UDENTE (Universal Dental E-Learning) A Golden Opportunity for Dental Education

P A Reynolds

Abstract


The incorporation of technological advancementsbr /in higher education has started to bridgebr /the gap in local, national and global deliverybr /of dental courses. This gap, including thebr /global decrease in senior clinical academics,br /has influenced the development of new teachingbr /and learning techniques. Institutionalbr /virtual learning environments (VLE) and otherbr /e-learning resources are now in higher demandbr /[1, 2].br /This paper describes how one such innovativebr /solutions has been IVIDENT (Internationalbr /Virtual Dental School), has enabled securebr /and seamless access to high quality e-contentbr /and tools through an innovative, universalbr /flexible learning platform. IVIDENT, nowbr /UDENTE (Universal Dental E-learning) hasbr /been shown to offer new learning experiencesbr /for students of dentistry, but its approach canbr /apply across all educational domains. UDENTEbr /also benefits staff as it allows them to contributebr /and access resources through peerbr /reviewed publishing processes, which ensurebr /the highest quality in education [3].br /UDENTE was developed thanks to a £2.3br /million grant from the Higher Education Fundingbr /Council for England (HEFCE) and thebr /Department of Health. http://www.udente.org.br /This academically led educational researchbr /project involved dental schools in seven countries.br /An initially scoping of requirements wasbr /followed by elaboration of the tools needed.br /Pilot testing of the tools, systems and learningbr /resources in particular and the impact of thebr /UDENTE in general were carried out.br /The pilots revealed evidence of positive impactbr /of a space for learning, teaching, developmentbr /and communication, with tools for planningbr /of electives and administrative support.br /The results of these initial pilots have beenbr /positive and encouraging, describing UDENTEbr /as an accessible, user friendly platformbr /providing tools that otherwise would be difficultbr /to access in a single space [4]. However,br /attention to supporting faculty to embrace thesebr /new learning domains is essential if suchbr /technology enhanced learning (TEL) is to bebr /viewed as a golden opportunity in Higher Education.

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