Virtual and augmented reality technologies are being used as an important teaching tool for University of Queensland dental students who practice with 3D headsets before working on real clients.
Dr. Sobia Zafar from the Digital Dental Team at UQ School of Dentistry said technology-enhanced learning has transformed the experience of more than 400 students in the past four years.
“Training dental students is a complex process as it requires a lot of fine motor skills, as well as hand-foot and eye coordination,” said Dr. Zafar.
“Despite having simulation sessions to provide a smooth transition to clinics, 87 percent of students said they felt they needed additional training before being put into real life.
“That’s why we decided to incorporate both virtual and augmented reality technologies into our classes to provide additional, immersive training for students.
“Virtual reality allows students to practice in a safe environment, make mistakes they can correct, and improve their confidence before entering a clinic to treat real clients.”
When wearing a virtual reality headset, students interact with 3D holographic images that allow them to see through skin to explore the human body, especially the parts relevant to their studies such as head and neck anatomy.
With augmented reality technology, students wear a headset and built-in sensors mimic their movements as they navigate a virtual dental clinic and interact with a virtual patient.
Students can also practice administering local anesthesia through software co-developed by Dr. Zafar and Dr. Jessica Zachar, something new to this area of instruction.
Their dedication to student development has been recognized with a commendation in UQ’s 2022 Teaching and Learning Awards..
Dr. Zachar said the team’s goal was to provide stimulating learning environments so that students could develop into well-rounded health professionals.
“These digital teaching tools have helped students maximize their potential and expand their knowledge of dental trauma management, dental anatomy and local anesthesia management,” said Dr. Zachar.
“We want to set up students to become leaders within the profession and local community, delivering optimal health care.
“It’s a great feeling to be recognized for our work in this year’s Teaching and Learning Awards.
“We hope this inspires other health professions to consider digital innovative learning because this teaching style is not limited to just dentistry.”
Media: UQ Communications, Bridget Druery, [email protected]+61 (0)435 221 246.