How augmented reality is shaping the future of dental education
Chloe Barrett discusses the benefits of Immersify Education and how she hopes to transform the future of dental education.
What is Immersify Education?
We are Immersify Education, an organisation passionate about technology and education. To bridge the gap between theory and practical in a way traditional resources cannot, Immersify Dental, our application, combines:
- Augmented reality – AR
- Interactive animation
- Expert content
- 3D visuals
- Accessible technology.
The concept behind Immersify Dental was developed to support the learning processes of undergraduate dentistry students, hygiene and therapy students, dental nurses, dental technicians, and qualified professionals. It provides them with one-of-a-kind tools to practise key concepts and skills.
We offer resource packages for educational institutions and a separate free app for individuals. The first, set to be released later this year, aligns directly with universities’ curriculums, GDC learning outcomes and supplements the delivery of the undergraduate dentistry and hygiene and therapy syllabuses.
So far, we have piloted this solution with 10 educational institutions. We have received an overwhelmingly positive response.
On the other hand, our free Immersify Dental application for individuals launched on the 12 May 2020. It has been downloaded thousands of times, and reached #3 trending on the Google Play in the education category. Our online community, comprised by undergraduates and professionals in the dentistry field, has also allowed us to reach over 80,000 people nationwide.
But also engage with students from other countries like the United States, Australia, and India. Immersify Dental is available directly from Google Play and the App Store for free. It currently offers options for the dental students to train in several areas of tooth morphology and tooth charting, with both lessons and practicals.
What’s the story behind the app? How did it come about?
The idea of Immersify Education was conceived five years ago to address the problem that educational resources were outdated, expensive and discourage the engagement of students. In 2018, they officially began as Digidentistry, aiming to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical learning in the dentistry field.
Fast-forward to 2019, after discovering the potential of the interactive resources and realising its benefits over traditional materials, they rebranded to Immersify Education. Over that time the founders raised investment; completed pilots in universities in the UK and Europe; recruited a great team and an impressive board of directors; grew a large student community and received fantastic feedback.
How does it complement existing dental education tools?
Unlike other resources, it facilitates students with different learning styles, making it more suited to the present generation of learner. Our portable application contains a range of mixed media, games and quizzes. Pedagogically proven, they improve information retention.
During the pandemic, we have continued to support students by providing free content and resources that keep their knowledge fresh and their skills sharp. Using AR and simulating a clinical setting, it has allowed them to practice at home. This includes things like charting, which would normally require them to be at university or have contact with patients.
In terms of our university solution, our resources cover all core modules, aligning with GDC learning outcomes. Additionally, as the preparation of class materials is a very time-consuming activity for lecturers, we aim to reduce the hours they spend on this.
This provides more time to focus on teaching and research. Lastly, Immersify Dental supports blended learning, which means that makes remote learning a seamless experience.
How and why does gaming/AR help to improve dental education?
Evidence shows that gamification increases information retention. What Immersify’s users love most about it, is that they are reinforcing core concepts of dentistry, and it doesn’t even feel like studying. The leaderboards add a fun level of competition and you can easily see how your skills compare to your peers.
Dentistry is such a practical field making it perfectly suited to augmented reality. Especially in the current climate where there are limits to time spent in clinic. It allows students access to the tools to practise their skills at anytime on digital patients, without the need to purchase an expensive headset.
Our software finds a surface like a table and layers digital content over the real world to interact with. We recreate clinical activities – like phantom heads – and so much more since we aren’t limited to the constraints of the real world. For example, we can create educational experiences like seeing the blood flow and nerves in a tooth the size of a car… the potential really is limitless.
Combining the two concepts with personalisation results in resources that are engaging, accessible, effective and undoubtably the future of education.
Do you think the pandemic helped to highlight the importance of apps such as Immersify Education?
Absolutely. The adoption curve for so many technologies saw a huge increase during lockdown. In a lot of cases, technology changed from being optional, to a complete necessity. People who ordinarily would have buried their heads when it came to new technologies were discovering all the benefits they have to offer.
The pandemic rapidly accelerated the digital shift we were starting to see and made universities and other institutions realise the importance of implementing digital solutions that are much more suited to the modern generation of learners.
Before the pandemic, applications like Duolingo had already proven the viability of mobile education. It grew to become a household name. But for dental education there wasn’t a solution out there, until now.
Where do you hope to take the app looking forward?
Our main focus at the moment is in continuing to establish relationships with universities to offer our enterprise solution. We want Immersify Dental to be available as part of the institution’s resources and complement their learning materials with technological resources that can increase student engagement and strengthen their learning processes.
Our first module will cover clinical applications. It encompasses charting, intra and extra-oral examinations, instruments, introduction to restoration, and more.
For the individuals, we will continue to release dental resources, which will include a range of topics. For example, restoration, endodontics, and oral surgery – just to name a few.
But for us, it is fundamental to continue providing an option for everyone who wants to access our resources, regardless of their location. We want to continue building our community, not only locally but internationally. And consequently be a platform where dental students and professionals from all over the world can come together.
To find out more visit www.immersifyeducation.com
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