Dentistry debuts new iWall, interactive classroom

by Ann Alexander and Sydnie Hochstein, UNMC College of Dentistry | October 03, 2018

Image with caption: James K. Wahl, III, Ph.D., professor in the UNMC Department of Oral Biology, and Cameron Aitken, second-year dental student, utilize the College of Dentistry's new iWall. Photo by Peggy Cain.

James K. Wahl, III, Ph.D., professor in the UNMC Department of Oral Biology, and Cameron Aitken, second-year dental student, utilize the College of Dentistry's new iWall. Photo by Peggy Cain.

The first day of school at the UNMC College of Dentistry looked a little different this year. It was full of excitement for Room 1201, now known as the "COD iWall Room."

Previously a traditional lecture classroom with a projector screen, stationary furniture and few electrical outlets, Room 1201's renovation has transformed it into an interactive classroom that fosters student-centered educational experiences.

The remodeled room now features a nine-panel iWall, six computers with touch-screen monitors and flexible furniture. The remodel also included new carpet, paint, blackout shades, an increased number of outlets, and the purchase of portable charging stations available for students to check out.

With the installation of the iWall and other interactive technology, dental and dental hygiene instruction is changing -- and challenging faculty members to rethink the way they present educational content. It also allows users to connect with iWalls on other campuses, particularly with other dental colleagues in Omaha and Scottsbluff.

Richard Reinhardt, D.D.S., Ph.D., professor in the department of surgical specialties, and David Shaw, Ph.D., interim associate dean for research and chair of the department of oral biology, were early users of the new classroom. Dr. Reinhardt's class uses the iWall for basic image projection and case example annotations. While apprehensive about the technology at first, Dr. Shaw said he looks forward to developing new course materials with the iWall in mind.

Due to the mobile furniture and the touch screen capabilities, the room is ideal for small group projects and discussions, said Steven Haas, D.M.D., J.D., associate dean for clinical affairs.

"This will enhance our ability to train dental students in evidence-based decision making," he said. "They can review case studies with research literature being only a click away and use annotation features right on the actual patient images."

"We have been planning this renovation since UNMC first introduced the iEXCEL initiative, so to see the room and the technology come to life has been an incredible experience," said Janet Guthmiller, D.D.S., Ph.D., dean of the College of Dentistry. "It has been especially gratifying to see the students adopt this technology and make it their own. They are constantly teaching us new ways to use the technology that we hadn't even dreamed of."

Students are able to use the room after-hours to study, allowing them a chance to further explore the interactive capabilities of the iWall.

"The new technology reflects the shift in the College of Dentistry's educational programs towards addressing the needs of its current and future students," said Devin Mitchell, second-year dental student.

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