A Rapid Transition to Blended Learning The Journey of a Dental Degree Programme Pivoting Online

Main Article Content

Robert Allen McKerlie https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4910-2764 Jennifer Malcolm Ourania Varsou Christopher Edward Kennedy Laura Colgan Victoria Harper Wendy McAllan Andrew Forgie Paul Rea Aileen Bell


The University of Glasgow Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree programme is a practical clinical professionally regulated discipline. Given the mode of transmission of SARS Cov-2 the dental profession and associated programmes of study have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, necessitating a rapid pivot to online and blended learning. This case study shows how the work of early adopters of technology enhanced learning and teaching (TELT) at the dental school, and a timely staff-student partnership helped to lay the foundations for this pivot in response to the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

A large amount of teaching required modification and adaptation to support remote delivery and, through collaboration, innovation and supported creativity, we were able to produce some very effective models for learning and teaching. To illustrate this, two specific examples have been presented: a novel approach to support the delivery of essential local anaesthesia training for second year dental students using collaborative wikis and online learning; and the use Microsoft Teams to support student integration and a sense of community among our first year dental students through active, small group collaborative learning.

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have provided the opportunity to align the teaching of practical skills with technology and instil a positive shift in institutional practices. The effectiveness of this shift within the BDS degree programme and the impact on the development of our students will remain the focus of the school’s TELT partnership.

Article Details

Case Studies
Author Biographies

Robert Allen McKerlie, University of Glasgow

Robert McKerlie is a Senior Lecturer, Course Lead for Year 2 of the BDS Programme, and Lead for Digital and Online Learning for the University of Glasgow Dental School. The focus of his scholarship is on the utility of technology-enhanced learning & teaching and active student engagement, in particular co-production.

Jennifer Malcolm, Unversity of Glasgow

Jennifer Malcolm is a Lecturer in Biomedical Science at the University of Glasgow Dental School. Jennifer is an Early-Career Lecturer, with an interest in technology-enhanced learning and teaching. Jennifer led on the implementation and use of Microsoft Teams within BDS1 BAMS theme.

Ourania Varsou, Unversity of Glasgow

Ourania Varsou is a Lecturer in Anatomy at the School of Life Sciences, University of Glasgow. Ourania’s research includes imaging with a strong focus on ultrasound, clinically applied anatomy and scholarship of teaching and learning. Ourania led the development and implementation of the semi-synchronous anatomy wikis for the local anaesthesia symposium.

Christopher Edward Kennedy, Unversity of Glasgow

Christopher Edward Kennedy is a Learning Technology Specialist at the University of Glasgow. He has promoted and supported the use of learning technology within health professionals’ education for over 10 years and specialises in online and blended learning. Christopher led the TELT partnership which redeveloped the Dental School Moodle VLE.

Laura Colgan, Unversity of Glasgow

Laura Colgan is a Clinical University Lecturer in Oral Surgery at the University of Glasgow Dental School. Delivering Oral Surgery undergraduate teaching across all year groups, Laura’s scholarship interest is in technology enhanced learning and teaching. She has led the transition to a digital learning environment within the Oral Surgery Department. 

Victoria Harper, Unversity of Glasgow

Victoria Harper is a Senior Clinical Lecturer/ Honorary Consultant in Restorative Dentistry and Course Lead for Year 1 of the BDS Programme. She teaches across the Specialty of Restorative Dentistry. She is a member of the Dental Education Training Board of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. 

Wendy McAllan, Unversity of Glasgow

Wendy McAllan is an E-Learning Systems Developer based at the Dental School working on the Scottish Dental Education Online project. After obtaining an honours degree in Multimedia Systems, she has over 20 years of experience in creating online content, with a particular interest in 3D and AR technologies.

Andrew Forgie, Unversity of Glasgow

Andrew Forgie is a Senior Clinical University Teacher at the University of Glasgow Dental School, where he is teaching lead in Restorative Dentistry. His scholarship involves 3-D and haptic learning within dentistry and the development of an on-line learning platform used by all dental education providers and NHS staff in Scotland.

Paul Rea, Unversity of Glasgow

Paul Rea is Professor of Digital and Anatomical Education and an internationally recognised academic specialising in the applications of digital technologies in biomedicine. He is Programme Director for the world-first MSc Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy. He has led multi-institutional projects in implementing technologies for students, patient education and public engagement.

Aileen Bell, Unversity of Glasgow

Aileen Bell is Director of Dental Education and Senior Lecturer/Honorary Consultant in Oral Surgery at the University of Glasgow Dental School. Her Scholarship and Educational Research focuses on curriculum delivery and assessment, and she leads the assessment pod of the Dental School’s Educational Research Group.


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