Online Originals: ECU School of Dental Medicine’s cutting edge technology gains attention from Apple, IBM

Online Originals

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) The East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for the fifth time over a 10 year period.

In addition to their innovative approach to teaching dentists, the focus of this award is for creating innovative assessment and analytics technologies that can be used in any educational program.

“The Apple Distinguished Program/School award is given to people that are using technologies to replace current practices with next practices,” said Dr. Todd Watkins, Assistant Dean for Dental Education and Informatics at the School of Dental Medicine.

“We don’t settle for best practices, we create the next practices.”

dr. todd watkins

The assessment and accreditation technologies have earned five patent applications and strategic partnerships with private corporations, primarily IBM.

“Essentially Apple told IBM that we were doing some pretty interesting and advanced things. They looked at our patents and approached us to see if we were interested in integrating with IBM Watson, with the cloud services and what’s called the IBM Garage to make a commercial version of what we’re doing,” said Dr. Watkins.

The technology is called eXtensible Competencies Platform (XComP) and it helps schools assess outcomes by generating cumulative, real-time evaluations of students, faculty, curricula, and programs.

Here’s an example of what XComP looks like and Dr. Watkins explaining the technology.

There are two technologies in play.

One is a data aggregation technology that takes data from exam systems, rubric systems, and clinical systems to show competencies.

“What it allows us to do is live tracking of student performance not based on courses, but based on individual areas of competence,” said Dr. Watkins.

The second technology is a set of advanced grading tools that allow for analysis of student performance, faculty, how they grade as well as self-assessment of student performance.

The bottom line is that educators can help students before it’s too late.

“It allows us to find out a specific student’s weakness on a specific day,” said Dr. Watkins. “Instead of us not knowing that for three years while they’re getting ready for the boards, we can identify that early and make a correction immediately.”

Next month, IBM will be introducing XComP to health science educators as the initial focus of a larger educational ecosystem.

Here, Dr. Watkins describes the educational ecosystem.

Many universities are trying to implement XComP, but it can be used across all levels of international education.

“We’re rolling it out first with dental, medical, nursing, trying to figure out those. But we also have systems in place for engineering, undergraduate and K-12,” said Dr. Watkins.

Part of the Apple program is figuring out how these technologies can make K-12 education better in order to make higher education better in order to make professional education better.

“Our mission is to find ways that under-represented minorities and under-served rural areas, their schools can be as strong a feeder as ones in the urban areas.”

Dr. todd watkins

ECU licensed the technologies to XComP Analytics Inc. last June.

To date, neither ECU nor Dr. Watkins has made any money off of the licensing of the technologies, but any future possible financial benefits are managed under the ECU Office of Technology Transfer and the ECU Office of Research Integrity and Compliance.

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