Technology is rapidly advancing and changing the way students learn. There are many different predictions for what will come out as the major advancement. However, a similar thread runs through every thought people have been having: The curriculum will focus on more interactions between the student and teacher, promoted through tools that both will use to better the educations of the learners.
One such tool is video communication. YouTube is prime example, according to Wired, and dental academic software also makes use of video. The chief benefit of this method of delivery is that a lecture can be given while students are away in their rooms otherwise preoccupied with studying. They can listen at their own pace and take appropriate notes. If something complex is being described, then students can easily rewind and look back at what had been said before. Diagrams can also be delivered through this digital format, so that students can use their dental school software to look at pictures of periodontal tissue or a cross section of the tongue. Professors have access to the back end, which means they can see who looked at the videos along with who hasn't seen them yet. Warnings can be given to those who haven't been following along, and this will impress the students more than if they'd simply attended class and didn't pay enough attention to the lecture.
Student and teacher interactions
Education Dive looked at several new tools, and they all share the common feature of letting the professor have closer ties to the students through software that brings the two parties' common interests together. Professors want their students to learn the material as thoroughly as possible, while students want to advance their studies and gain the skills required of certified dentists and oral hygiene professionals. By having the professor look at what students have accomplished on their own through quizzes and exams, along with homework done, professors can see weak points. They can read what students have written down, and can ask that students do surveys. This means writing skills can be addressed and the particular difficulty points of different lectures can be discovered quickly. Professors can better themselves through learning these things, which would otherwise remain unknown.
Grades can also be issued online, saving students the time of having to wait for a letter to arrive in the mail. Paperwork is also eliminated because everything is digital. Students can save on paper and be more organized because they won't have messy collections of loose-leaf printed matter.
It still depends on the professor
All of this is still heavily dependent on interactions with an empathetic and strict professor who will ensure students do their work thoroughly and with a good sense of the ethics of overcoming challenges. U.S. News and World Report argued that when students are left to their own devices and given busy work to complete on the Internet, they will slack in their duties to learn materials. Additionally, when professors don't give students a reason to study their books, then they won't study them.
In other words without a good professor, students can't learn anything. This is no news. With educational software, however, students can get more of a good thing: their professor will contact them personally with important issues and keep an eye on his or her students. Additionally, professors will have their materials available online, which will make studying easier and more personalized.
Finally, students at a dental school are not undergrads. They have a vested interest in doing well, and contain the necessary personal motivation that many younger people might lack. It's in their best interests to have these tools available.