Dental training gets megabytes

November 26, 1999

A two-year dental training partnership project that uses video, computers and the web to deliver course material any time, any where has been launched in Manchester.

The DentalTec project is a programme of innovation and development in the teaching and learning of dental technology. The project was funded by a Pounds 97,000 BT University Development Award.

The project was based on a collaboration between Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. The project was formally funded for two years, running from July 1997 to June 1999.

The project will have a lasting impact on the way that dental technology is taught in both centres, and the way in which continuing training is carried out in commercial dental laboratories.

The DentalTec website has a purpose-built online demonstration area that allows lecturers to compose and publish illustrated demonstrations of procedures in the laboratory.

Robert Ready, the coordinator of the project at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: "The DentalTec project allows teams of educators, working with no special knowledge of the web, to create virtual demonstrations using text, photographic stills and digital video sequences as they wish. The work is peer-reviewed and subject to editorial scrutiny before it takes its place in the library of learning resources."

The lecturer can create demonstrations using text, photographic stills or short digital video clips.

The software holds a lecturer's demonstration in an in-tray, where it is subject to scrutiny by peers and by the website's editor before it is put online. Demonstrations are available to lecturers who can show them in class via large digital monitors.

The library of demonstrations is also available to learners via a network of computers built into the workbenches in the laboratory and to remote users in private or commercial settings anywhere in the world. The online laboratory is password protected.

Alongside the online demonstration environment, other resources are being added to the website.

A comprehensive, annotated library of links to other online

dental and dental technology resources has been developed. The entire database of photographic stills and video clips that exists within the system is offered in a searchable and downloadable form, providing an important resource for all dental technology educators.

The resulting DentalTec website shows that, with skill and imagination, developing technologies can be applied to specific learning situations in higher education to great effect.

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