Written by: Christine Smethurst, Business Development Manager at Immersify Education

After the earthquake that was COVID, many industries have had to undertake radical technological transformations to be able to cope with the sudden shift towards studying from home. Now that the world is hopefully getting back to a sense of normality, let us not forget the technology that has helped support learners, colleges, universities and teachers alike to combat the isolation that COVID brought.

Going back what seems like a millennium ago whenBack to the Future 2’ was first aired in 1989, their predictions of flying cars, hoverboards and self-tying shoes by 2015 seems to still be a far way away. However, the areas that we have significantly achieved on is the creation of new technology to enhance and support learning; although, the adoption of this technology still remains lower than it should

This now brings me on perfectly to my question in this title, Dentistry Teaching Methods 2022: ‘Don’t change what isn’t broken’ – or is it?  

How is dental education currently delivered? 

Like most professions, dentistry is taught through the standard educational methods for both dental students and dental professionals. These methods being:   

🗣️ Lectures  

💻 Computer assisted learning 

🎥 Audio-visual sources; video 

👥 Group work; discussions, demonstrations, and role play

🧑‍⚕️ Practical experience; delivered on a phantom head 

With these teaching methods having been around for many years, tutors sometimes go off the assumption that they are ‘tried and proved’ and therefore there is no need to incorporate new teaching methods.  

However, adopting more of a student-centred approach of teaching is becoming increasingly more desirable for learners. What I mean by this, is that educators must provide multiple ways of learning whether that be visual, auditory and reading/writing. A way that educators can do this, is using digital learning technology. As younger generations are “digital natives”, a term coined by author Marc Prensky in 2001, providing them with tools that they are accustomed to will increase their motivation and ability in retaining knowledge.

Why use educational platforms in dentistry? 

An educational platform includes different types of learning tools, with the same goal in mind, to assist in the learning experience for individuals. Now, I am going to discuss three points to support the adoption of educational platforms in dentistry.  

The modern-day dental professional, wants different learning methods

As information is easily accessible with mobile phones, tablets and the internet, an individual’s attention span is shorter than that compared to previous generations. They also prefer learning through audio and visual platforms, as shown through the adoption of social media, which has a heavy focus on visual content.  

Visual and interactive platforms, like Immersify Dental, provide autonomy for learners in an engaging way. Learners can complete topics in the comfort of their own home or on the go, allowing them to engage and disengage with their learning in a style that is more suited to them.  

A constraint that has been around for years for dentistry, and health professions alike, is that students aren’t exposed to enough clinical time. For instance, sometimes dental students get exposed to one root canal treatment in their whole training. Whereas the Immersify Dental platform enables students to revisit and undergo the procedure, as many times as they want, in a simulated clinical setting using Augmented Reality (AR); which overcomes the barrier of not enough clinical practice.

63% of students agreed that digital learning technologies improved their studying efficiency and resulted in better preparation for classes 

Beneficial to learners and educators 

No one learns the same, and key early insight into everyone’s learning allows educators the ability to enhance their teaching methods. Platforms like Immersify Dental enable educators to spot patterns in topics that learners are struggling with, allowing them to allocate resources and time accordingly.  

Educational platforms also tend to be flexible in the adoption of different forms of learning methods. For example, Immersify Dental includes elements of gamification to increase engagement and motivation as individuals can learn in a playful way. Platforms that include gamification come with their added benefits for educational tutors too, as tutors tend to not have the time to create such resources, they can utilise platforms that use gamification (British Dental Journal, 2019); freeing up their time as well as providing a great student learning experience.  

26%of learners wish their learning management system (LMS) had gamified elements 

How can dental students and professionals learn from their mistakes, without knowing they exist?  

When attending lectures or group sessions, it is usually hard for individuals to receive feedback from their tutors as they are one amongst a group of people. Compare this to technology driven educational platforms: learners receive instant feedback on how well they have performed on a topic. This enables students to review immediately their scores and understand areas for improvement, allowing them to practise and fail within a safe environment.   

For instance, Immersify Dental’s experience Chartistry, our AR approach to Dental Charting, allows learners to assess a randomly generated patient and fill out the chart. When they are done, they get instant feedback regarding elements they missed in their analysis as well as receive pointers as to how to correctly fill out the chart.  

Another Immersify Dental experience, LA, commonly known as Local Anaesthetic, presents case scenarios and asks the learner to make an informed decision based on a patient’s clinical history. Once they chose the type of anaesthetic, injection site and angle, the feedback comes with reasons why the anaesthetic was the correct one or a better option in each scenario – the learner also gets to see an animation of the nerves affected by the anaesthetic. 

81% of US college students agreed that digital learning technology was helping them to improve their grades 

Get ahead of the curve 

Educational bodies in dentistry need to adopt new technologies to support current and future generations, as this will demonstrate their proactiveness in being forward-thinking, instead of being reactive.  

There shouldn’t be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to learning, that’s why using educational platforms, like Immersify Dental, can provide a tailored, interactive, and fun learning experience for pre-dental, dental students and dental professionals. 

Now, I’m not saying that institutes, tutors, or learners should sack off the more traditional forms of learning, what I am saying, is that both traditional and modern learning methods should be adopted to provide individuals with the best learning experience. 

If you want to know more about the Immersify Dental platform or would like to book a demo then please reach out to my email, christinesmethurt@immersifyeducation.com, where I would be happy to demonstrate how the platform will be beneficial to you and/or your students.  

References 

Prensky M. (2001) Digital natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, Vol. 9, No. 5 pgs. 1–6. 

1st statistic    https://www.statista.com/statistics/662850/digital-study-technologies-usage-results-usa/

2nd statistic https://www.statista.com/statistics/662547/opinions-on-digital-study-technologies-as-academic-tools-usa/  

3rd statistic https://www.growthengineering.co.uk/55-online-learning-statistics/   

Games in dental education: playing to learn or learning to play?. (2019), British Dental Journal, vol. 227, pgs. 459–460. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-019-0784-7