This Startup is Helping Flip Education

Dr. Renato Cataldo has a doctorate in pharmacy, has been involved in multiple startup exits within the technology space and is a university professor. Now with his latest venture he is taking on education—flip education specifically.  

The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects and discussions.

“The real problem in education today is access to quality teachers,” Renato says. “My first company was in the healthcare education space, and I’d seen that there wasn’t really a good software package or service for parents and teachers to gain access to great quality lessons or teachers. There’s other stuff out there, technically Youtube has a million things, but it’s not curated, it’s not reviewed or anything.” 

But just what is flip teaching? 

In traditional classrooms, students listen to lectures in the class and then complete assignments at home. The flip model utilizes technology to have students watch video lessons at home and then complete assignments in class with the teacher readily available to coach and explain the material in an active learning setting.  

renato_cropped“In a flip class, the teacher has a better sense of the student’s progress since they are doing the homework with them,” Renato says. “Parents wanting their students to get ahead might do some of the work for them at home for the good grade, whereas if the work is done in the classroom, the teacher can see who is struggling and he understands the material.”

Rather than just posting a video to a public site like Youtube or Vimeo, Crazy for Education’s software allows teachers access to analytics and the actions of their students. They can see which students have signed in and watched, how many times they’ve watched and what (if any) questions students have about the material. The students, in turn, can watch all the lessons upfront at the beginning of the semester if they choose, then again as they move along with the semester and then again as they prepare for final exams. Renato says that the average student will watch a video 2.8 times per semester—it’s all about access. 

Crazy For Access

“I wanted to put something together but I also wanted to make it inexpensive enough so that the average person with an hourly job could afford it for their kids,” he says. “At my last company, I had thousands of people who were hourly employees. They all want their kids to do better, but the average tutor is between $80-$100 an hour. Our cost is $60 a year for unlimited access to a library of quality teachers and videos on just about any subject out there.”  

It seems the software is working, too. Renato says data they’ve collected shows that the average flip class improved grades by 10-30 percent from where they started with the same teacher, same curriculum and same material. 

For the schools, Crazy for Education’s software wins points for being simple to use and completely ad-free. For the thousands of teachers using Crazy for Education software, it’s a way to streamline their work. With less repeating and simple uploading tools teachers can essentially make an encyclopedia of themselves for their students. And taking a 40-50 minute lecture and fitting it into eight 10-minute online videos is easier than you’d think, says Renato. 

“They’re actually giving more material than they would give in class,” says Renato. “The average mid-high school class lecture only gets 8-9 minutes of content. The teachers say in the video that they don’t have any interruptions, nobody’s raising their hands. So most of them, instead of saying, “How do I condense my lessons?” are covering more material in their class than they ever have before. Right now we have more than 7,000 lessons from certified teachers all over the world.”

And for the parents nervous that they won’t understand their kid’s 6th grade biology questions, the videos are a great way for them to brush up on subjects their kids are studying and just subjects in general. 

“We’re basically like a library card. You get this card and you get access to every aisle in the system.”

Where does Crazy for Education move next? With great partnerships with schools in St. Louis and schools across the nation, the company is now looking at hospitals and healthcare education, an area Renato is familiar with. 

“There is no other white-label education software on the market other than us. So by first quarter next year we will probably be in 10 hospitals,” says Renato. “Hospitals need to educate their patients. So each hospital wants to do it differently from the next and they don’t want to spend millions, so we’ve come up with a reasonable package for those hospitals to educate their patients, leading to lower re-admission rates, so there is a great economic incentive there.”