Do you teach for the present or for the future?
I spent a facinating day at the ADEA Dean’s Conference in La Jolla. Dental schools are very interested in using new digital technology and applying it to teaching methods. However at the same time they need to teach dental students how to function in the real world where the majority of dental offices do not have digital impressions or electronic records.
At some schools students are prepping typodont teeth immediately as first year students, scanning the prep to create a digital impression which is evaluated against an ideal prep by a robot (AI) instructor. The feedback is immediate, it is objective (no human is telling the student they did it wrong) and the student can try again immediately with another typodont tooth.
The result is gameification. That is making a perfect prep becomes like a level on a video game. If the student fails, oh well he/she has plenty of other lives, just try again.
Students also learn to use 3D manipulation software with simulated teeth, placing virtual implants, aquilibrating teeth with virtual articulators and designing virtual restorations as part of their pre-clinical training so that when they actually prep a real tooth they can scan it and create a restoration immediately.
Still other schools are using digital technology to break away from the traditional teaching methods of books and lectures.
We all know that knowledge is changing so fast that any traditionally printed textbook is out of date by the time it is published. The alternative is to provide bite size chunks of information that students can access any time, any where. The instructors can track each students progress. Students can display competency at any time by simply taking the tests that accompany each module. And the information in each learning module can be updated instantly for all students if needed. No wait for a new text book to be published some time next year.
The challenge here is accreditation and competency. If a wiz kid student can finish all the modules and prove his/her competency in three years can they graduate? So far no. Administration and accreditation agencies are cautious and have yet to sign off completely on these new methods. However change is in the air.