Buckminster Fuller in his book ‘Critical Path’ created the knowledge doubling curve and observed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Different types of knowledge have different rates of growth: knowledge related to nanotechnology is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. According to IBM, the internet will make the doubling of knowledge possible every 12 hours. While reading this passage, it was felt that such a thing is impossible. But the Covid-19 pandemic has made everyone to believe that it is really happening. The knowledge explosion leaves the practitioners of clinical dentistry in a confused state. For the last few months dental practice has come to a grinding halt and educational institutions had to suspend or close down the academic programmes either fully or partially. Dental colleges on one hand, have to manage the increasing anxiety among students, faculty, and patients and on the other hand educate and enforce the need to flatten the curve of the pandemic and avoid the large influx of patients.
Teachers had to experience the worst scenario because they had to adapt to remote teaching learning methods. Most of the didactic classes have been converted to Zoom and WebEx platforms the effectiveness of which is yet to be evaluated. The biggest challenge has been to postpone clinical sessions involving direct patient care, which is a key and essential component of the dental curriculum. The worst suffering is experienced in the assessment sector. It is critical to design an assessment method that includes knowledge, skills and attitude needed to be a competent dentist. One solution could be to use Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) combined with a written examination.
Technology has enabled our teachers to easily adapt to online teaching methods though it involves a learning curve. We do not have time to decide on whether synchronous or asynchronous method has to be chosen. Synchronous teaching is online or distance education that happens in real time, whereas asynchronous learning occurs through online channels without real-time interaction. Didactic classes are now enhanced with Voice Thread (VT) which is an interactive collaboration and sharing tool that enables students to build online presentations by adding images, documents and videos, and other media to which other users can add comments for discussion. Preclinical didactic and case-based exercises could be delivered as videos with embedded quiz questions using a platform such as EDpuzzle. EDpuzzle is an innovative tool that converts video watching into a student-centered activity by increasing student engagement. It is a web-based interactive video and formative assessment tool that lets users crop existing online videos and add content to target specific learning objectives. These have to be popularized in India because virtual teaching is here to stay even after the Covid times. No doubt this pandemic has created a panic situation but we should not forget that it provides a simultaneous panacea of opportunities.