University has a bit of a reputation as being the time we can ‘find ourselves’, explore new places, discover our passions, jump outside our comfort zones, and the list of sayings goes on. Three years ago, 18-year old Anusha would have eye-rolled if anyone said those things to me. I was very much the sort to think: “I’m going to London to study Dentistry so that I can come back and be a Dentist in Singapore, what more is there to it?”. That part is true – attending lectures and studying in the library wasn’t so different from all the studying we had to do in school. But looking back, I realise it’s about all the other things associated with our time at university – it’s the increased freedom to have new experiences in life that gives this period it’s well-deserved reputation.
Being an international student, in my opinion, takes this experience to a whole other level. For most, coming to university was new because it wasn’t school, but for me, the university was new because it was in a whole other country.
Some aspects were the same as anyone else starting university – I figured out how to study independently, I made new friends and got involved in student activity groups. And, like anyone living away from home, I learnt to cook, do laundry, set up direct debits and all that. But I do think, being a 13-hour flight from home and in a different time zone to my family and school friends meant there was an added layer. Small things were different – the mannerisms of people, the currency, the accents, the deafening tubes, the way Sainsbury’s in London is somehow so different to Fairprice in Singapore even though they’re both grocery stores. It was these tiny things that in reality didn’t matter but still made me feel like I stood slightly apart from everyone else.
I felt a little more alone and thought I didn’t have the same security blanket as anyone who was living in a country they’ve grown up in.
Now I should say I spent 5 years in London as a child and with English being my first language and having a mixed British-Indian accent, in some ways, it was easy for me to adjust to the move. But it turned out, ten years in Singapore was a long time and was enough to make me feel like I was in a new place again. Three years later, my friends still laugh when I say “pants” instead of “trousers” and I’m still wrapping my head around some of the slang – I will internally cringe when I hear someone say “peak”, but the occasional “innit” might slip my tongue. Also, people don’t realise I’m
an international student; most think I’m from London – I suppose I fit in well, especially in a course that is full of South Asians. But truthfully I do feel different. I am a third culture kid – I grew up away from India, I have a Singaporean passport but attended an international school. My identity is
made-up by the fact that I lived in five different countries, attended eight schools and have lived in more houses than I can be bothered to count. I suppose I now feel at home anywhere I go as long as I find a community, a group of wonderful friends and a purpose. The reason I’m bringing this up is this has affected my outlook – perhaps someone who grew up in Singapore their entire life has had an entirely different experience of being an international student in the UK than I have.
The big question I get when people find out I’m not from the UK is: Where do you want to practice?
Even before I started the course, my friends and family back home would ask if I’ll come back to Singapore after university. Out of my immense love for the life-style in Singapore, I replied with naive certainty that I would indeed return as soon as my degree ended, despite not actually having
stepped foot in London yet. I continued to receive these questions from fellow students, and in those early months of university, I still responded with “Singapore for sure”. However, as time passed, I grew less certain and wasn’t so sure what I wanted anymore. After three fabulous years of living in London, I’ve made friends I would hate to leave and my little, cluttered flat in Elephant in Castle has become my second home. Singapore might have been the country I grew up in for 10 years, but London is the city that I have grown into my own person. I know that decision, ‘London or
Singapore?’, is going to depend on a multitude of factors external to Dentistry and I am excited to see where I’ll end up – maybe even somewhere else entirely, who knows! But for now, when I get asked “Where will you settle down after university”, I respond with a little shrug of my shoulders and two words: “We’ll see”.
The pandemic crisis is changing life as we know it, I would be lying if I said it has not affected me, it is quite the opposite. At the start of the year, just before the lockdown, I thought I was still going to start my Dental Hygiene and Therapy course at university in April. I was really excited to finally start my dream course, I even imaged myself seeing patients and creating beautiful composite restorations!
The beginning of my DHT journey was just around the corner and so was my anxiety; I was asking myself “how am I ever going to do such a hands-on course online?”, “Should I defer until next year?”, “will I be able to understand subjects if it’s all done online?”. Despite my anxieties about the unknown, I enrolled and although it has been an emotional roller-coaster, I have enjoyed the challenge.
What I do to keep sane and motivated?
I have good days and bad days…my motivation fluctuates and there are days when I feel rubbish and do not want to get out of bed; I’ve embraced my feelings and listened to my body.
To keep my mind and body healthy during COVID, I have been doing yoga before bed. It really helps me to calm my mind while thinking about my day and what I have got to do the next day. I would highly recommend it to all dental students as it can also help with posture related problems and help to manage muscular discomfort and pain – something I have experienced working as a dental nurse.
Although at times lockdown life is quite unbearable, I have been able to spend more time with my family and my beloved dog, Bow – I even became a dog groomer! I have also started some new hobbies such as cycling and hiking, I have even had a go at mastering the splits!
Throughout lockdown I’ve had a few assignments and a mock exam to complete: to say the least, I was out of my comfort zone. I’ve been struggling to listen to my own voice when recording presentations and podcasts as part of my university work. However, looking back, it has made me more confident and comfortable; I even recorded a video for Instagram to win some amazing hand scalers…. and I WON!
How do I keep up with my dental studies?
As well as attending daily online lectures, I use a variety of tools to keep me motivated and to help me test my knowledge. The Immersify Dental app could not have launched at a better time! I felt as if I would never learn tooth morphology without seeing teeth in a patient’s mouth, but this dental application has made it possible for me. I still need a lot of practice, but I am sure that with the upcoming practical’s like Immersive MCQ that focuses on tooth morphology, and ‘Chartistry’ to help me practice my charting skills, I will be able to continue learning effectively. The additional support I have experienced from Immersify Education has come from the community they have built for dental students and dental professionals. Their programme means I can connect with other students who are studying the same qualification and get support when required. As an Ambassador, I have been able to connect with like-minded individuals and expand my dental knowledge while being given the opportunity to be involved with online events, competitions, blogs and promote their innovative and engaging educational resources.
Additionally, during this lockdown, most of my days have consisted of webinars and CPD courses, as well as lectures; I think I have completed every dentistry webinar that’s out there, which is great as it complements my studies. I’m confident I wouldn’t have gained all of this extra knowledge if it wasn’t for the positive approach by many dental students and professionals to support and share dentistry knowledge online as a result of COVID!
I think most of us can relate, clearing physical items from one’s closet should be therapeutic; however, I always look for an excuse not to have a clear out. I admit it; I am massive hoarder and find it is quite hard to part with my personal belongings. It was a huge relive to have support from my sister who was happy to help me clear out some old, unused items. Four bin bags of clothes later, we did it! I am ready for you, Sheffield!!
And just like that, I’m back to work
I must say, going back to work was not as easy as I thought. I’m not a person who gets tired easily, but I was exhausted during my first week back. I think this was due to having to adapt to new ways in which we were operating, and the uncertainty which derives from COVID-19.
During my time off I maintained my routine: I got up early every morning to do lectures and I kept busy during the day – I wonder how different things would have been if I hadn’t stuck to a daily plan.
Even though Being a locum dental nurse has its ups and downs, there are mostly ups for me – I love it. Although I don’t know where I’ll be working next, I enjoy meeting new people and learning from them for future practice; you would be surprised how different they all work! This way I am also able to get the feel of each practice and I believe this will help me in the future with my decision-making process when applying for jobs as a DHT.
Times can be hard with everything that’s going on in the world. I think during this pandemic we have been given time to revaluate, and hopefully, it will offer some positive changes to our lives. Lastly a piece of advice for all dental students out there: Do not be hard on yourself! Keep going and let’s stay positive together!
We are Immersify Education, an organisation passionate about technology and education. Our free app combines augmented reality, interactive animation, expert content, 3D visuals, interactivity, and accessible technology to create a one of a kind resource for the modern student. The materials are created in collaboration between renown authors and experts, developers, learning technologists, product designers, students, and translators to better engage students, improve information retention and ultimately increase academic grades.
The idea of Immersify Education was conceived 5 years ago to address the problem that educational resources are outdated, expensive and discourage the engagement of students. In 2018, we officially started as DigiDentistry, aiming to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical learning in the dentistry field. Fast-forward to 2019, after discovering the potential of the app, we re-branded to Immersify Education and realised that the benefit of our offer over traditional materials is that it facilitates students with different learning styles; additionally, the content can be delivered in multiple languages and the concise information is more suited to the present generation of learner. Unlike other resources, our application is portable and accessible with a range of mixed media, games and quizzes that are pedagogically proven to improve information retention:
- Expert content: Developed by renowned academics and industry experts and specialists.
- Professional Voiceover: Audio recorded by qualified dentists
- Gamification and Personalisation: modern teaching principles, competitive games and relevant suggestions.
- Cutting-Edge Technology: Sophisticated and detailed 3D models to enhance the learning experience.
- User-Friendly Interface: Intuitive design allows navigation through interactive animations on an accessible mobile platform
- Standardised information: Detailed and concise content.
We have come a long way and now we are thrilled to be a part of the technological revolution in the dental education sector with an app that helps to practice skills and reinforce the dental knowledge.
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 and study 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 this dental 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 innovative and modernised learning; which can be achieved through incorporating the latest technology in dentistry.
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.
- Boardman M. R.E: Student Essay Immersify Education Overview ed2020.
- Education I. [Available from: https://immersifyeducation.com/.
- Kellesarian SV. Flipping the Dental Anatomy Classroom. Dent J (Basel). 2018;6(3):23.
- Al-Thobity AM, Farooq I, Khan SQ. Effect of software facilitated teaching on final grades of dental students in a dental morphology course. Saudi Med J. 2017;38(2):192-5.
- Nayak M, Sahni P, Singhvi A, Singh A. The perceived relevance of tooth carving in dental education: Views of practicing dentists and faculty in West India. Education for Health. 2014;27(3):238-42.
- Migliau G, Pepla E, Besharat LK, Gallottini L. Resolution of endodontic issues linked to complex anatomy. Ann Stomatol (Roma). 2014;5(1):34-40.
- Obrez A, Briggs C, Buckman J, Goldstein L, Lamb C, Knight W. Teaching clinically relevant dental anatomy in the dental curriculum: Description and assessment of an innovative module. Journal of dental education. 2011;75:797-804.
- Peirce N, Conlan O, Wade V, editors. Adaptive Educational Games: Providing Non-invasive Personalised Learning Experiences. 2008 Second IEEE International Conference on Digital Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning; 2008 17-19 Nov. 2008.
- 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.
- Khaddage F, Lattemann C, Acosta-Díaz R, editors. Mobile gamification in education engage, educate and entertain via gamified mobile apps. Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference; 2014: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).
- Felszeghy S, Pasonen-Seppänen S, Koskela A, Nieminen P, Härkönen K, Paldanius KMA, et al. Using online game-based platforms to improve student performance and engagement in histology teaching. BMC Medical Education. 2019;19(1):273.
- Ltd IE. Immersify Dental. 2020.
- Invest N. Immersify Education 2020 [Available from: https://northinvest.co.uk/immersify-education/.
- Sweet J, Wilson J, Pugsley L. Educational innovations for dentistry. British Dental Journal. 2009;206(1):29-34.
- Reynolds PA. Do we need ‘e’ in learning? British Dental Journal. 2005;199(5):5-6.
- Collins DP, Rasco D, Benassi VA. Test-Enhanced Learning:Does Deeper Processing on Quizzes Benefit Exam Performance? Teaching of Psychology. 2018;45(3):235-8.
- Anthony L, Latt S, Afrose T, Khaing I. Preferred Teaching Methods by Medical and Dental Students of a Private University: The Students’ Perception. 2018;Volume 6:106-11.
- 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.
- 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.