Dental faculty member named to Apple Distinguished Educators Class of 2013

April 18, 2013

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Dr. R. Todd Watkins Jr. of the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine has been named to the Apple Distinguished Educators Class of 2013.

Representatives of Apple were at the dental school April 17 to recognize Watkins, assistant dean for dental education and informatics. They also presented the school with the Apple Distinguished Program Award.

Apple describes its distinguished educators as “part of a global community of education leaders recognized for doing amazing things with Apple technology in and out of the classroom. They explore new ideas, seek new paths, and embrace new opportunities.” Distinguished educators also advise Apple on integrating technology into learning environments and share their expertise with other teachers and policy makers.

“Dr. Watkins has a unique ability to visualize and implement education for the current generation of professional students,” said Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine. “All of the technologies that the ECU School of Dental Medicine has implemented and will implement focus on the mission of the program. It is truly innovation with purpose.”

Apple computers and mobile devices are the primary computer technology used at the dental school. Dental students, faculty and staff members use Apple laptops, iPhones and iPads for administrative work, teaching and communicating.

At ECU, Watkins has created customized problem-based learning networks, implemented seven different e-books/journals and has filed a patent for a new competency-based outcomes assessment engine in the form of a grid called XComP (extensible competencies platform), which is being prepared for commercialization through ECU.

“It is an honor to be a member of the Apple Distinguished Educators Program and to be able to collaborate with these thoughtful and progressive educators,” Watkins said. “I have had an interesting career, balancing academic program development with corporate product development. I wish to use this opportunity to help develop the next generation of technology tools and educational strategies.”

Watkins, a native of Gastonia, has a bachelor’s and dental degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed an advanced education in general dentistry residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and also served on the faculty there. His work in designing instructional software led to the creation of VitalSource, which develops electronic textbooks and other educational technology.

He is a member of the American Dental Education Association and the American Medical Informatics Association.

In January, the School of Dental Medicine was named an Apple Distinguished Program for 2012-2013 for the innovative implementation of technology in all aspects of its instructional, problem-solving and clinical education programs.