King’s wins for Digital innovation at Times Higher Awards

King’s College London

Last night, King’s won the Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year trophy at the seventeenth annual Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.

student phantom head
Simulation facilities

The THE Awards are the biggest celebration in the Higher Education calendar, attracting hundreds of entries from individuals, teams and institutions from all corners of the UK and, for the first time this year, Ireland too.

The team from King’s Faculty of Dentistry, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences won the award for innovatively using simulation and the latest technologies to help continue providing world-class education and training in the field of dentistry when the pandemic hit.

Using advanced “phantom-head” dental simulators and virtual haptic machines that simulate physical touch, King’s Faculty of Dentistry, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences became the first in the world to integrate clinical digital learning across all its facilities. This enabled King’s to graduate fully qualified dentists when other UK dental schools had to repeat the academic year.

The university connected dental operating chairs at Guy’s Hospital with its simulation facilities, blending virtual reality with training on real human teeth. More than 850 dentistry students have already benefited from the digital clinical workflow, practising Covid-secure dental surgery using the simulators, with the resulting scans carefully analysed before they practise on real patients.

These innovations enabled King’s and its partner NHS trusts to continue providing essential oral care across south London throughout the pandemic, and have future-proofed its training of oral care clinicians. The initiative is informing practice at other dental training institutions and trusts.

This is wonderful recognition of the huge team effort that went into the innovative and integrated use of technology to support student learning and enable their timely progression into the healthcare workforce.– Professor Michael Escudier, Interim Executive Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences

THE editor John Gill said: “The Times Higher Education Awards have been recognising outstanding achievements in UK higher education for the best part of two decades, but never before have they shone a light on the level of effort and creativity that was demanded of universities throughout the 2019-20 academic year. The response required, and delivered, in the face of a global pandemic was unique, and many of the awards submissions reflected those unprecedented circumstances.

“But universities’ great strength is not just that they respond to circumstances, but that they also provide a level of constancy at times of uncertainty and change. 2019-20 was not just a year of pandemic disruption, it was also a year in which incredible achievements were made in all the areas you would hope and expect: world-changing research, brilliant learning and teaching, international and industrial engagement, and the full gamut of activities that run through universities like words through a stick of rock.”

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