Dental Informatics Seminar

Course #: 2202 Year: postgrad. Semester: fall/spring
Director: Dr. Titus Schleyer Phone: 8-8886 Credits: 3
Office: Rm. 331 Salk Hall E-mail:
Faculty: Dr. Titus Schleyer, Dr. Heiko Spallek
Time/Location: Wednesdays, 3 pm - 4:30 pm, Fridays 3:15 pm - 4:45 pm, LRC Computer Lab
Offered by: Center for Dental Informatics


This course has two primary objectives. The first one is to expose participants to current research questions and issues in dental informatics. To that end, the course will review several different dental informatics research projects in-depth, and also provide an opportunity to explore research questions that should be addressed in the future. The second objective is to prepare participants for teaching in informatics and information technology, both at the predoctoral and continuing education level. The course focuses on providing the concepts and methods for teaching these subjects, rather than developing participants into full-fledged content experts. Participants will begin with conceiving an informatics course, continue to the development of a full course proposal, and explore implementation and evaluation issues.


The course will develop students' competencies in the following areas:

  • recognize, identify and formulate research questions for dental informatics
  • select appropriate research methodologies for specific projects
  • critique research questions and methods
  • conceive educational experiences, such as seminars, lectures and courses, in informatics and information technology as applied to dentistry
  • relate competencies to appropriate evaluation strategies
  • design and evaluate educational assessment methods

Signing up for and dropping the course

Signing up for and dropping the course follows the rules published by the Office of the Registrar. Please note that additional paperwork will be required to add or drop this course after the official deadlines.


General requirements

  1. This course consists of lectures and related assignments.
  2. The course is graded A-F based on the course assignments and examinations.
  3. Students who have not completed all assignments by the end of the course will receive a grade of "incomplete."  The final grade will be awarded once the assignments are completed.
  4. Please follow the guidelines for paper presentations.

Grade calculation

  • Memo writing assignment: 10%
  • Technical documentation writing assignment: 10%
  • Midterm exam: 20%
  • Presentation #1: 15%
  • Presentation #2: 15%
  • Final exam: 30%


If classwork merits a grade of 'F,' students will be assigned appropriate makeup work.  This makeup work will consist of an essay or research assignment.


Readings consist of articles and/or book chapters distributed in class or available through the Web page (see schedule below). You will be expected to have read all assignments before each corresponding class (with the exception of the first session).


Academic Integrity

Students in this course will be expected to comply with University of Pittsburgh's Policy on Academic Integrity. Any student suspected of violating this obligation for any reason during the semester will be required to participate in the procedural process, initiated at the instructor level, as outlined in the University Guidelines on Academic Integrity. This may include, but is not limited to, the confiscation of the examination of any individual suspected of violating University Policy. Furthermore, no student may bring any unauthorized materials to an exam, including dictionaries and programmable calculators.


If you have a disability that requires special testing accommodations or other classroom modifications, you need to notify both the instructor and the Disability Resources and Services no later than the 2nd week of the term. You may be asked to provide documentation of your disability to determine the appropriateness of accommodations. To notify Disability Resources and Services, call 648-7890 (Voice or TTD) to schedule an appointment. The Office is located in 216 William Pitt Union.

Schedule and topics

Class time and location is Wednesdays, 3 pm - 4:30 pm and Fridays 3:15 pm - 4:45 pm, LRC, unless indicated otherwise. Scheduled presentations are as follows (Please note: Assignments received after the deadline will automatically receive a one letter grade lower score) (All readings are available from CDI.):

1/12/2005 Instructor: H. Spallek
Teaching through competencies (PPT)

All US dental school must define competencies needed for graduation which must focus on educational outcomes. This new educational approach must be reflected in all course developments and curriculum management, thus directly effecting our discipline. The session will cover the basics of competency-based education and allow students to create a competency statement including evaluation methods. It will also discuss pitfalls and obstacles of competency-based education.


For this class:

For 1/14/2005:

1/14/2005 Instructor: T. Schleyer
Teaching informatics and information technology (PPT)

Teaching about informatics and information technology is a common task for informatics experts. Especially in dentistry, where few schools offer such courses to predoctoral and postdoctoral students, and practicing dentists, demand for this topic is high. The session will cover the development and implementation of a dental informatics curriculum at Temple University, and discuss current plans for a similar endeavor at the University of Pittsburgh. We will also discuss offering continuing education courses to practicing dentists, hygienists and other office personnel.


For 1/19/2005:


  • Prepare your poster draft using Corel Draw v11 to be revised in the lab session on 1/21/2005.
1/19/2005 Instructor: H. Spallek (Web)
Designing scientific posters  

Posters have evolved into the third leg of a scholarly publication tripod, joining abstracts and published papers in journals as an essential component of scientific communications. [SciFor Inc.] At dental and medical conferences, many mediocre posters can be seen. Because we do not want to contribute to this category, this session will explain the general principles of poster design and prepare students to design their own high-quality posters. For consistency reasons, Corel Draw v11 will be used for this part, however it can be replaced by any vector graphic application later.

Corresponding Lab Session: 1/21/2005 !

Reading/assignment: For 1/26/2005:
1/26/2005 Instructor: T. Schleyer
Writing memos in academia (PPT)

The ability to communicate clearly in writing is an important skill in academia and business. One of the most frequently used methods of communication is the memo (even if it is often communicated by e-mail). This session will introduce participants to general rules and strategies for writing memos, and also provide guidelines for a clear and understandable writing style. Many skills taught in this seminar are applicable to writing in general.

Class handouts: Institutional Advancement Memo V1, Institutional Advancement Memo V2, Fixing nominalized writing

Assignments (due 1/28/2005):

Corresponding Lab Session: 1/28/2005 !


For 2/2/2005:

2/2/2005 Instructor: H. Spallek
Developing a strategic plan for information technology and informatics (PPT)

Writing a strategic plan is a complex process involving many techniques and battles to fight. This session will serve to describe the process how to tackle such a task, but will also provide a template how a strategic plan for a dental educational institution can be structured.


For 2/4/2005:

  • ...

2/4/2005 Instructor: K. Shwaish
Managing the process of developing custom software 


2/9/2005 Instructor: J. Arulraj
Code walkthrough exercise



For 2/11/2005:

  • ....

2/11/2003 Instructor: T. Schleyer  
Writing technical documentation in IT (PPT)

"Nobody reads manuals!" is a frequently voiced complaint among technical writers, software developers and programmers. So, what is the problem: the user or the documentation? This session will discuss why the quality of the documentation is crucial in helping users understand and productively use software. Often, the fact that documentation is not helpful is due to poor writing, bad formatting and lack of focus on user tasks and questions. Individuals who write technical documentation often miss the fact that writing good documentation is an exercise in information design, cognitive science and user-centered engineering. This session will discuss aspects of developing technical documentation and illustrate good and bad documentation with examples.

Resources and references:

Assignment (due 2/23/2005):

Corresponding Lab Session: (to be rescheduled)


For 2/23/2005:

  • .....

2/23/2005 no lecture

For 3/2/2005:

  • paper to be presented

Assignment: Study for Midterm

2/28/2005 Midterm Exam (open book, in the LRC)

3/4/2005 Instructor: P. Hernandez
Paper presentation: Lorenzi N, Strategies for Creating Successful Local Health Information Infrastructure Initiatives (Report)
Topic: In this paper, the author explains the paths to be taken for the creation of successful Local Health Information Infrastructures (LHII). LHIIs share patient information across multi-organizational groups in a region. LHIIs are seen as precursors of the National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII), a government initiative which will facilitate rapid and effective transfer of patient information between healthcare providers and organizations regardless of their location. The article addresses three issues: the lessons learned from previous information sharing experiences, the outcomes of two current initiatives, and prospective strategies for future LHIIs. Community Health Information Network(s) (CHIN), an earlier health information sharing experiment, failed mainly due to organizational issues. The two LHIIs studied were the Indianapolis Network for Patient Care and the Santa Barbara County Care Data Exchange. Similarities and differences between these two LHII are discussed, and strategies for maximizing the chances of future success described.

paper to be presented

3/14/2005 Instructor: J. Yuhaniak (PPT)
Paper presentation: Mandviwalla M, Olfman L. What do groups need? A proposed set of generic groupware requirements ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 1994; 1(3):245-268.
Topic: With the increased use of the internet and the flourishing of dental informatics, the isolated single-practice dental community is starting to transition to a multi-centered organization sharing and disseminating information.  These new dental groups will need computer-base collaboratory tools to increase and enhance efficiency and efficacy of their communications.  In this session we will discuss the Mandviwalla and Olfman paper with respect to the history and background of collaborations, collaborations specific to dental informatics, and current and future research in collaborations.

For 3/18/2005:

  • Anderson, LH. Integrated Office Technology: How Technology Can Help Improve Office Efficiency. J Am Dent Assoc 2004;135(Technology Supplement):18S-22S.
  • Schleyer, T. Why Integration Is Key for Dental Office Technology. J Am Dent Assoc 2004;135(Technology Supplement): 4S-9S.
  • Schleyer, T, Spallek, H, Bartling, WC, Corby, P. The technologically well-equipped dental office. J Am Dent Assoc; Vol. 134(1), January 2003: 30-41.

3/17/2005 Instructor: M. Nair (PPT)
8:15 am - 10:00 am
(Conference Room in Radiology)
A strategic plan for implementing digital radiology at the SDM
Topic: This lecture would enable the attendee to understand the basic concepts of digital radiography. The indications for use of direct digital imaging will be discussed and the advantages and disadvantages of such systems explored. The attendees will be instructed on interpreting the information provided by vendors of digital imaging systems. Currently available direct digital imaging intra-oral units will be compared to conventional systems. The various aspects of image manipulation and their contribution to diagnosis will be evaluated, based on current scientific literature. Indirect digital imaging will also be explored for its merits and demerits.

For 4/6/2005:

  • paper to be presented

3/18/2005 Instructor: T. Thyvalikakath (PPT)
Paper presentation: Martin P, Crabbe F, Adams S, Baatz E, and Yankelovich N. SpeechActs: a spoken-language framework. IEEE Computer 29 (7):33-40, 1996.

Speech applications are increasing in importance as a means for improving human-computer interfaces. Today, the speech interfaces are used in desktop environments and applications, telephony call centers and in small personal computing devices. In this session we will be discussing, (a) the development of a spoken language framework called SpeechActs by Nicole Yankelowich and her colleagues, (b) current applications and limitations of speech technology in the human computer interface, and (c) how SpeechActs may be useful to develop a conversational interface for chairside computers in clinical dentistry.


paper to be presented

3/21/2005 Instructor: H. Spallek
Intraoral cameras-the state-of-the-art (PPT)

We will discuss one of the most frequently used imaging devices in dental practice. Intraoral cameras can support patient education, diagnosis and treatment. This session will describe the types of cameras, their physical location and integration, operational aspects, and image quality and properties.

Corresponding Lab Session: 3/23/2005 (Brush your teeth before the session; we will try two cameras.)!

Reading/assignment: For 3/25/2005:

3/25/2005 Instructor: T. Schleyer
Advanced concepts in the evaluation of educational software

Educational software is a relatively new tool for acquiring new knowledge. Typically, the evaluation of educational software has concentrated on comparing traditional modes of education (such as lectures and lab sessions) with methods using educational software. Clark terms this approach the "media-comparative model," which has several problems. The session will explore advanced evaluation issues for educational software, and discuss different methods of establishing a program's contribution to the educational process.

3/30/2005 Instructor: T. Schleyer
10:00 am Formatting large documents in MS Word



For 4/1/2005:

  • Spallek, H. Adaptive Hypermedia: A new paradigm for educational software. Advances in Dental Research , 17, December 2003: 38-42 [PDF]
  • Brusilovsky P: A Tool for Developing Adaptive Electronic Textbooks on WWW. Available: (1996)
  • Brusilovsky, P. (1999) Adaptive and Intelligent Technologies for Web-based Education. In C. Rollinger and C. Peylo (eds.), Special Issue on Intelligent Systems and Teleteaching, Künstliche Intelligenz, 4, 19-25. [PDF]

4/1/2005 Instructor: H. Spallek
Foundations of adaptive hypermedia (PPT, expert review script, expert feedback)

Since 1994, I have been developing Web-based educational resources for dental professionals. I started to develop systems which where designed under the broadcast paradigm which centers around the teacher, not the student. This one-size-fits-all approach resembles a mass-production idea in which "you teach the same thing to students in the same way and assess them all in the same way." My current projects try to exploit adaptive hypermedia research in order to move to an individual teaching approach. This learner-centered education begins with the selection of a learning goal, the evaluation of abilities and the determination of the individual learning style in order to structure and tailor the offered material in the most efficient way.


For 4/6/2005:

  • Nygren,E: From paper to computer screen: Human information processing and interfaces to patient data. Proceedings of IMIA WG6 Conference on Natural Language and Medical Concept Representation. 1997

4/6/2005 Instructor: J. Yuhaniak [PPT]
Paper presentation: From paper to computer screen: Human information processing and interfaces to patient data  
Topic: This paper focuses on the computerized medical record being an information tool for physicians in clinical practice. It addresses many issues in design, specifically that poor user interface factors contribute directly to problems of computerized medical records. When designing an electronic medical record it is important to focus on short learning times, efficacy of daily work, and accommodating excellence. Overall, the task of constructing computerized medical record will be difficult.

For 4/8/2005:

  • Schleyer TK, Corby P, Gregg AL: A Preliminary Analysis of the Dental Informatics Literature [PDF]

4/8/2005 Instructor: T. Thyvalikakath
Paper presentation: A Preliminary Analysis of the Dental Informatics Literature  

This paper describes the results of conducting a preliminary analysis of dental informatics literature. The authors talk about the significance of conducting this study and the limitations they came across during the study. Ease of retrieval of relevant papers in dental informatics is important for research and continuing contribution to dentistry and biomedical informatics.


For 4/13/2005:

  • Schleyer TK, Torres-Urquidy MH, Straja: Validation of an instrument to measure students' use of, knowledge about, the attitudes towards computers [PDF]

4/13/2005 Instructor: P. Hernandez [PPT]
Paper presentation: Students' use of, knowledge about, and attitudes towards computers

This paper describes how an instrument was validated to measure dental students' use of, knowledge about and attitudes towards computers. Many studies have used various survey methods to measure dental students knowledge and opinions about computers but none have established the reliability and validity of the instrument used. In this survey, reliability is ascertained through factor analysis and factor loading. Validity is established by grounding the survey on a related and validated instrument. This is the first instance in the dental literature where a validated instrument has been used for this purpose.

4/15/2005 Instructor: H. Spallek [PPT] (Usability: Script, Report, Demo)
Writing a book: From concept to publication

Computing in Dentistry , currently in development, is a combination of a book and a Website about information technology applications in dentistry. This presentation describes the concept for the book/Website combination, its content and the current design of the Website.


For 4/20/2005:

4/20/2005 Instructor: K. Shwaish
The SDM Intranet Project

In January 2003, the School of Dental Medicine began a project to design a comprehensive intranet. Because no intranet existed before that date, the design and implementation began from scratch. A design team of students from Carnegie Mellon University performed an initial assessment, information architecture and alternative designs as part of their masters in Human Computer Interaction project. The session will present progress with the intranet project to date.

4/27/2005 Final Exam: 3 pm in the LRC