E-learning in Orthodontics: A more efficient and effective way to learn
It will be no surprise to you that, as a founder of an education provider, I am a strong advocate for learning and professional development. Over the years, I have travelled the globe presenting and attending conferences, to learn from and engage with the best minds in our industry.
Prior to 2020, I was a little unsure what to expect from a virtual learning platform or how to harness it for maximal effect for my students. Given the pandemic years and inability for people to travel, with increasing demand for education during lockdown from dental practitioners, BOSS innovated fast to create the world’s first 100% online Australian and UK accredited diploma qualifications in the field of digital orthodontics.
However, we understand there are still some concerns and questions about this new way of education.
Would the content resonate with me in the same way via a screen, rather than a human being?
Would I be able to interact with the speakers and the audience?
Would I get bored?
Now, having had the time to design and deliver our online training, I can honestly say this is the most powerful way to learn for many of our students, and here is why.
Customisable learning experience
The on-demand digital e-learning platforms allows participants to revisit things that resonates with them, or that they may have missed the first time around, taking away the need for frantic note taking and the fear of not remembering a crucial part of a lecture that has cost you thousands of dollars to attend (including travel).
Watch a video at 3x speed or 1x – choice is yours!
I love taking notes during lectures or seminars and have on more than one occasion been known to exit conference rooms carrying reams of scribbled covered pages.
Being able to take notes digitally is a game changer. It allows one to make more relevant, detailed notes and avoid the timeless chore of deciphering their own doctor-like handwriting (lol – I am guilty too!). And these can then be emailed easily for future reference or sorted digitally for quick find searches on mobile devices.
The sound of silence isn’t unfamiliar when the speaker opens up to the room for questions at traditional face to face events. Typically, only a small number of attendees are undeterred by the crowd and willing to raise their hands. Even when a good question is asked things can be lost in translation, especially at larger events.
The live chat functionality of webinars and e-learning portals is an excellent solution to this. Not only does it remove the stage fright element for the audience, but it allows the audience to more easily understand and deeply consider the ideas of others.
The social sacrifice
Unfortunately, and depending on your disposition for other people, there may be one significant drawback to online learning, this being a lack of human contact. I do personally miss the personal interaction, conversation and networking with other dental practitioners that would usually be a feature of traditional conferences. Unfortunately, this is something that simply cannot be replaced virtually and this social sacrifice is a definite drawback of the virtual orthodontic learning for me.
As the format evolves, I feel there may be an opportunity to integrate other technology and platforms such as Slack (as we do with our BOSS students and Alumni) to enable more organic conversations during and following the event. This may not replace boozy hotel bar chats after the event, but it is certainly a step in the right direction and from a learning perspective, I cannot fault the digital conference format. A virtual fun run can also help here where participants all undertake a group activity, separately and post online pictures or statistics like they would share in a conversation.
A more effective and efficient way to learn
In my opinion, the online format is a more effective and efficient way to learn. A sentiment echoed by 90% of enrolled dental practitioners who voted the BOSS and The Digital Orthodontic College’s e-learning platform as their favourite component of the course (Reference – 2021 BOSS participant survey), followed by the fact being an Orthodontist-led course.
Online learning has become a necessity and popularised throughout the pandemic. However research dating back to 2007 highlighted the benefit of web based educational materials for dental students via the enablement of students to choose the time, place, and pace of study and that a web-based curriculum can decrease classroom time and provide self-paced, active learning experiences (P. A. Reynolds et al, British Dental Journal).
Further research suggests using broader medical education demonstrated high engagement and efficacy of the format, especially when multimedia resources, live teaching and the facilitation of synchronous communication is provided (Broudo &. Walsh. MEDICOL: online learning in medicine and dentistry).
This is why our Australian & UK accredited 10905NAT Graduate Diploma of Digital Orthodontic Treatments not only provides an industry leading evidence based curriculum, but an blended online experience that provides students with a range of live and recorded lectures, a comprehensive resource library including the latest fulltext journals and access to our participant & alumni slack channels where treatments and live cases are discussed regularly.
In a recent survey of BOSS students, 100% of respondents, of which the majority had more than 5-years clinical experience and were either practice owners or associates, would recommend BOSS to their peers. Along with the overwhelming majority placing the e-learning portal above all other aspects of the course, 95% of respondents agreed that the course curriculum was well presented and organised, whilst their questions were answered quickly and thoroughly.