The Yellow Pages (remember them?) used a slogan that invited consumers to let their fingers do the walking. In other words, finding the best source for a product or service was made easier.
Today, a new education marketplace, DentalPost EDU, developed by the online job board DentalPost, may be able to do the same when it comes to earning continuing education credits. The Apple Store-style platform enables users to earn CE credits directly from the company’s website.
“We’re building an ecosystem,” explains Tonya Lanthier, RDH, CEO of DentalPost. “One part of our ecosystem has job postings and resumes. The other part is EDU.”
And with it comes the opportunity for both clinical and financial benefits.
DentalPost has partnered, and continues to partner, with educators countrywide who provide the courses listed on the DentalPost EDU platform. DentalPost members log in to view a continuing education marketplace, where they can browse the catalog by title, subject, or keyword to see an overview of each course. Members can then securely purchase a course to take online, begin immediately, or save it for later.
Lanthier explains that EDU seamlessly integrates with an existing CE management tool. So, once a course is completed, it is automatically updated within the user’s DentalPost resume profile. In addition, members receive alerts when CEs are about to expire.
“I believe in helping people,” Lanthier says. “People are busy. They need it to be easy to keep their continuing education up-to-date.”
But, she adds, it’s not about to replace hands-on, face-to-face offered courses.
“There’s nothing that will ever replace hands-on,” Lanthier says. “You can’t automate that and you can’t replace the human element with a robot. But this certainly supplements that for folks who are busy. And this makes it a little bit easier for them to stay current, and to update their skills.”
Studies indicate that distance education enrollment growth is continuing. According to a recent report, “Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States,” the number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course in 2015 grew by 3.9% over the previous year. More than one in four students (28%) now take at least one distance education course. That continues a 13-year growth trend.
Lanthier says that while clinical courses tend to be more hands-on, people learn in different ways.
“You can’t put people in a box,” she says. “This is another choice they have. Some people learn better in person, hands-on, and some learn better online.”
Courses include transcription, which offers assistance for hearing impaired users. Audio functions help those with visual impairments, and on-screen learning allows them to adjust the settings to make text easier to read. Members also receive personalized recommendation for available courses from various industry providers.
“It’s a global platform,” Lanthier adds. “Members can take courses provided by educators from all over the world. We can even change the language if we needed to.”
And, she adds, “We’re not selling anything on DentalPost. We’re trying to provide education, and give people the freedom to take what they want when they want. We’re about giving you information to help improve your skills, and giving members control of their own destiny.”
Clinical and Financial Benefits
The DentalPost EDU courses include a range of topics and content formats, including videos, presentations and handouts. Dental professionals can take the test for their course online from the site or app.
“There are many financial benefits,” Lanthier says. “Members can take the courses any time, and they don’t have to travel somewhere. They can even do it on their time off. And if you stay advanced, you will be more valuable to your employer, and obtain more jobs.”
Courses have been available on the platform for about three months, and thus far have functioned smoothly. And the third part of the ecosystem, which Lanthier says still needs to be built, will enable people to see what courses others are taking.
“We want people to know what everyone else is doing,” she explains.
That’s part of the overall goal.
“EDU is a tool designed to advance your knowledge, keep you on the cutting edge of dentistry, and help you continue to grow both personally and professionally,” Lanthier says. “That’s what it’s all about—a shared community.”