Eastman Dental Institute


Dentistry at a distance: postgraduate training during lockdown

7 May 2020

During lockdown we have continued to provide excellent postgraduate training for those enrolled on our specialist programmes.

distance online learning

We are utilising multiple virtual learning platforms to deliver and facilitate live tutorials, lectures, journal clubs, case discussions and one-to-one meetings.  

We have also developed novel online assessments as part of our commitment to ensuring that our high academic standards do not diminish during these unprecedented times.

The unusual circumstances have accelerated existing plans to incorporate online teaching into all our programmes, building on best practice established by our existing distance learning courses*. 

Professor Albert Leung, Chair of Dental Education, said: “The fact we were already engaged in comprehensive distance learning meant that the transition to online delivery was seamless, as we already had tools in place for delivering excellent teaching in a virtual environment. 

“The lockdown began on 18th March and on the afternoon of the 19th we delivered our first online seminar for our postgraduates.

“Moreover, although all on-site CPD courses have been cancelled, we have already hosted a suite of virtual webinars on Advanced Aesthetics, Periodontics, Sports Dentistry, Paediatric Dentistry and Dental Sedation. 

“We also have many other on-line programmes to be delivered shortly through our various platforms.”

Academics are also meeting weekly to exchange knowledge and feedback:

Dr Pareet Shah, Deputy Director of the Implant Dentistry Diploma, said: “Our online platforms are very versatile, we use them as an admin and management tool; we can organise our students into groups very easily, upload hand outs and documents into one place, sync our diaries and record webinars for later viewing. 

“Like most programmes we have online sessions where students can present patient cases very easily - it’s almost like being in the same room. 

“We have also redesigned our sessions to include greater interactivity - parts where we ask participants questions to encourage collaboration. 

“Finally, we can also gain control of another computer – so if a student needs help with digital treatment planning software, for example, we can log in with their permission to help re-position their implants, while the rest of the group can see what we’re doing and learn simultaneously.”

Dr Jeanie Suvan, Director of the Dental Hygiene MSc, said: “We have created a space called ‘the BAR’ - Blackboard Available Room - which is open to students at all times and we have had tremendous uptake. 

“They can connect as a group and present things to each other; they complete group work, discuss articles and it allows them to collaborate when it suits them which is a terrific advantage” 

Professor Paul Ashley, Director of the Paediatric Dentistry DDent, said: “We have no clinics and students now both in the UK and overseas – including some redeployed on the front line to tackle the pandemic – so we have developed three strands of teaching: online altogether, offline group work and offline individual work. 

“This accommodates the needs and availability of all our postgraduates. They are also encouraged to nominate topics for discussion and revision.”

Student feeback

We are extremely gratefu to our postgraduates for their patience, perseverance and their ability to adapt to the new model. Feedback has been positive:

“The department has been rapid in response to the change in training circumstances and in addressing key issues with the student body, in particular the clinical side. Also it has been engaged with keeping up-to-date with students' needs and also minimize disruption to the academic side of the provision of training.” 

“The online teaching has been a great substitute for face-to-face lectures. We have been able to participate in interactive sessions with different speakers as well as viewing case presentations and lectures, without any technical glitches. Owing to this, our theoretical teaching and assessments haven’t been hindered.” 

“I think it has been a remarkable adjustment considering the challenges that the college is facing and we are all grateful.” 

“I think we have stayed close as a Unit and all students included. We have used the opportunity to work in a modern way, sharing information, staying connected and moving forward in unprecedented times. I liked that a meeting was set up with me early on and felt supported. The treatment planning seminars still bring us together and the seminars are good online.“ 

“I think teaching via Microsoft Teams is working really well. I'm enjoying how interactive the sessions are and saves us on the travel as well. Well organised in terms of timings and after a couple of sessions it's really straightforward to use.” 

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