Collaborative Annotation System (CLAS) in the Teacher Education Program


The Collaborative Learning Annotation System (CLAS) is a web-based video annotation platform at UBC developed by ArtsISIT that CWL users to upload videos, add bookmarks, embed notes and video replies directly onto the timeline of videos, and share the videos with non-UBC users.

Thanks to the TLEF grant “Tool (CLAS) Enhancement; Blended Learning: Flexible Learning in the Teacher Education Program,” in 2013 ETS piloted CLAS in the practicum portion of the Teacher Education Program with the goal of enhancing the practicum feedback process. The conventional workflow of providing feedback to students during the practicum is for the advisors to visit the Teachers Candidates (TCs) at the school, jot down notes while observing a teaching session, and then share the feedback with the TCs either in person or by email. This process was rather resource intensive, requiring advisors to travel to the schools and to arrange access to recording devices. With the proliferation of high-end mobile devices, the Teacher Education Office first considered expediting the process by asking the TCs to digitally record their sessions and share the files electronically with their advisors. However, that proved to be challenging because the files were too large to be shared by email, and were not appropriate to be shared via popular web-based video hosting platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, etc) due to privacy issues. Furthermore, reviewing the feedback on a separate document meant the cumbersome steps of indicating the timestamp in the comments and flipping between the feedback document and the video.

The CLAS pilot program addressed the above issues by:

  1. Hosting videos on a secure and password-protected UBC server that allowed students to choose who can view the video.
  2. Providing an interface where advisors can place a comment at a point in the video. The comment can be seen by hovering over the marker, so students know exactly to what segment in the video the comment is associated.
  3. Providing TCs with a private space to store, review, and reflect upon their own teaching recordings.


The following resources were developed prior to introducing CLAS to the 500+ students in the Teacher Education Program.

  1. Documentation: A resources page ( was created. This page contains use cases, links to additional information the ArtsISIT CLAS website, support contact information, and a CLAS orientation video. The orientation video is also added to every CLAS shell for easy access.
  2. Hands-on training and support: Hands-on orientation sessions were offered to advisors and TCs for the first month. Ongoing support was provided by the co-op student on an as-needed basis.
  3. Sandbox CLAS shells: A public test account was created and the account information was posted on the resource page, so people could check out CLAS without much hassle. Instructors could also complete a request form for a private sandbox shell.


CLAS was initially introduced to the 500+ students in the Teacher Education Program as an optional tool during the practicum. This resulted in extremely low uptake because the TCs were already busy with course work, and most opted not to spend the necessary time to become familiar with CLAS.

In 2014, CLAS was made mandatory in the practicum portion. However, some advisors preferred the conventional method so CLAS was used sporadically and to mixed results. Some TCs noted the school administrators were hesitant to allow their students to be filmed, so it was very difficult to complete this mandatory assignment. Other TCs reported CLAS was too complicated to expect everyone to use successfully, and some pointed out the workload in the compressed teacher education program means very little time for the TCs to learn how to use CLAS properly. As a result, the use of CLAS was no longer a requirement in the practicum.

Meanwhile, instructors began to use CLAS in courses where teacher candidates needed to give short in-class practice lessons. In these courses, the instructors recorded the practice lessons with their mobile phone, uploaded into CLAS, and was able to provide timely individual feedback. The CLAS usage in this context was much welcomed by instructors and TCs because of three main reasons:

  • Everyone in the class understood how they are expected to use CLAS – The instructors filmed and uploaded the videos and provided the comments, and the TCs only need to log in to review the comments.
  • TCs are able to use CLAS with minimal working knowledge because the onus was on the instructor to learn the platform and administer the CLAS sessions. It means very little time is required by the TCs.
  • All the TCs in the class gave consent to be filmed because they understood the usage as part of the learning activity. This meant there was no ambiguity if filming could take place in the class.

Lessons Learned

CLAS is a robust system that has a steep learning curve. In a program where the duration is short and the students’ free time is scarce, it was a better approach to invite interested instructors to administer and support the CLAS shells, rather than to require every student to maintain his or her own videos on CLAS.

Taking videos in a classroom setting is always tricky due to privacy concerns. This is exacerbated when there are minors involved and the TCs do not yet have permanent authority in the class. Upon reflection, the concerns could have been proactively dealt with by providing the TCs with a letter outlining the reason why the Teacher Candidate is asked to film his or her lessons and how the video is stored and used.

Additional Information

The diagrams below outline the use cases for CLAS.

CLAS NMC poster 01a




CLAS NMC poster 02a

Project Team

Principal Applicant

Dr. Wendy Carr, Teacher Education Office, Faculty of Education

Project Management

Sharon Hu, Instructional Designer, ETS


Thomas Dang, ArtsISIT, Faculty of Arts

Faculty Relations Building &  User Support Provision

Yvonne Dawydiak, Technology Integration Specialist, ETS

User Support Provision

Jenny Ho, TechWhiz, ETS

Austin Lee, Tech Rover, ETS