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

Why is it important to understand learner trends and patient needs as a lecturer in 2022? When I think about dentistry teaching methods, this is a question I often ask myself. Having a background in dental education and over 25 year’s experience within the dental industry, I appreciate first-hand the importance of dental education delivery and making sure it is the highest quality it can be.  

Following on from my previous blog post on Dentistry Teaching Methods 2022: ‘don’t change what isn’t broken’ – or is it?, I wanted to develop this topic further from both a learners and patient’s point of view.  

Let’s get into it.  

Learner Perspective

Get up to speed with a new teaching trend: Social-Emotional Learning

Now, what is social-emotional learning?  

Social-emotional learning is a teaching method that educators use to provide learners with five core competencies*, these are:  

👤 Self-Awareness 

📝 Self-Management  

🤝 Social Awareness

🫂 Relationship Skills  

💡 Responsible Decision-Making 

These skills are essential to have within dentistry as they are relevant to the day-to-day activities that will be required of individuals throughout their professional career. Take for example self-awareness, this may be seen as something that is simple to understand but this can be difficult for learners to constructively ‘pick faults’ in their learnings. 

Through the Immersify Platform, our dentistry education platform, learners have a personalised learning experience. Students can track their progress through our challenge feature within the platform, which enables them to see their progression throughout the different dentistry topics and highlights the areas that they still need work on. The Immersify Platform uses gamification and quizzes to test an individual’s knowledge on each dentistry module and keeps a record of their score; this relates back to the core competency of self-awareness, a skill in which our platform supports the development of.

Technology is changing ‘what, how and where we learn’

What this heading is referring to is connectivism learning theory*. In short, the more connected we become, the more opportunities our learners have around choices in their learning. Now, how can this concept be applied within dentistry? This is how:

What: the incorporation of learning technologies within the delivery of dental education is going to become increasingly popular with learners. That’s where the Immersify Platform comes in: educators can use the platform complementary to more traditional forms of learning; increasing engagement and motivation for their learners. 

How: technological advancement is increasing the adoption of blended learning and m-Learning within dentistry. The Immersify Platform represents these learning methods – enabling access to comprehensive coverage of academic and industry-led content at your fingertips.   

Where: the accessibility of technology has been a major factor in the mass adoption of new technology across the globe. For instance, the Immersify Platform can be used on the go, between classes, on a work break or at home, enabling learners to practise key dentistry modules wherever, whenever.  

Patient Perspective

With the increased demand, comes the need to up-skill

I’m sure many people will agree that one of the positive things that came out of COVID was that we were able to save money. Aside from the garden renovations that everyone seemed to be doing, the majority of people had higher disposable incomes. This increase, alongside more time at home, allowed individuals to effectively plan for procedures that they may have been putting off pre-COVID.  

The demand from patients wanting implants, increased. Although only 6% of Americans have implants now, by 2026 that number is set to grow to 26%*. Not only do implants promote positive health advantages, but implantology procedures can take up to 12 weeks to complete (maybe longer, as you know!) and requires the patients’ health to be optimum to maximise success rate; you can understand why there has been an increase. 

On the Immersify Platform, our content covers the whole procedure of providing a dental implant. From assessment for suitability and planning, all the way to implant placement, right through to implant risks and causes of failure. Learners can get an overview of how this complex procedure works from start to finish.  

Now, most dental students will only touch lightly on this topic within their final years and in fact, it is more of an additional course to cover once graduating. However, it is essential to make learners aware of patient trends within dentistry. This way, young dentistry professionals can better understand the options available to them, which will help to shape their career path.  

Below is a visual to give you an idea of the implantology content available within our platform 

Putting your best foot forward

Ultimately, learners will become qualified dental professionals working in or owning a dental practice. Keeping this in mind, it is important to understand that patients’ needs and wants change and as a dental practice, you need to meet these needs.  

Teaching in dentistry needs to be flexible.

With this, educators should incorporate the sought-after learning methods, enabling students to have autonomy over their studies. They should also adapt their content delivery, so that they include information on emerging patient trends, enabling learners to better plan for their future.  

But, and it’s an important but, teaching in dentistry shouldn’t deter from delivering strong dentistry fundamentals. Dentistry teaching methods should incorporate emerging patient and learner trends as well as high-quality, standard dentistry practice.  

If you want to know more about the Immersify Platform, please book some time in my Calendly, where I would be happy to demonstrate how the platform will be beneficial to you and/or your students.