From Studio D1-60: Gonzaga and Martin
In March 2020, when much of the world shut down, educators faced new challenges. How would they deliver impactful lectures to residents, students and colleagues from afar? Software like Canvas, Zoom and Microsoft Teams became household words overnight and while these platforms provided adequate replacements for in-person interactions, standard laptop cameras and computer microphones left something to be desired for William C. Martin, D.M.D., M.S., FACP, and Luiz H. Gonzaga, D.D.S., M.S.
Martin, a clinical professor, and Gonzaga, a clinical assistant professor, are typically very busy juggling patient care in the UF Center for Implant Dentistry and delivering lectures for UF College of Dentistry oral and maxillofacial residents. But the pace of patient care slowed for several months under an order from Florida’s governor to deliver only emergency care at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving them with some time to focus on solving the challenges of moving several weekly in-person lectures to virtual platforms accessible for all UFCD residents, and anyone else interested in attending.
They love all things tech and digital, so Martin and Gonzaga dove into the world of online learning and drew inspiration from an unlikely source: online gamers.
“My son likes gaming and I noticed he’d started watching online gamers playing, rather than playing himself. I thought it was an odd way to spend his time until he explained that he learned a lot about how to play from watching,” Martin said.
Martin’s interest was piqued. He watched how gamers delivered lessons, using multiple cameras and other sophisticated equipment to elevate the quality of their content. He and Gonzaga quickly developed a list of equipment they wanted but, with the whole world moving to online communication, “Everything we wanted was sold out.”
Fortunately, they were able to cobble together most of what they wanted from their personal technical arsenals, took over a conference room and created a media studio in the UF Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. The room has three cameras, a large ring light and other additional lights, a green screen, and more.
“We gave special attention to the items and books in the bookshelf behind us, from the books displayed, to the knick knacks and obligatory UF and UFCD swag. We left nothing to chance,” Gonzaga laughed.
They were worried about whether residents and other attendees were getting the full benefit from the lectures, worried about a deficit of “connecting” because of the move to a virtual delivery, so the duo became a package deal.
“Usually we lecture alone but we realized that lecturing together helped fill the void created by not having an in-person audience. We were able to have some fun and make our lectures a little more dynamic with an ability to bounce off of one another,” Gonzaga said.
And they worked quickly. While some dental schools were still scrambling to adjust to the work and study from home requirements, Gonzaga and Martin launched their online lecture series on March 24, 2020 and, because the implant dentistry world is fairly small and very connected, the educational duo quickly gained a national and international audience.
Shortly after launching their lectures, colleagues at other dental schools asked if Martin and Gonzaga could provide online content for their dental residents, so Martin and Gonzaga invited them to join their lectures. A weekly UF Dental Implant Literature Review intended for UF graduate prosthodontics and periodontics residents was joined by UF prosthodontic residents from schools in Boston, Texas and Brazil. A weekly UF dental implant course for UF oral and maxillofacial residents was joined by UF prosthodontics and periodontology residents, as well residents from the Veteran’s Administration, and dental schools in Indiana, Boston, Texas and Brazil. A year later, many are still attending.
Gonzaga and Martin also delivered online guest lectures for dental residents at the University of North Carolina, New York University, New York University at Buffalo, and Harvard University in Boston.
“We’re also the directors of the North Florida International Team for Implantology, or ITI, Study Club. After we converted our study club’s meeting to a virtual format, ITI shared information internationally and people from across the world, as far as Greece, joined our sessions. It has truly been an international experience,” Gonzaga said.
Gonzaga added that he and Martin were invited as speakers for more than 20 ITI study clubs in the U.S., Canada and Brazil, and for national and international meetings for the American Prosthodontic Society, American College of Prosthodontics, Academy of Osseointegration, ITI, the Straumann Company, as well as state and national dental society meetings.
Now that patient demand has returned to normal after the pause on elective oral health appointments was lifted, Gonzaga and Martin don’t have as much time to devote to virtual learning, although they are still using the conference-room studio and are not looking forward to the day when they have to dismantle the studio for conference room needs.
“It was a fun project for us but, more importantly, we hope it helped bridge a gap for our residents and profession while showcasing the strengths of our college and UF,” Martin said.