By Billie Lunt, Dental Hygiene Professor at NHTI
The pandemic shifted my entire perspective on teaching, engaging, and creating community with students. At the beginning, I was hopeful and focused on learning new technologies that would connect students to their learning environments even when we could not meet in person. But, like many others, it didn’t take long to find myself lost on a computer screen talking to myself (or so it felt).
The experience of teaching over Zoom lacked the energy and vibe of the classroom setting. Students rely on faculty to have the answers, and for the first time, we didn’t know what to tell them with regards to the technology keeping us connected. My most common answer was, “I am not sure.” This level of uncertainty made me stressed and anxious, and I began to question if teaching was right for me. If I was feeling this way, I can only imagine what the students were feeling.
We were all faced with a mountain of challenges, and I wanted to solve the issue of providing students with additional resources that can be accessed safely in their own environment. This lead me to an epiphany: What if I created a podcast specifically tailored for NHTI’s Dental Hygiene students? Many of our students commute to NHTI an average of 20-30 minutes each way. As we moved back to a hybrid format, why not take advantage of that commute time and record a podcast for students? It would provide them additional content in a safe way, and they could have access to personal 20-minute tutoring sessions related to their coursework. And with our students in mind, the Happy Flosser was born!
The best part: The Happy Flosser podcast really resonated with students, and they started listening! Students reached out and asked for more content on specific topics, and they asked lots of questions. They started learning again and moving forward on their career paths. The podcast provided them with additional support for content review on their own schedule, and they could access the information anytime and anywhere.
The idea of meeting the needs of students compelled me to continue creating content. I committed to publishing one episode per week. Many students have told me that some episodes are their favorite and they listen to them several times. Faculty began to tune in and provide supportive content and ideas. The podcast now provides calibration content for faculty and creates support for our program and students.
Interested students and faculty members can download the Happy Flosser podcast on Spotify.
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Billie Lunt is a professor of Dental Hygiene at NHTI. The Happy Flosser podcast, which boasts more than 60 episodes and thousands of listeners, is her creation. Though used by staff members of the NHTI Dental Hygiene Department, the podcast is not affiliated with NHTI.