Tips for bringing dental school software into the classroom

November 7th, 2014

Many teachers struggle with adapting to new technology. Part of this has to do with the age gap between people born in a world that has always known about smartphones versus those who lived in a time when most computers took up the space of a large room. Software is changing so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up with the latest innovations. And yet, teachers must begin using these devices in their classrooms. Students learn better with technology, and starting an education in a difficult field like dentistry is already challenging. By giving someone access to dental academic software, professors are allowing their students to develop and enhance their knowledge areas in ways that they can already understand from prior experiences. Secondary schools and even grade schools have begun integrating Internet-enabled devices that allow students to access course materials from their phones, making it easy to learn new things quickly and easily.

Ways of connecting dental school software with lectures and classes
U.S. News and World Report offered three ways professors can begin bringing technology into their curricula to facilitate the learning process. The easiest way to begin is by studying up on what is available. One example is to consider the flipped-classroom approach. This is where students study lecture material at home on their personal devices, and then use the classroom time to begin working on "homework," which would be done with the professor's help. For example, a class about periodontal tissue would involve a study session using dental school software at home from their personal devices, followed by a class in which students can label different parts of the bone and tissue that make up the periodontium. The professor could show students images of the mouth and talk about his or her personal experiences with periodontal disease.

Rather than making the class less focused on a great professor,  this example is actually more teacher-intensive. This is because the teacher has freed up the time he or she would normally take to educate students with a lecture that might be boring for the people listening or at least for the professor who gives the same talk every year. Instead, this time is spent alone by the students with interactive software that lets them understand things at their own pace. Time inside the classroom can shift to questions and answers, along with stories and projects. The professor becomes the star, in other words, with far greater student interaction.

Major schools are using technology to bring databases to students
According to Campus Technology,The Berklee College of Music has now brought much of its digital library into a cloud-based system similar to that used by dental and hygiene academic software. Students can access this information from any device they choose because the software is Web-based. It is essentially giving people an entire library, with everything they need to study and learn from, right in the palm of their hand.

"We want to unlock the value of those learning assets by letting faculty reuse them in new ways," said Assistant Vice President Jay Barnes of the digital learning department. "To do that, we needed a central repository with appropriate metadata attached to each file that would enable faculty to find interesting examples of diatonic harmony, for example, and use them in their course homework assignments and reading materials."

Such a program would be excellent for dental students as well because this would give a greater permeability to the material, which could move from being focused on independent study, to group research projects and homework assignments.

Technology is the way things are going, and colleges that don't keep up will be left in the dust.

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