With a rush to stay safe during the COVID-19 global pandemic,
students and faculty at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine had
just a week’s notice that classes would go from in-person to remote delivery.
For faculty, it was a scramble to adjust lesson plans and
familiarize themselves with video conferencing technology. Liz Ramos, DDS, M.S.D.,
senior director of academic achievement and curriculum, spent hours with the CU
Dental IT team and faculty coordinating classes using the computer app, Zoom.
“Zoom has been a useful and efficient tool, giving the
faculty the option to teach in real-time or discuss prerecorded portions of
their lecture,” Ramos says. “Some of our colleagues have used Zoom to schedule
individual and small group meetings with their students as well.”
Since K-12 schools in Colorado also have been closed, a good
number of students, faculty and staff have been working remotely with the added
responsibility of caring for and, in some cases, teaching young children. The
videoconferencing program allows flexibility for those without daycare to
record lectures and watch later.
“The faculty has been very understanding of students’
circumstances,” Ramos says. Even though class attendance is high, she looks
forward to the day when in-person instruction returns.
“From a pedagogy standpoint, learning isn’t just having a
student watch a lecture and take a quiz, but rather learning happens by
engaging with their peers and their faculty,” Ramos says.
For Krithika Baskaran, DDS, B.D.S, even though she misses the
in-class instruction, there is a considerable upside to recording her lectures
and teaching remotely.
“I think it has been a great self-evaluation tool to my
teaching style as I hear my own lecture while I present from a different
perspective,” she says.
Baskaran took 2-3 days to adapt her lectures to the new
online format using Camtasia, a screen recording software. She believes her
first class went well because of the feedback from students and thinks it
helped that she emailed beforehand so her students would know what to expect.
“We take scheduled breaks and review what we have covered so
far,” Baskaran says. “Using this format frees me up to watch the chat for
students’ questions and allows me to answer efficiently during breaks.”
Baskaran says she could not have done this without the tremendous
amount of support from CU Dental’s IT team, which provided resources
for both students and faculty.
And the reviews from students have, for the most part, been
positive. From her home in the metro Denver area, Clara Nghiem (DDS ’23) has no
trouble keeping up with her classes.
“Our faculty has been wonderful to figure everything out and
being so responsive to us,” Nghiem says. “Some have hosted online meetings that
are solely question-and-answer sessions, so I don’t feel like we’re losing that
opportunity to interact with them.”
Her only interaction during the day is with Bentley, her 10-year-old
“Having him snuggled up next to me in ‘class’ and studying
has been the saving grace,” Nghiem says. “It’s just the two of us for 90
percent of the day, so it’s nice to have him here to talk to.”
As a first-year student, Nghiem believes she has plenty of
time to make up lost labs.
“A delay in our education is a tiny price to pay to do our
best to keep the community safe,” Nghiem says.
By John Brunelli, communications manager. Published April 3,