Transition of a traditional pharmacology course for dental students to an online delivery format: a pilot project.J Dent Educ. 2011 May; 75(5):633-45.JD
The purpose of this report is to describe the rationale and subsequent transition of a pharmacology course for dental students from a traditional face-to-face lecture format to online delivery using a course management system (CMS). A dental school faculty member with dental and pharmacology degrees and a Ph.D. was asked to serve as course director and to develop and implement a nontraditional course using the Blackboard CMS technology, which houses asynchronous course content materials, study guides, and online resource materials. Respondus software was used to create, manage, and administer weekly online quizzes. A comprehensive midterm and final examination were conducted in a traditional face-to-face setting. A survey was used to capture student satisfaction with this self-directed introductory pharmacology course. Participants were second-year dental students (Classes of 2011 and 2012). There was a survey response rate of 91 percent (179/197). The Likert-style survey questions produced ordinal data from which the median and interquartile range were calculated. On a scale in which 1=Poor, 5=Excellent, the median evaluation for the instructor was 4 (IQR=1.5). On a global question that asked how students rate the course overall, the median score was 4 (IQR=1.0). Results show that a majority of students were positive about the online delivery of the introductory pharmacology course and for many students this was their first online course experience. Resistance to self-directed learning was a theme with those students who rated the course poorly. In a comparison of overall course grades from the previous year, student performance in this course was much stronger. As a result of student feedback seeking more interaction with the course director, it was determined that the next time the course is offered there will be additional opportunities for greater face-to-face time with the instructor. Ongoing evaluation will be important as new teaching technologies emerge and are adopted for teaching and learning.