Conference takeaways from our academics

17 October 2017

Each year our dentistry academics and researchers are encouraged and invited to attend or speak at national and international industry conferences and events. Within the past 12 months alone many of our academics have travelled within Australia and abroad to present and hear about developments within the dental community. Two of them share their experiences here.

2017 American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Annual Session

California, March 2017

In March this year Dr Kimberly Mathieu Coulton. , Academic Coordinator and Head of Bachelor of Oral Health, participated and presented her research at the 2017 American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Annual Session in California. With the theme 'Beyond Boundaries', the aim of the conference was to encourage attendees to step outside the box. "From my first morning to my last day of the conference, I was challenged to question traditional ways of 'doing business' as a dental professional and as an academic," says Dr Coulton.

Commenting on the technical aspects of her experience, Dr Coulton explains: "As a result of the mobile application and a personal online planner, my daily schedule was at my fingertips, as [was] information about speakers, sessions, exhibits and even a messaging system for conference updates and continuing professional development (CPD) certificates. As a result of this digitisation, I could concentrate on absorbing knowledge, networking and catching up with colleagues rather than shuffling through programs and other papers."

The conference included a session called 'Learning and Teaching with Emerging Technologies and Informatics', which comprised a series of short talks on more than 20 different innovative teaching tools relating to technology and informatics. "I must admit, I entered the room with scepticism," Dr Coulton says, "but I left the session full of creative ideas I knew would invigorate my teaching and connect with today's tech-savvy students."

As part of the same session, participants heard from astronaut Dr Mae Jemison, the first woman of colour to enter space. Commenting on Dr Jemison's presentation, Dr Coulton says, "Using her experience as a NASA astronaut, Dr Jemison challenged attendees to pursue their potential by thinking laterally, making use of untapped resources and focusing on the exchange of ideas. I left understanding that my role as an academic is not to deliver information but rather, through transformational learning experiences, to guide students to learning."

International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Conference

Los Angeles, October 2016

Cathryn Forsyth, Lecturer and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lead Associate Director Health Education, attended and presented at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Conference late last year.

The conference theme was 'Storytelling', with keynote speakers discussing how a learning space tells a story, how academics can engage millennial students, and how innovative teaching strategies can test traditional boundaries in higher education, among other topics.

Forsyth says the conference sessions "tantalised the higher-educational taste buds", and that "conversations over meals were the most interesting [because] they encouraged academics to think outside the box and collaborate in new and meaningful ways".
She adds: "We developed stories of teaching and learning, considering the pedagogy of the people in the room and used visual logic as a thought structure for framing stories."

International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Conference

San Francisco, March 2017

Earlier this year Cathryn Forsyth also attended and presented at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Conference, joining dental and oral health academics from all over the world to collaborate in various areas of dental research.

Forsyth's presentation focused on developing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competence in dentistry and oral health higher education.
"Indigenous people worldwide experience higher rates of poor oral health," she explains. "Cultural competence of dental practitioners is increasingly being recognised as fundamental to health care and quality of life in addressing these health disparities. "The need for tertiary institutions to incorporate Indigenous culture and knowledge more widely into the curricula to improve educational outcomes for Indigenous peoples and to increase cultural competence for all students has been recognised," she adds.

The original article can be found here.