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The University of Maryland Dental School is offering a unique tool to dental students, a "virtual school" where students can learn how to practice infection control, learn the best dental care techniques, help children overcome fear and practice role playing in dental situations.
"What we are doing is developing a 3D virtual world that we can use to engage in global outreach, teaching, and perhaps collaboration," says Ann Trotman, BDS, MS, associate dean for Academic Affairs. "So far, it has been reasonably well received by both students and faculty. This is another tool - one of several instructional tools that faculty can have to work with. Each faculty member will approach this with their own ideas."
Based on the three-dimensional modeling software "Second life", the virtual school allows dentists to control their computer counterparts by way of keyboard and mouse or by voice-controlled head sets.
The virtual dental school option will be part of first-year orientation for students starting next fall, according to Trotman.
The University of Maryland Dental School has made use of other digital high-tech innovations in instruction, including the ability to create a computer-generated dental impression and then a final resolution in less than an hour.
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