It's Academic

April 1, 2009
Pedagogy, as defined by, is the art and science of being a teacher.

by Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH
[email protected]

Pedagogy, as defined by, is the art and science of being a teacher. Pedagogy refers to any number of instructional methods and educational principles. Andragogy is the technique used to teach adults. As dental hygiene professionals, we are educators of both children and adults. The techniques used to educate children differ greatly from those for adults.

Kristy Menage Bernie, RDH, BS, RYT, has developed a hands-on workshop called “It's Academic – Let's Present It” that helps dental professionals understand these differences. Traditional education focuses on lecturing, where the teacher is all-knowing and the student absorbs information. Today, instruction is geared toward more experiential learning, which increases the student's knowledge through application-based learning.

Kristy developed “It's Academic” to incorporate the latest technologies with the science of learning. Her workshop is geared primarily to those involved in dental, dental hygiene, or dental assisting education, continuing education facilitators, and corporate educational teams. Participants vary from dental hygiene educators, to international speakers, to those investigating their opportunities in either venue.

The unique hands-on and experiential environment limits the number of participants. Participants bring their own computers so they can explore and use the many facets of PowerPoint, Word, and Acrobat programs. All activities are supported by an internationally renowned faculty. Previous participants say that the value of the experience well exceeds the costs, since participants leave the workshop able to investigate and integrate optimal interactive learning activities.

Kristy is a dental hygiene graduate of the University of Maryland. She became interested in education and presenting CE courses while volunteering at her local component. She joined Scherer Laboratories, the makers of Gel-Kam, who recognized her abilities in sales and marketing.

When she moved to California, Kristy co-founded Educational Designs, Inc. (EDI), the first company to offer consulting services using dental hygiene talent. It focuses on raising awareness of the research surrounding new technology and methods to obtain optimum oral health. EDI has worked with many of the “movers and shakers” in dental hygiene the past 15 years.

Matching up resources

In 2008, Kristy launched “It's Academic.” She admits she is self-taught on many of her skills and resources. Technology has rapidly increased in recent years, and she found that those who sought to increase their knowledge had no resources. Following the principles and research of andragogy, Kristy realized that current educational sessions do not apply newly acquired knowledge. The workshop was born.

Workshop participants receive an attendee, faculty, and partner profile that includes a mini bio and photograph of each participant. Each attendee is also provided with a memory stick full of resources and on-site handouts. The workshop is interactive and incorporates all of the skills participants will need, including using flipcharts, breakout sessions, audience interactive devices, and hands-on activities, all designed to allow attendees to experience the skills they'll need to refine their own presentations.

Kristy's loves are her family, friends (especially her dental hygiene colleagues), cats, yoga, reading, and laughter! She describes herself as intense, loyal, and passionate, and is amazed at the diversity and enthusiasm among hygienists. She is grateful to PennWell Publishing and RDH magazine for their support of “It's Academic.” The next “It's Academic” workshop will be July 10-12 at the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood City, Calif. For more information, contact Kristy at

Author's note: Although I have not participated in “It's Academic,” I obtained my master's in instructional design, which is the practice of creating tools and content to help facilitate learning in the most effective manner, particularly adult learners. “It's Academic” incorporates all of the principles needed to educate the adult learner.