Why is Online Dental Education Becoming Popular?
Most if not already all levels and fields of study have integrated the use of the internet for the education of individuals around the world. Online schools, from primary to high school to college level and beyond, are starting to infiltrate the traditional education system; consequently allowing more opportunities for all individuals to study and learn. This effectively removes barriers such as costs, location of home from school, physical disabilities, work requirements, and even environmental and social conflicts that would prevent a person from gaining or finishing an education. As such, even the dental profession has opened its doors to the concept of online education, allowing both dental students and already practicing dental professionals to participate in a learning environment that may be more conducive to them.
Developed and developing countries have made the transition towards modern living and modern lifestyles. Persons living in such environments constantly find their days filled with responsibilities, activities or errands; and sometimes completing an education needs to take a backseat. Getting a degree as an oral health care worker is a time-demanding feat, no matter what position in the dental team one wishes to take – dentist, hygienist, technician, etc. Attending classes, plus the commute to and from the school, may conflict or pose some problem to the daily schedule of one who has to balance getting this education with maintaining a job or performing family responsibilities. Hence, the beauty of enrolling in online dental education that allows a student to complete study courses at one’s own allotted time without it having to majorly interfere or disrupt a daily schedule. In addition, already practicing oral health care workers may use this method of study for the acquisition of their required CPD (Continuing Professional Development) hours, which goal is to enhance the practitioner’s abilities to provide proper and adequate dental education and treatment to their patients, without them needing to take a leave from the clinic.
Maintaining or running a traditional brick-and-mortar school involves a lot of work and expense. Attending one also has its share of inconveniences and costs. For a traditional school to run, there is need for the use of man power, electricity, water, gas, supplies and other things. On the part of the student going to the school and using its facilities, there is consumption of these same resources, which all contribute to increasing the carbon footprint. On the other hand, enrolling in online dental education reduces the operations of traditional schools, the need for school supplies and the consumption of resources such as gas for vehicles. The most that the student will need is a computer with an internet connection to be able to access countless study materials, lectures, and demonstration videos; furthermore, even be able to communicate with a professor or dental expert for clarifications or explanations on a subject matter. This still gives the student convenient access to a wide array of educational material and at the same time benefitting society and the environment.
Learning from home involves a different dynamic as compared to learning in a classroom alongside several other individuals. Not all persons learn the same way and some would show more progress with at-home online education systems. The course of a dental education is in truth quite demanding and the added pressure to do this in a classroom set-up may be challenging for some students. Persons with social inabilities or learning difficulties may, through online dental education, choose to study and learn within their own familiar environment, effectively removing barriers that would inhibit their understanding or slow their progress.
There has been a rise in persons taking online education for different fields of work, including that of oral health care workers. The reasons for the increasing popularity of online dental education are varied and subjective, but generally attributed to it being conducive to a person’s situation in life. It may be seen as a method or an opportunity that breaks barriers, removes hindrances and reduces inconveniences in order for a person, whether dental student or dental practitioner, to gain an education and maintain a position as part of the oral health care work force.