Smiles all around

Originally published in MOREnetworking Vol. 2 No. 1, Sept. 2004

Taking distance delivery of dental hygiene courses to a new level: an interview with UMKC’s Director of the Division of Dental Hygiene, Dr. Cindy Amyot

When did your distance program begin?

While serving as director of the graduate and degree completion programs from 1999-2002, I began hearing from prospective students across the country asking if UMKC had a distance education program for their degree completion and master’s programs. I began researching the possibilities and developed a blended approach to distance learning that includes both synchronous and asynchronous components.

We began piloting the degree completion program during the 1999-2000 academic year, and began our pilot for the graduate program during the 2000-01 academic year. As a result of the positive feedback and student outcomes, we have continued to grow these programs.

How does your distance learning program work?

Currently we offer 10 courses through distance technology. Our model for distance­ education does require that the students come to campus during their tenure in the program. This allows the students to feel a part of the university. For the first year, they come on campus once each semester. After the first year, the graduate students work with their research committee and between the student and the chair of their committee, they determine the need for on-site visits. Most of our coursework is assignment-based as opposed to traditional testing. These are advanced students, so projects in which they are producing real-life work represent the bulk of their work.

BlackBoard® houses the learning modules and serves as the asynchronous com­muni­cation tool. Centra®, an e-Conferencing tool hosted by MOREnet, serves as the synchronous distance communication.

How did you get started with Centra?

We were fortunate to link up with David Anstaett and Tom Brenneman at UMKC, who introduced us to the Centra technology. I piloted the technology last fall and fully adopted it for the winter 2004 semester. Now that I use it in my course, the students have demanded that ALL faculty in the division use the technology. The advantages are many. Students value the ability to hear and see one another.

What is the value of this program to your organization and others/peers? Are there any statistics or data demonstrating the success? Any anecdotal success stories?

I recently received a national award from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association­ (ADHA) in recognition of my efforts in developing these distance programs­. I was proud and honored to be named one of the 2004 Pfizer/ADHA Excellence­ in Dental Hygiene Award winners at the ADHA annual conference in June in Dallas, Texas. It is clear that our national organization values these distance programs.

We are currently in year two of a three-year research study looking at student percep­tions of distance education. Preliminary data indicates that students are extremely­ satisfied with their educational experience via distance technology. In fact, the general consensus is that it has been a richer experience than traditional coursework.

Centra absolutely put us over the top in terms of quality of instruction in a distance­ delivery mode. Now my students don’t want to be without it!

To learn more about MOREnet’s e-Conferencing service powered by Centra, visit

hendersonl | Wednesday, September 1, 2004 | |


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