~On the road to becoming an awesome dental hygiene educator~
I'm a dental hygiene instructor in San Antonio, TX. I want to share my passion for dental hygiene with other hygienists and create a place where hygiene educators can meet and collaborate.
I received my A.S. Dental Hygiene from Southwestern College in San Diego, CA in 2003.
After ten years of clinical practice, I returned to school to earn my B.S. Dental Hygiene from Northern Arizona University. I'm currently working on my Master's in Education with an emphasis in Digital Learning and Leading from Lamar University in Texas.
I have an amazing husband and three kids: Matt (15), Chloe (10), and Silas (21 months). When I'm not fighting plaque and gingivitis, I like to hang out with friends and family (a little BBQ here and there), garden, play with the kiddos, travel, and remodel our house (a never-ending project!). I ride horses, speak a little French, and I'm a great shot with a bow and arrow (must be the Cherokee in me!). Most of all, I love to learn and share ideas. Thanks for stopping by!
Everything we have done in this program has moved us to make changes wherever we are. Every course was a little piece of the puzzle, the big picture. Now that we’re at the finish line (for now), I can see how everything fits together and I am so grateful that our amazing teachers (learning facilitators) took the time to guide us using the COVA model and CSLE. When I first started this program, I definitely considered myself a digital immigrant. I had very limited technology skills, but I was determined to learn because I knew that my students needed me to speak their language. I struggled A LOT in the beginning, just trying to navigate the technology I was using for my projects. I cried a few times trying to figure out how to use WordPress, but once I got the hang of it, it became almost second nature.
My struggles in the beginning really helped me to learn how to learn. I became good at looking for videos that would help me, or PLNs with good information. I think if I had been given instructions, I wouldn’t have learned how to find instructions on my own. Self-directed learning is so important because it’s active, not passive. Every course has given us the ability to find information we need to continue growing and learning.
I am so proud of my innovation plan. I love that even though we all took the same courses, our innovation plans and ePortfolios are completely different creations. We learned how to research our plan, design it, and how to persuade leaders to let us implement our plans in our own organizations. That is completely authentic work that is unique to each individual.
As a dental hygienist, I had no background in education, even though I have been teaching for three years. My eyes have been opened to how students learn best, and how to create the environment needed for learning. I learned how to design a class using Fink’s 3 column table and UbD. I created an online Radiology course that I am truly proud of. I plan on using it for my innovation plan on blended learning.
Most of all, I am really proud of my e-Portfolio. It’s a unique creation that I can continue to use and reflect on what I’m working on and how to keep improving. It’s a tool that has given me a voice that I thought I didn’t have- one that I was afraid to use at first!
I’m amazed that I am already here at the end of this program, about to walk the stage on Saturday. There were so many times I wanted to give up because of the craziness of my schedule and life, but I’m so glad I kept going. I can truly say I learned more in the last year and a half than I ever have in such a short period of time. Here is a visual representation of my journey in the Digital Learning and Leading program:
I am feeling very courageous right now, not afraid of change at all. Like we were taught in this program, we can ride the wave of change or react to it as it comes. Do I want to lead the change? Absolutely. I feel armed with the knowledge and determination that is needed to move forward with my innovation plan, and confident that I can keep generating new innovation plans as time goes on. My first goal is a blended Radiology course, then more courses will follow. When others see what I’m doing, I can train them to blend their courses too. My next innovation plan will be e-Portfolios for the DH program. I’ll have to keep in mind the importance of COVA and CSLE to ensure the success of my learners.
What worked? I switched my innovation plan early on in the program because my first one was too big. I wanted to initiate collaborative learning among all the medical and dental programs in our college, hoping to create more healthcare provider collaboration in the real world setting. I decided an innovation plan like that needs more time. I wanted smaller successes to pave the way to the bigger ideas. I have learned that I am stronger than I thought, but I had a lot to learn if I wanted my students to really benefit from my courses. I thought I was a pretty good instructor, but I still have lots of work to do. Even though we have learned (and lived) COVA and CSLE, those changes can’t always happen overnight. It takes a team of educators who are willing to make those changes. I can’t do it alone. But if I can change one class at a time, it will lead to big gains in learning in the long run.
Everything I have learned so far in the EDLD program has contributed to the success of my innovation project. Originally, my innovation project involved moving toward a more collaborative model of healthcare, where students from different disciplines learn to communicate with each other more frequently and better. The purpose of this model is to encourage collaboration among healthcare professionals so that they will see healthcare as a team effort that will result in better care for our patients, and possibly even save lives. Although this goal is still in my mind, I am putting it on the backburner for now because somewhere around September of last year, I changed my project to one that I fell in love with: blended learning.
As of right now, my plan to implement blended learning is on a positive trajectory. My program director loves the idea: I showed her my work so far, and she is completely on-board with letting me try it in my Dental Radiology class. Next, I will have to convince our Academic Dean. The problem is, we don’t have one right now. Whoever takes on that role will be the deciding factor.
I’m hoping the new Dean will be open to trying new things and will have that growth mindset that Dr. Harapnuik instilled in us.
After doing so much research on blended learning, I decided that it would be ideal for a program like ours, which is an accelerated one. We have such limited time in the classroom, that we spend so much time just going over the concepts, teaching the foundational knowledge. The students rarely have the ability to take that knowledge and go deeper with it. A blended learning model would help students learn that information in an online classroom at their own pace, so when they get to the brick-and-mortar classroom, we can do projects, case studies and group work that moves their understanding further towards the top of the learning pyramid.
I will always design my classes in a way that creates a significant learning environment. We learned how to do that in EDLD 5313, using UBD and Fink’s 3 column table. This is how I created my blended (half online, half traditional classroom) Radiology course, and I might be a little biased, but it’s absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait to implement it!
In EDLD 5304, we learned how to communicate our ideas more effectively, how to have those crucial conversations. This is where I need to do more work. It was easy talking to my Program Director about my ideas because she is very tech-savvy and open to change. Now that we will have a new Academic Dean, I’ll need to revisit what we learned in that course so I can come to the table prepared and confident in what I am proposing.
After I launch and test my blended Radiology course, the next step would be to share it with the rest of our school. We learned in EDLD 5388 about how to host successful professional development, the kind that consists of more than just a one-day sit-and-get style of PD. In order for it to be successful, it needs to be on-going, hands-on, and adapted to that instructor’s classroom. I would love to help others implement blended learning in their classrooms as well.
Blended learning won’t be my only innovation project. My next one will be incorporating e-Portfolios into the entire dental hygiene program. I saw how much of an impact it had on my own learning, and I want to give that gift to my students as well. Just as I did with blended learning, I will know how to look at the research and figure out how to incorporate e-Portfolios into a program like ours. I will take similar steps in research, planning, executing, reflecting and evaluating. I am hoping that blended learning will be a huge success and will pave the way for more growth and change. I owe it to my students and the future of our profession.
Clayton Christensen Institute. (2014, Dec 22). What is Blended Learning? Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSPgvwZMdS8
I’m not sure if I can pinpoint an exact time when I first realized that this program had a different approach than what I was used to. I think I accepted it as a different type of program at first not because of the COVA approach, but because I was used to science and health courses that are traditionally very black-and-white with the delivery of the information, and the assignments that were somewhat narrow in focus. I was wrong in that assumption. The COVA approach is just as applicable to those types of courses, maybe even more so. I just wasn’t accustomed to it yet. Dr. Thibodeaux was my first instructor, and she was amazing. I kept thinking to myself though, “what is she looking for in this assignment?”. I wanted stricter parameters and guidelines. The rubrics were very broad, and I felt like I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Here’s a link to my first e-Portfolio post in this program. I also thought we would be taught how to use the technology, but I was wrong there again. Our instructors were there to guide us, but we had the choice to decide what we wanted to learn about. It forced me to learn how to learn.
This style of learning was challenging at first because I was so used to just being given an assignment with exact directions on how to complete it. Looking back, this approach doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t allow ownership of the final product. How can someone truly be motivated to learn about a topic if they don’t have an interest in it? And if you’re following a recipe for an assignment without any creative input, the end result will be so-so. Everyone knows that the best chefs are the ones who deviate from a recipe and put their own flair into it, try new combinations, and cook things they actually would want to eat! It’s the same with learning!
Initially, I felt very overwhelmed in this program. As I completed more and more projects that were authentic to my interests, it started making sense. I learned to take the readings and videos from class and think about how to apply them to my dental hygiene courses. I also became better at researching what I needed to, and better at reflecting on my work. That has also been difficult for me: reflecting. It’s so crucial to do that though because if you don’t reflect on your work, how can you learn from mistakes and make it better the next time?
My learning philosophywas completed early in the program, and although it was pretty good, my learning philosophy has changed based on experiencing the COVA approach. At the time when I created my learning philosophy, I hadn’t connected the dots yet. I didn’t know how important it was to give students choice, ownership, voice, and authentic assignments. I didn’t yet understand that an instructor should be more of a facilitator of learning, not the “sage on the stage”. I didn’t know how to create significant learning environments. Now I understand these things, and how to create significant learning environments where students can learn with the COVA approach, in a significant learning environment and be proud of what they can accomplish.
One of the most amazing parts of this program was completing an e-Portfolio. At first, I was nervous about putting all my work out there for anyone to see. Now, I am proud of what I have achieved: it’s unique to my circumstances, it’s my own creation, and it’s a nice compilation of my work. It’s something I can continue to use to showcase my work and help and inspire others. No one else has an e-Portfolio like mine, and that is the result of the COVA approach. I think it would be a great addition to our dental hygiene program, to let students reflect on what they are learning and to build an online journey that they can show future employers!
In my classes, I have already started using the COVA approach with my students. I am giving them more choices in how to complete assignments and what they want to research. In my Oral Pathology class, the students have a project to complete, and I have changed the parameters of the assignment. Now, they get to pick a lesion or disease of their choice, and present it in either a paper, verbal presentation, or use digital media of their choice. Right now, most of them are choosing a paper because that is what they are used to. I’m planning on encouraging them more to try digital media so they can get more creative. In all my classes, we are spending more time in group discussion and reflection. I am using Fink’s 3-column table to design classes that create significant learning environments. I also have a blended learning version of my Dental Radiologycourse that I plan on implementing as soon as it’s approved by the Academic Dean.
I think preparing students for COVA and CSLE can be done in stages. If their first courses incorporate 50% traditional and 50 % COVA, maybe it won’t be as overwhelming. Then, we can let them see for themselves how much more they enjoy having choice, ownership, voice, and authentic assignments. I would love to have them create their own e-Portfolios throughout the program as well. I know I need to focus on one thing at a time, so for now, I want to start with blended learning as my innovation project. My next innovation project will be e-Portfolios for the students.
This has been such an exciting journey for me. I am so proud of all the work I have done; it has been work that I can implement in my own organization, and I am not afraid to work toward change. I can honestly say that the work I have done in this program has been more meaningful than the work I did at any other school. If I’ve had such a positive experience, why wouldn’t I want the same for my students?
According to Ribble (2015), there are three categories of digital citizenship that are further broken down into nine elements. Ribble’s categories are: 1. Respect Yourself/ Respect Others, 2. Educate Yourself/ Connect with Others, and 3. Protect Yourself/ Protect Others. The elements that fall into the categories are: 1. Etiquette, Access, and Law; 2. Communication, Literacy, and Commerce; and 3. Rights and Responsibility, Safety (security), and Health and Welfare. Ideally, students would be exposed to an element from each category in rotations, eventually learning all nine elements in order to accomplish an understanding of what it means to be a good digital citizen.
Ribble (2015) explained the nine elements of digital citizenship accordingly:
Respect Yourself/ Respect Others:
o Digital etiquette: when communicating with others, follow proper etiquette
o Digital access: a goal of citizenship is full access for everyone
o Digital law: digital citizens need to respect laws and behave ethically
Educate Yourself/ Connect with Others:
o Digital communication: make good decisions about how and what you communicate online
o Digital literacy: good citizens keep up with changes in technology
o Digital commerce: be aware of what you are purchasing and the legality of those purchases
Protect Yourself/ Protect Others:
o Digital rights and responsibilities: every digital citizen has rights that need to be respected, but those rights are also balanced with responsibilities
o Digital security: digital citizens must be proactive in protecting their information
o Digital health and wellness: digital citizens should take measures to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and psychological issues that can arise from the use of technology
Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship provide a good framework for teaching digital citizenship to students. They are all important, and good digital citizenship encompasses all of them. However, this paper will focus on the element that applies most to students in our dental hygiene program, as it will affect their future success as clinicians.
A dental hygienist is a healthcare professional who is responsible for dental disease prevention, identification of soft and hard tissue oral abnormalities, and the treatment of periodontal diseases. According to Beemsterboer (2017), dental hygienists have a responsibility to uphold several professional traits that society expects from us in order to gain their trust. Beemsterboer’s professional traits for dentals hygienists is as follows:
Honesty and integrity: veracity (truth) in communication with patients, and upholding personal and professional integrity
Caring and compassion: demonstrating empathy when caring for patients
Reliability and responsibility: maintaining sound judgement in all interactions and meeting obligations
Maturity and self-analysis: keeping the needs of others as a priority; regularly assessing skills and making efforts to improve them
Loyalty: keeping promises, protecting and promoting the interests of the profession, your patients, and your practice
Interpersonal communication: developing good relationships with patients and colleagues by listening and exchanging information properly
Respect for others: caring for all individuals with the same high level of commitment
Respect for self: taking care of your own physical and mental health
All of these professional traits need to be exercised if a dental hygienist is to be considered an upstanding member of the profession. Of Ribble’s nine elements, the one that will help hygienists maintain professionalism the most in an online environment is digital communication. Hygienists need to make good decisions about what to post online, such as on social media forums and how they are communicating online. This will affect how patients, colleagues, employers, and society in general will view a hygienist and the dental hygiene profession in general. Most social media platforms include options to post one’s occupation, so when a hygienist exercises bad decisions in regards to digital communication, it reflects on not only that hygienist, but the entire profession.
In term five of our dental hygiene program, students take a course in ethics and law. Although the text book addresses social media issues, it does not address it with the detail needed for a thorough understanding of what it means to communicate responsibly online. As of 2017, 24% of internet users are on 2 social media sites, and there are 2.8 billion active social media users worldwide (Hutchinson, 2017). Working with college students who are likely to be using social media, there is a huge potential audience that could be reading what they are communicating online. As educators, it is our responsibility to inform them about their responsibilities to communicate wisely online.
One of the lessons that could be incorporated into their ethics and law class would be an activity to ensure that the students’ social media profiles appear professional and that their posts are communicating messages that are in line with Beemsterboer’s traits of dental hygiene professionalism. Pictures are a form of non-verbal communication, and they should be tasteful. Students could google themselves (as we did in EDLD 5316), and make sure that everything that comes up in connection with their name is professional. Hygienists should maintain a professional relationship with patients by not friending patients on their personal social media platforms, or creating professional pages where patients would be welcome to join. It should also be emphasized that while their own posts should communicate professionalism, posts from others should be censored as needed, and groups that one is affiliated with should be weighed carefully. Whatever is on a person’s page, whether posted by that individual or someone else, can be interpreted as communicating that the person is in agreement with what is on their page.
Including an activity where students evaluate and correct the way they are communicating on their social media platforms should help prepare them once they enter the workplace and identify themselves as professional hygienists. Of course, social media platforms are not the only areas where careful online communication is important. Some other online communication areas include e-mails, communicating via video conferencing, chat rooms, instant messaging, comments posted in discussion forums, or a personal website or blog (Savelau, 2009).
A second activity that could be incorporated into their ethics and law class would be for students to identify all the areas where they personally communicate with others online. Their assignment would be to analyze past posts or pictures that they created and decide whether those posts or pictures should remain or not.
As we learned in EDLD 5316, it is not only important to remove negative communication, but also to promote positive communication actively. This could take the form of creating websites for dental hygienists or websites for patients. Students could learn how to create a blog for their patients also.
Teaching students to partake in an active online presence using good communication skills and choices would be a great way for them to practice good digital communication. Hopefully, it would encourage them to contribute to the hygiene community in meaningful ways that would help them grow professionally. There are several websites for dental hygienists with message boards and areas where they can post questions or discuss cases they have encountered. Encouraging the students to join these online organizations, such as Hygienetown, would hopefully be carried into their professional lives as they begin to work in clinical practice.
Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship are detailed guidelines for us to follow and teach in order to practice good citizenship online. This paper highlighted the importance of good digital communication for dental hygiene students as they enter the professional world. As it relates to dental hygiene, all nine are essential to understand and practice. Hopefully by the time the students enter college, they will already have a good understanding of what it means to be a good digital citizen. It is up to us as educators though to ensure that students are learning throughout their educational years about digital citizenship and how to behave in a community that is truly world-wide, and can have devastating consequences if not practiced wisely.
Beemsterboer, Phyllis L. (2017). Ethics and Law in Dental Hygiene, 3rd Ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know (3rd ed.). Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education
What did you learn about digital citizenship? Be specific.
I learned about Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship, which encompassed things I knew internally, but had never really identified specifically. The most important take-away for me was learning about copyright laws and how to make sure that course design is done with those laws in mind. I didn’t know about fair use, so that was really enlightening!
What was your biggest accomplishment in the course?
My biggest accomplishment in this course was probably making the PowToon on how to use a cell phone responsibly.
What challenges did you face in completing this course?
The biggest challenge for me was completing all the reading assignments, videos, and the weekly assignments plus journals and discussion posts. It was just extremely time-consuming!
What was your best work for the course and explain why it was your best. What did you learn by creating it? Be specific.
My best work for the course was probably the paper I wrote in week five because it allowed me to reflect on how I can use digital citizenship in a very tangible way in my own classroom.
What was the one most useful or meaningful thing you learned in this course?
One of the most useful and meaningful things I learned in this course was about fair use and copyright laws. I’m always trying to be careful when using materials for my classes, and I am thankful for the great resources we were provided with.
What have you learned in this course that will help you continue to grow as an educational leader?
Because of the information I learned about copyright laws, I feel I am better prepared to help other instructors ensure they are using educational materials in their classrooms legally and ethically.
What was your favorite aspect of this course? Why?
My favorite aspect of this course was probably making the Powtoon on using cell phones responsibly. I had a lot of fun doing it and it opened my eyes to what I should be discussing more with my 11- year old daughter.
What suggestions would you give other students on ways to get the most out this course?
I would suggest to students that they read through the weekly assignments ahead of time. There are a lot of little assignments within the big assignments. The structure for this course is very different from the previous courses in this program.
If I had more time, I would have researched more information for the case studies. I think I would have answered the questions better.
What will you say, if you have a chance to speak to your friends, about this course?
I will tell them how incredibly important digital citizenship is, and that they should take a course like this one.
This week, our topic is cyberbullying and how to address the issue with children and adolescents. Now that nearly 80% of adolescents regularly use cell phones, cyberbullying is becoming more common. It’s important to acknowledge that most teens will use technology in a responsible manner, but for those who are being bullied, it can have devastating consequences.
One of the problems with cyberbullying is the low incidence of reporting.
Fewer than 25% of victims tell a parent and even fewer (6%) told a teacher. Educational programs geared toward cyberbullying should be done regularly, starting in early elementary school. It is important to emphasize that most kids will use technology in an ethical manner, but if cyberbullying occurs, it should be reported to an adult so they can get help with stopping the bullying.
It is disheartening to know that 52% of young people report being cyberbullied and 1 in 6 have bullied others. Since most of cyberbullying happens outside of school, it can be difficult for teachers to get involved. However, school leaders should take on the ethical responsibility of protecting our youth by creating prevention programs and implementing protocols to help our youth when they report that they have been cyberbullied.
This week’s focus of study was U.S. copyright laws and how as teachers, we need to be aware of how original works can or cannot be used in our classrooms. I think the main lesson gleaned from this week’s readings and videos is that credit needs to be given where credit is due and we need to model good behavior in regards to copyrighted works for our students as well. Fair use is an interesting and useful way to use materials for educational purposes, but there are still rules that need to be followed. Fair use involves using pieces of copyrighted material without permission for “transformative purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work” (Week 3 lecture, 2017). For instance, for educational purposes, clips of a video can be used in a classroom as a way to prompt discussion. However, an entire video cannot be shown to a classroom if it is only for entertainment purposes without permission from the copyright owner.
There are also instances where fair use doesn’t apply: such as copying pages from a workbook and distributing them to students. This is an infringement of copyright because the author of the workbook will lose out on earnings that the workbook would have made if students had been instructed to purchase the workbook instead. Sometimes works fall into public domain, and in that situation, they can be used freely without permission. This pertains to very old works (copyrights are valid from publish-life plus 70 years) and a few other situations.
The best practice when a teacher or student isn’t sure about whether something qualifies for fair use or if something is public domain is to simply ask the author for permission to use their work. They might charge a fee to use it, but it won’t cost as much as a lawsuit and it’s the right thing to do!