CLAS Instructor Guide

The Collaborative Learning Annotation System (CLAS) is UBC’s homegrown tool for reviewing written work and media. CLAS features a specialized media player for recording, sharing, annotating, and commenting on videos, images, and PDFs. Annotations for videos are timeline-based, so you and your students can leave feedback contextually, exactly where it applies.
Access Immediate
Cost Yes Free.
Bandwidth Partial High demand on internet connections.
Canvas Integration Yes Works in coordination with Canvas.
Privacy Yes Verified by UBC’s Privacy Impact Assessment process.
Similar UBC-Supported Tools Y If you use CLAS for peer review, ComPAIR and peerScholar are also centrally supported for student peer assessment.

What can I use it for?

You can use CLAS to facilitate student peer assessments (aka peer review) or other media-reviewing assignments:

  • Managing assignment collection of videos, images, and PDFs, which you can ask students to review
  • Seeing how students annotate and add contextualized feedback on their own or their peers’ work
  • Facilitating discussion between students—and adding your feedback—through comments and replies

This tool guide was last reviewed in July 2023.

How are other faculty using CLAS?

Marina Milber-Bolotin uses CLAS for teacher-candidates to get peer critiques

To support teacher-candidates, we’ve been doing something called microteaching, where teacher-candidates are asked to upload a short video of them teaching a mini-lesson of a specific topic. Then they are asked to watch their own videos as well as the videos of their peers and comment on them. CLAS allowed teacher-candidates to focus on details, to revisit some concepts, and look at how their peers teach their lessons. Read More »

Robert Taylor uses CLAS to enable contextualized self-reflection in music

We implemented a system in which each student conducts their peers, which is recorded and then uploaded onto CLAS. The student can then monitor their own conducting techniques and make annotations straight onto the video as their self-reflective exercise. This allows students to respond in real time to what they see in the videos, rather than watching the whole thing at once and writing up a reflective statement afterward. Read More »

What do I need to use CLAS?

A supported web browser

CLAS runs in your web browser and supports using Chrome. Using other browsers may produce unintended results.


  • CLAS supports Windows 10+, macOS 11+, iOS 14+, and Android 11+; however, we recommend using full-screen devices. There is limited functionality on mobile devices, and you will not be able to manage all media or make annotations on images and PDFs.

How do I use CLAS?

Click any bar below for instructions and tips for using CLAS.

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Set up a CLAS course

You will need to request your course be created first.

  1. Go to the CLAS request form.
  2. Fill out the form, then click Submit.
  3. Your request will be directed to the appropriate contacts. They will set up your course in your Faculty's version of CLAS.


  • Once your course is set up, you can further customize it. You will be able to control who has access to which media, as well as what CLAS features are available for students in your course.
  • You can use the same CLAS request form to request a sandbox course. A sandbox course will let you test different features without having to tie your experimenting to a real course.

Understand your options in CLAS

  • Upload or import content for students to review: You can upload or import media directly from your computer or from YouTube and other online sources.
  • Ask students to submit their own media assignments: You can create assignment drop boxes for students to submit their media content. Students can interact with these assignments in CLAS, or you can embed the CLAS tool in either Canvas or UBC Blogs to allow students to interact with their CLAS assignments there.
  • Annotate and comment on media: You and your students can add text, audio, or video comments using the general comment box located below the media. Everyone can also leave contextualized annotations while viewing or playing the media. To add annotations, click the video/audio timeline or select an area/point in an image or PDF.


  • The Faculty of Arts's CLAS instructor manual provides detailed instructions for using the CLAS features. You can also view their 3-minute overview video of CLAS to get an idea of how it works.
  • You can create CLAS groups to support group assignments, activities, or discussions. The media assigned to each group is only visible to the group members, instructor, and teaching assistants.

Facilitate student peer assessments in CLAS

Student peer assessments are a common use of CLAS, allowing students to review one another's work. These suggestions can help get you started.

  1. By default, students cannot upload media themselves, so you'll first need to enable the upload option for students:
    • Go to the CLAS sign-in page and select your faculty.
    • Click CWL Login, and log in with your UBC CWL (Campus-Wide Login).
    • Click Manage on the left-hand navigation and select Course Settings.
    • Under "Upload and sharing options", click the toggle for "Enable course-wide upload" so that it is in the on position
  2. Depending on your pedagogical goals, create either a playlist or a group in CLAS where students will submit their work for review:
    • If you would like the whole class to be able to see and review one another's media, create a playlist in CLAS. Media shared in a playlist will be visible to everyone in the course.
    • If you would like only a portion of the class to see and review certain media, create groups in CLAS. In a group, students can share media with just the peers in their group (and the teaching team).
  3. Have students submit their media content to the playlist or to their group.
  4. Once the media is uploaded to CLAS, students will be able to review and annotate their peers' work. You can help guide the process by providing students with concrete rubrics to consider or prompts to respond to when they do their peer reviews.
  5. Since students can view all annotations made by their peers and the teaching team in the playlist or group, you can also build discussions into the review process. Students can be asked to leave responses to their peers' feedback by pressing reply to any annotation or comment associated with their media.


  • You will not be able to use the standard CLAS assignment for student peer assessments. Standard assignments create assignment drop boxes that are only visible to the teaching team.
  • To develop rubrics, start with the course learning outcomes and think about how seeing other work will help students get there—what can students learn from each other? Keep in mind how experienced students in the course will be, and use rubrics at a difficulty level that the majority will be able to understand.
  • You can allow students to see all media in the course but limit their comments only to the media shared in their group. To do this, create both a playlist and groups in CLAS. Then click "Manage" in the left-hand navigation, select "Course Settings", and click the toggle for "Class-wide peer review" so that it is in the on position.
  • A colour-coded timeline lets you see the comments and annotations on media in CLAS. This colour-coding can help you get a quick overview of where students contextually responded.
  • You can share the Faculty of Arts's CLAS student guide with students. The guide includes steps to help students learn how to properly upload their media.

Where can I get more support with CLAS?

Technical support

If you have trouble with CLAS:

Pedagogical support

Student support

Learn more

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