Dental undergraduate expectations and opinions of Web-based courseware to supplement traditional teaching methods

R Eynon, G Perryer, A D Walmsley
European Journal of Dental Education: Official Journal of the Association for Dental Education in Europe 2003, 7 (3): 103-10
The rapid growth of Internet for the delivery of information has enabled teaching materials to be placed on websites allowing student access to course material. It is the aim of this paper to evaluate a cohort of dental undergraduate students who have used Web-based courseware in prosthetic dentistry for a semester. A questionnaire was distributed to clinical undergraduate students prior to the use of the prosthetics course to determine their experience of using the World Wide Web (WWW) and their expectations of an online course. A second questionnaire was distributed at the end of 6 months which asked about their usage and opinions of the prosthetics Web-based courseware. The main concerns raised at the beginning of the course were related to computer access, the ability to use computers, the time involved and their conception that the e-course would be an additional burden. The main potential benefits were perceived to be convenience, availability of information and the ability to reinforce or catch up on aspects of the module they did not understand or had missed. Feedback at the end of the year showed that most students had accessed the Web-based courseware site at least once a month and, generally, their comments were favourable, dispelling some of the initial perceived fears. They felt that the website was a quick and convenient way to access information and was a good additional resource. Access to the site and printing information were the main problems raised by the students who had to use a shared cluster. In conclusion, Web-based courseware was felt to be a useful additional resource for students. However, this research showed that sufficient computers and printers must be available for such a resource to become an integrated part of the dental course.

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