LEIPZIG, Germany: In recent years, the dental industry’s approach to continuing education (CE) has often focused on in-person learning opportunities at congresses, symposia, etc. This didactic track is unfortunately one of many areas of the dental profession to have been drastically impacted by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Typical of dentistry’s spirit of innovation, many dental companies and institutions quickly turned to alternative methods of teaching, and dental professionals responded enthusiastically.
In a recent study published in the European Journal of Dental Education, researchers from the Department of Prosthodontics at Peking University in Beijing, China sought to measure the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the supply of living dental CEs in China. Their findings indicated a dramatic shift of CE from a physical to an online environment: while only 28.6% of dental facilities included in the study offered CE online before the SARS-CoV-2 lockdown, this figure rose to 100% once physical distancing restrictions were in place.
According to the study authors, online continuing education courses have been shown by previous reviews in the medical literature to be just as effective as in-person education. Furthermore, they postulated that the eagerness of dental professionals to participate in digital learning indicates its great potential as an educational tool of the future. With this in mind, it is instructive to see how the dental world has reacted.
Dental companies are turning to e-learning platforms
Although the study’s findings were limited to China, the flurry of online educational platform launches and events over the past few months has confirmed that many leading dental companies are adapting to the new landscape of learning.
Dental companies such as metron and KaVo Dental took the opportunity to launch their own e-learning solutions, with the aim of giving dental professionals instant access to timely, informative and interactive educational resources.
“Online webinars have become an essential pillar of continuing education within the dental community,” Dr. Frank Emde, director of professional education and clinical affairs at KaVo Dental, told Dental Tribune International (DTI) during the company’s May launch of its own educational platform. , KaVo Academy. “Webinars have been a growing industry for a few years now, and there is a high demand for these free, always-on training sessions.”
E-Learning Events Succeed
During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, a number of other companies with established online learning forums hosted webinar-focused events to replace those originally scheduled to take place offline. Overall, these events have proven to be extremely successful in terms of attendance and often enjoyed increased reach, underscoring the increasing demand from the dental community for these educational options.
In a bold move in March, CURADEN announced that it would host a week full of webinars on its CURADEN Academy to enable dental professionals to earn CE credits from home. On the Straumann Campus, two major online events—the Straumann 2020 VIRTUAL Symposium on Immediacy and the Symposium on the fundamentals of immediacy— marked Straumann’s continued expansion into e-learning, development already started before the start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
As the pandemic continued to cause the postponement and cancellation of in-person dental events around the world, companies increasingly turned to the digital sphere to host online conventions, often with excellent results. Towards the end of May, the Ivoclar Vivadent International Expert Symposium attracted over 16,000 registrants from 126 countries, while nearly 10,000 people signed up for 3Shape free 24H Global Symposium, a 24-hour webinar marathon which featured 30 online lectures last month. GC Europe held its first international congress MI online on June 20 under the theme “Minimum Intervention Dentistry for Your Life”, registering approximately 5,500 registrations for the one-day event.
It’s not just dental companies that have turned to online platforms to offer CE. Last month, the FDI World Dental Federation, the main representative body for more than one million dentists worldwide, launched its own webinar platform, FDI Oral Health Campus. The objective of the platform is to provide new, relevant and far-reaching continuing education opportunities of specific benefit to FDI members.
Dental Tribune joins the party
Of course, DTI itself should also be mentioned in relation to current approaches to dental CE, for multiple reasons. All corporate campus events and webinars reported here were organized and hosted in conjunction with DTI, who used their extensive network to reach out to all parts of the global dental community and help make these initiatives a success. These educational business models have been developed in line with the longstanding success of DTI’s own CE platform, DT Study Club. Through this platform, DTI has so far hosted 34 live webinars during the SARS-CoV-2 lockdown period, providing CE opportunities on a wide range of topics. In total, the company has hosted an impressive 284 webinars over the past four months, with many more already planned for the future.
“Continuing education is one of the three pillars of the DTI portfolio, and e-learning has seen the strongest growth among our many businesses over the past few years. We noticed this trend even before the pandemic,” said DTI CEO Torsten Oemus. “However, online dentistry education has really gained momentum with the COVID-19 outbreak and related restrictions on travel and events. The need for online education has become apparent and has made even slow adopters consider this option. With our years of experience and unique global network, DTI was well positioned as a partner to some of the leading dental companies to successfully bring their events online. The registration figures speak for themselves and clearly show that online CE events are not a compromised solution for canceled live events, but a real and perhaps even better alternative in today’s digitized world. today.
“Continuing education is one of the three pillars of the DTI portfolio, and e-learning has seen the strongest growth among our many businesses in recent years” – Torsten Oemus, CEO of DTI
What does the future look like?
With the pandemic still unfolding, earning continuing education credits through webinars and other online learning opportunities will likely continue to be the norm rather than the exception. However, it is a reality that the next generation of dentists are already accepting, given that many recent graduates experienced their commencement ceremonies virtually through online platforms such as YouTube, Zoom and Facebook Live.