Education Talks: Flipping the classroom in science lessons and beyond

Is the flipped classroom en route to replacing the traditional classroom? Is e-learning our destiny? As founder of Unicoos and a nominee for the Global Teacher Prize 2017, David Calle is well acquainted with this topic. He took some time out of his busy schedule at the Education Summit to talk to us about it.

Research suggests educational videos may be more effective than a teacher with textbooks: why?

I think that books are important. Evidently they are there. I studied with books. I love books. But these new generations, the children who are in class right now, they spend all their free time on YouTube. YouTube is their playground. They are very used to the audiovisual format, and everything that arrives in audiovisual format they get a lot better. Obviously, it is much better, like I always say, to show a video of an explosion than a photo of an explosion in a book. So, in my case, I think video in particular is a fundamental tool and can help teachers a lot at the time of teaching and especially to connect with their students.

How do you think the idea of flipped classrooms will develop in the future?

There are already many teachers in the world working with the flipped classroom. They are using video usually in class, and I think the breakthrough is going to be unstoppable in the next 3 or 4 years. For me it is fundamental, not to replace the work of a teacher or anything like that, but to be able to help to achieve that those kids, who often find especially science subjects less likeable, can be engaged much more. I also teach students in person, and they always like what the videos tell them better than what I tell them in class. In fact, it will make it so that a teacher has to be more creative and do much more different things than what they actually or usually do in class.

As a nominee for the Global Teacher Prize 2017, what would be your advice for the delivery of a good science lesson?

First of all, try in any subject, it does not matter if it is science, to transmit the greatest possible enthusiasm to your students, empathise with them and let them participate in class. I think we should abandon, especially in science, the idea that the teacher only has to speak and the students can only listen, and I think we should participate and empathise and talk a lot more with them. From there, I try to give them examples of superheroes, movies, of all the things that they are keen with from the real world, so they can relate the numbers and the letters and the equations they see on paper and do not know very well what they are for. They try to relate to the real world and I explain why a plane flies, or that the bridge they go through every day responds to a mathematical equation, or that if there were no mathematics, they could not play their video games because video games are about physics and mathematics. And if I try to link their passions with the sciences, well, much better, and that is what I try in the videos almost always.

Do you see more integration of e-learning into the curriculum in the future?

I think we teachers should little by little start introducing all those small dynamics, or in our class dynamics, all those little technological innovations that allow our students to understand the sciences from different angles. It cannot be that we continue teaching the sciences in the same way as when I was little for example, when there was no Internet or no Google. We must make the most of the computing power of computers, mobile phones, social networks, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, definitely. Because it makes the kids connect more what they see in class with the real world – because if not, they are faced with two different worlds. And we teachers need to start introducing little by little that type of dynamics. Not just social networks, but augmented reality. All you need is a mobile and some cardboard glasses for children to see the Sistine Chapel from inside, or the bottom of the sea, or space. So, everything that we can introduce little by little in class that has to do with technology will make the students go to the class more motivated, participate more, and that obviously improves the way in which science is taught right now. Above all, considering that in the future, these kids are going to work with technology practically every day, and job opportunities of the future and of tomorrow go through artificial intelligence, machine learning, and many other concepts that have to do with science. And the sooner we introduce the kids or get them to discover the passion for science is much better. And little by little, the teachers, we must try, at whatever cost.