Friday 25 November 2016 9:38am
Dental students (from left) Arnon Sharp, Lucky Masilamani and Nick Twaddle take a look at e-Den teaching tools.
State-of-the-art online learning is on the way for University of Otago dental students with the faculty set to tap into e-Den, part of e-Learning for health care in the UK.
Run by a not-for-profit organisation called eIntegrity, which was set up by the UK National Health Service (NHS), it offers a multitude of educational opportunities for clinicians there.
Otago is set to become the first dental school outside the UK to have access to the e-Den part of the system, thanks in no small part to Faculty Dean Professor Paul Brunton who led the development of the dentistry project prior to his move to New Zealand, and continues to be its clinical leader.
"E-Den offers over 300 learning sessions of 20-30 minutes each, which students can tackle on their own or in a group."
"E-Den offers over 300 learning sessions of 20-30 minutes each, which students can tackle on their own or in a group," Professor Brunton says.
"Topics range from anaesthesia through to pathology and radiology, as well as pain management and safe prescribing. It even covers ethical areas such as shared decision-making."
Illustrations, anatomical animations and videos are used to support learning.
"It's all very high quality educational material as the development of the programme was well funded," Professor Brunton says.
Each session has a set of learning objectives for the student, as well as knowledge prerequisites to be able to tackle the session. Built-in tests also allow students to compare their answers to textbook answers.
Professor Brunton says it is an excellent add-on to classroom learning.
"When I used to give my lectures in the UK I would get students to look at e-Den beforehand so they were familiar with what was going to be in the lecture. That means they could then use the lecture to ask questions and discuss. It was a very powerful use of the time.
"When I demonstrated e-Den to our student committee ... they were unanimous in their support of the project and its inclusion."
"It allows them to relate theory to clinical examination and treatment, which is very valuable."
Students can also rate each session when they are finished, which helps with the updating and refinement of each session.
"When I demonstrated e-Den to our student committee essentially to see if they thought there was value in having it in the Faculty, they were unanimous in their support of the project and its inclusion," Professor Brunton says.
"We are currently building a new academic home for the Dental School and we will soon have state-of-the-art facilities to work in. We see having e-Den as an integral component of our modernisation programme."
There is also scope to use e-Den for continued professional development once they have graduated.
"They can go through it at home in the evening or even use it as a team building exercise within the practice."
Professor Brunton says eIntegrity markets the product internationally and all funds are put back into further developing the programme.