The restrictions on movement necessitated by regulations to control the outbreak of COVID-19 have caused a widespread rethink about how we conduct our lives. Many people have utilised digital technology to work at home by means of video conferencing and other state of the art applications. In education the positive aspects of online learning have been emphasized as providers at all levels -from primary school to university- have been required to close their doors to students. Although the current coronavirus pandemic is hopefully a temporary problem, as technology rapidly improves the world is becoming ever more digitally connected and online/distance learning will become a permanent and probably dominant mode of educational delivery. The advantages are such that learning will become equally accessible to most of the world’s population irrespective of wealth or mobility.
At the School of Dental Nursing we have always recognised the many advantages of online provision. Students save valuable time by not being required to attend classes at set times and there are also savings in travel costs which can often be substantial. Online learning gives maximum flexibility for students to balance their study with various family and work commitments.
Some students feel that online learning means that they will be on their own and not have the benefit of access to their tutors in person .However, this is not the case as we provide all directed reading, course materials and videos so that our students are constantly in touch with the School. They are free to contact their tutor with queries at any reasonable time and they are given continuous feedback on their work and progress. They can also keep in touch and share their experience with other students through the virtual chat room which is provided on the School’s sophisticated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The School has been a pioneer in the development of supported online learning which is highly valued by its successful students.