle: the idea behind their resources is to ‘bridge the gap between theoretical and practical learning’, offering students a bespoke learning experience featuring expert content curated by dentists, AR, gamification and personalised learning. (1) The information on the Immersify Dental App is ‘standardised with university curriculums’, distinguishing it from other sources of dental information and (2)  based on pilot studies (1) involving eight different universities:

100% of respondents would recommend the application to a Dentistry student, 82% would be influenced to attend a university by the technology demonstrated at an open day, and 2/3 students would prefer access to the application over being given a free textbook.


This offers a very promising insight into the demand by dental students for this type of digital technology.

Currently, at dental school, tooth morphology is traditionally taught through lectures, wax tooth carving and observation of preserved teeth. (3) Although lectures have their benefits, they often lack interactivity and present a one-sided learning experience for students. (4) During wax tooth carving, more focus is placed on carving the crowns, with less of a focus on the root morphology, as it has been suggested that carving roots does not contribute to the overall understanding of dental anatomy. (5) However, learning the roots is equally important, since these are the main focus for endodontics and complex extractions. (6) The final common option of learning tooth morphology is via observation of preserved teeth, which seemingly overcomes the issues described previously. However, there is often difficulty in obtaining suitable ‘well-preserved human teeth’ for observation, meaning that dental students may end up learning via non-anatomically correct models. (7) Moreover, this 3D observation can only take place within the dental school environment so students may have limited time to explore the teeth.

In contrast, the Immersify Dental app allows dental students to learn through their cutting-edge augmented reality (AR) technology. Students are now able to explore 3D tooth morphology in their own time, at their own pace and revisit this learning as often as they would like. Each entire tooth (crown and root) can be explored in the app whilst simultaneously described by a professional dental voice-over. (2) The AR technology also means that the teeth can be projected in a real-world environment, on any surface. There’s something special about seeing a giant 3D molar floating in your home!

Immersify Education includes an element of competitive gamification, which creates an ‘intrinsically motivating’  learning experience for dental students. (8) The Immersify Dental app offers students the chance to compete internationally with other users and ranks them on leaderboards. (9) This principle of engagement via gamification is also utilised in many other successful educational apps and offers a fun, contemporary, and engaging way of learning. (10) Research published in the BMC Medical Education journal (11) found that dental students’ use of gamification apps to learn histology increased their motivation and interest. Immersify Dental offers games on a variety of topics such as tooth identification and dental anatomy, with many others on dental charting and dexterity target practice being released soon (12).

Immersify Education offers students an interactive learning experience that is crucially individually tailored to them. (13) Research from the British Dental Journal (14) suggests that personalised learning focused on the student’s learning rather than the content and method of delivery allows students to retain more information. It is proposed that ‘pedagogically driven e-learning’ is the key to good quality dental training. (15) The algorithm used by Immersify Education tackles problem areas by providing tailored feedback for students. (9) For instance, during their teeth identification quiz, answers that are incorrect will be noted and fully explained to students at the end, featuring top tips on how to correctly identify the teeth next time. (12) Moreover, the use of quizzes has been shown to enable a deeper level of information processing when contrasted with other learning methods. (16) It is especially important in dentistry to have a comprehensive and critical understanding of topics in order to make well-considered clinical decisions (17).

Immersify Education’s mobile platform is much easier to update compared to traditional published material such as textbooks, allowing the rapid inclusivity of new research and advancements in learning. This gives students the confidence that they are learning the most up-to-date dental material.

Another advantage of the Immersify Dental app is that it will offer a multi-lingual learning resource, suited for the learning of international dental students. (18) Research from the Journal of Dental Education (19) suggests that comprehension of the English Language can be ‘the most significant barrier’ perceived by international dental students to hold them back from academic success. Translated pilots of the app have been developed in French and German, with other languages being incorporated in the near future (1).

Immersify Dental offers students the perfect blend of AR, gamification, personalised learning, audio voiceover and interactivity to suit their learning needs. In the future, digital technology will play an increasingly important role in dental education as the delivery of teaching races to keep up with the modern-day student. The futuristic and stimulating learning experience designed by Immersify Education looks to disrupt the traditional didactic teaching method. By providing a quality learning experience that uses the latest technology, Immersify is a trailblazer for the future of dental learning and is exactly what this generation of dental students is searching for.


References:

  1. Boardman M. R.E: Student Essay Immersify Education Overview ed2020.
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  6. Migliau G, Pepla E, Besharat LK, Gallottini L. Resolution of endodontic issues linked to complex anatomy. Ann Stomatol (Roma). 2014;5(1):34-40.
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  9. Immersify_Ed. Check our latest video to see some of the great features the #ImmersifyDentalApp has to offer! Get your devices ready for tomorrow. . In: @Immersify_Ed, editor.: Instagram; 2020.
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  18. Bissett J. Tech-savvy dental nurse designs 3D dentistry tool 2018 [Available from: https://www.dental-nursing.co.uk/news/tech-savvy-dental-nurse-designs-3d-dentistry-tool.
  19. Jenkins SJ, Boyd LD. Perceived Barriers to Academic Success for International Students Studying Dental Hygiene in the U.S. Journal of Dental Education. 2019:JDE.019.163.