Second life for dental education

J Dent Educ. 2009 Nov;73(11):1260-4.


Dental education strives to balance the use of traditional teaching methods with technologically advanced systems to meet the needs of an ever-expanding curriculum. Establishing distance education technologies is an identified goal of dental education. Technologically adept students desire meaningful and efficient distance education instruction. A majority of preclinical instruction is devoted to acquiring psychomotor skills and methods of patient care delivery, and simulation is a pedagogical instructional tool used for acquisition of preclinical skills. The purpose of this article is to review the technological tool Second Life as a medium for total virtual patient simulation. Second Life demonstrates promise for enhancing current standardized instruction and competency testing and for promoting distance education. As an emerging technological tool, Second Life is valuable as an adjunct to preclinical teaching methods in virtual problem-solving and communication prior to student clinicians' treating patients in the clinical setting and as a resource for continuing dental education for practitioners. Because some degree of consistency exists in the curriculum objectives of preclinical patient care and assessment in dental and dental hygiene education, within the context of this article the term "dental education" refers to both professions of dentistry and dental hygiene.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Dental Hygienists / education
  • Education, Dental / methods*
  • Education, Dental, Continuing / methods
  • Education, Distance / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • United States
  • User-Computer Interface