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UWC VideoConferencing System Bridges The Best Minds In Dentistry

Author: Institutional Advancement: Aidan van den Heever & Nicklaus Kruger

UWC’s Faculty of Dentistry - Africa’s leading dental school - has launched a new state-of-the-art video conferencing system that will allow students to watch live surgeries in class or at home.

UWC is Transforming Oral Health through Video Technology: VideoConferencing system bridges the best minds in Dentistry 

“Universities should lead the way in disruptive innovation. Innovation in its proper form can provide the promise for a better life - a better world - through better education.” 

So said University of the Western Cape (UWC) Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, speaking at the launch of the UWC Faculty of Dentistry’s new state-of-the-art video conferencing system on 22 January 2018 - a system that will allow students to watch live surgeries in class or at home.

The technology - sponsored by MerSETA as part of their ongoing endeavour to help make student learning more effective  - was launched at Tygerberg Hospital: a fitting tribute to the work done by Africa’s leading dental school, this year celebrating its 40th Anniversary. 

The faculty’s vision is to implement interactive video conferencing lecture rooms at the Mitchells Plain Clinic and Tygerberg Hospital. 

Video teaching uses technology to transmit audio, content-rich media and video signals to deliver course content from one physical location to students in another location. 

“Innovation is key,” said Prof Vivienne Lawack, UWC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic.”One of the focus areas UWC has eyed since 2015 is being fit for the digital age - we found that a lot of money was spent on transportation and through this technology this will save a lot of money.” 

This new tech brings the possibility of improved international linkages and collaboration as well - “a new way of thinking for our learning and teaching”.

Sharing Expertise and Information Around the World

The technology lowers travelling costs and places geographically remote and dispersed students directly in the classroom, provided they have an internet connection and a device with a webcam (smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop). 

Therefore, students facing challenges gaining access to physical campuses can participate virtually in classroom communication. It also allows all the lectures to be recorded to be shared widely to all students.

The intervention will help eliminate the cost and time needed for transporting students between Mitchells Plain and Tygerberg for lectures. 

It can also be used to broadcast live surgeries to online audiences, thereby providing rich, real-time learning and collaborative opportunities for viewers.

MerSETA CEO Dr Raymond Patel, who sponsored the technology, said this was the perfect opportunity for MerSETA to invest in the lives of students. 

“This facility provides the platform to create more competent students - and with UWC producing more than 40% of the dentistry students in Africa, that can make a real difference on the continent,” he noted.

A smoother learning path for students translates into a greater benefit for the communities who stand to benefit from their education and expertise.

“We believe in disruption and we are proud to be a partner of the University. I call upon all businesses to do the same - to invest in students and the future.” 

To see how the technology works, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNRURUoQ5OY

For more on the UWC Faculty of Dentistry, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyzWNIRSI90&list=PLnsdD16ZXHnzuC-DHH5z3PaZHpb_dw2Cw

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