School of Dental Medicine

Faculty and Staff

Todd Watkins, DDS

Assistant Dean for Dental Education and Informatics
Assistant Professor

4151 Ledyard E. Ross Hall

DDS - UNC at Chapel Hill, 1990
AEGD - University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 1991

Society Memberships
American Dental Education Association
American Educational Research Associatio

Biographical Information
Dr. Todd Watkins is a native North Carolinian, born and raised in Gastonia. He earned a BA in Psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1985, and, following a year of biomaterials and informatics research, he received his DDS from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry in 1990. Dr. Watkins joined the dental and educational resources faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio following the completion of an Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency in 1991. In 1994, he performed a successful technology transfer of "Project Macinstein" from the University of Texas into a Delaware C Corporation called VitalSource Technologies. As President and CEO of VitalSource he guided the development and delivery of the first XML-based electronic book platform which is currently the most used e-textbook technology in the world. He was featured in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for his work during the infancy of e-books and digital rights management. After leaving VitalSource, he served as a consultant to numerous health science schools in course and curriculum implementation of technology and content. Dr. Watkins joined ECU School of Dental Medicine in 2008 as the first faculty member and was tasked to develop the initial curriculum and the technologies needed to implement the dental programs. He currently serves as the Assistant Dean for Dental Education and Informatics where his current research focuses on student, faculty, and program outcomes assessment technologies. He has been married to Lisa for 28 years and has a daughter, Kate, and son, Alex.

Apple Distinguished Educator
In April 2013, Dr. Watkins was named as a member of the Apple Distinguished Educators Class of 2013 ( Apple recognized him as a member of a “global community” of educators who use technology effectively to help student learning. At ECU, Dr. Watkins has created customized problem-based learning networks, implemented seven different e-books/journals and has filed U.S. and international patents for a new competency-based outcomes assessment engine in the form of a grid called XComP (eXtensible Competencies Platform). Dr. Watkins was instrumental in ECU School of Dental Medicine receiving the Apple Distinguished Program Award in January 2013 (

XComP - eXtensible Competencies Platform
Many educational programs require proof of knowledge, skills, and inter-disciplinary problem solving. It is difficult to assess these different educational outcomes longitudinally. Dr. Watkins developed a synthesis process for the constant and simultaneous analysis of performance from didactically-focused, skill-based, and problem-based environments. The integration of systems starts with two basic extensible definition sets. The first is a hierarchical series of competency definitions for each educational discipline. These definitions are uniquely coded with a number which belies the position of a topic within the hierarchy. These are defined as "microcompetency codes" (MC). The second relates to a "relative value" of skill-based procedures as compared to an extensible time definition (T). A poster summary of this research can viewed (here).

There are six different assessment methods for evaluating student performance - Basic Didactic Exams (multiple choice), Applied Didactic Exams (short answer/oral/OSCE), Quantitative Skills Assessments, Qualitative Skills Assessments, Case/Report-Based Assessment, and Problem-Based Learning Assessment. A summary of Dr. Watkins’ method for inclusion of basic exams is (here). The most unique methodology that Dr. Watkins developed is the “grading” for discussion groups, managed by social media. Dr. Watkins uses this technique to increase the relative percentage of problem-solving and critical thinking in curricula. A summary of Dr. Watkins’ technique is (here).

U.S. patent application 61/466,207, titled Normalization and Cumulative Analysis of Cognitive Educational Outcome Elements and Related Interactive Report Summaries, was filed March 22, 2011 by East Carolina University. International patents were filed in 2013, and a partial list is as follows: Canada, 77203-246, South Korea, 5218.204.KR, China, 201280014075.4, European Union, P300786EP, Brazil, P199334-dla, Mexico, 5218.204.MX, United Arab Emirates, 4010954757, and South Africa, P63773ZA00, and Australia, 40593EAS/MRR. The XComP name was trademarked by East Carolina University in 2013.


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