The Relationship School – the future of virtual faculty, real time hands-on training

First you need to read this! Double clickez-vous – what would I do without David Brooks?

I’ve been privileged to learn online since the late 90’s. The focus was on my particular specialty, but it morphed into all areas of dentistry and most recently, into implants. The abundance of platforms on the Internet continues to explode. Access to articles through and endless webinars, YOUTUBE videos, animations, simulcasts…’s a platform agnostic world when you wish to learn online. In time you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. My obsession with all things APPLE is elemental. The true genius of Steve Jobs was that he understood that if you choose to be hyperconnected, you do so with familiarity and all the platforms share the content ubiquitously, ergo, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and the magical iMac and the laptops, the APPS and the brilliance of the iCLOUD. He took what others used, innovated, iterated and made it all “family”.

The lesson to be learned from his genius was that the same concept should hold in any area of learning. To ensure that dental students learn to critically think and comprehensively learn to facilitate optimal treatment planning and execution, schools are attempting to ensure that one student walks the case form Alpha to Omega. The same principle should hold in online learning. Virtual faculty and real time hands-on. Virtual faculty is nothing more than a nucleus of educators who nurture and develop others to become a part of their faculty through online discussion forums. Using an endless array of case reporting, streaming videos, webinars, shared articles et al, the “curriculum” that builds has a common “backbone”. To encourage innovation, everyone is enabled and empowered to leave the nest, but what they come back to is familiar and the others who share the nesting space are known, their skill levels appreciated.

As dentistry moves forward into the advanced technology age, it is an imperative that it keep a common thread, a home base. Shared materials, resources and clinical results set standards, you develop a sense of true evidenced-based not eminence-based standard of care. Where ever you fly, you know that a simple electronic device, keeps you in touch for updates, trouble shooting and of course and moreover for camaraderie. Those who haven’t experienced the “love” shared 24/7/365 by folks with common interests can never see how this works. The reason being, they’ve never experienced it and like most things that shake a status quo, it is decried. The true advantage comes in educational arenas where you choose to learn the hands-on skill set. Where ever you are in the world taking the training, there is connection….there is familiarity. This more than anything means that whatever you learn, come Monday, you have a family to assist you on the next phase of your voyage. The teachers accompany you along that journey, they are colleagues, mentors and friends.

The day must come when that collaborative educational vision is seen. For some it is pontificatory and the perception is that the dreamer is clueless and doesn’t understand how “institutions” work. God bless the dreamer, because our institutions are moribund and are failing the next generation. They understand that in the world of learning in this moment, there are no classrooms or buildings, the “institution” is a hand held device, a computer and the clouds that are replete with endlessly renewed content. And yet, there is always a place you can call home. It is where ever the IP address of an Internet takes you to back from whence it all began.