CLAS Instructor Guide

The Collaborative Learning Annotation System (CLAS) is UBC’s homegrown review tool for multimedia that features a specialized media player for recording, sharing, annotating (i.e., marking up specific areas), 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.
Cost Yes Free
Bandwidth Partial High demand
Canvas Integration Yes Works in coordination with Canvas
Privacy Yes CLAS is FIPPA compliant and data is stored securely in Canada
Similar UBC-Supported Tools 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 assessment (aka peer review) or other media-reviewing assignments:

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

How are 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 or Firefox.

A CLAS course

You will need to request a CLAS course first, as outlined below.

Tips

  • CLAS supports Windows 10, macOS 10.13+, iOS 13+, and Android 9+; however, we recommend using full-screen devices, as there is limited functionality on mobile devices. 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.

Set up a CLAS course

If you are new to using CLAS or are setting up a new course, you will need to request your course be created first.

  1. Go to clas.ubc.ca/prod, click CWL Login, and log in with your UBC CWL (Campus-Wide Login).
  2. Click Manage in the left-hand navigation, and select Request a Course.
  3. Fill in the form, then click Submit Request.
  4. Once your course is set up, you can create and upload videos or ask your students to do the same. You will be able to control who has access to which videos and what CLAS features are available for your course.

Tips

  • Your faculty may have a custom version of CLAS that is managed separately from the main site used at UBC. If you know your faculty's CLAS admin, please write to them first to request a course.
  • You can also request a CLAS "sandbox" course to test the different features, without having to tie your experimenting to a specific course.
  • The CLAS instructor manual provides detailed instructions for using the CLAS features, or you can read more about these in the accordion below.

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 or other online sources.
  • Ask students to submit their own media assignments: You can create assignment drop boxes for students to submit their media content, and embed the CLAS tool in Canvas to allow students to interact with their CLAS assignments in Canvas.
  • 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, and leave contextualized, time-specific annotations while viewing or playing the media. To add annotations, click the video/audio timeline or select an area or point in an image or PDF.

Tips

  • View the 3-minute overview video of CLAS to get an overall idea how it works.
  • Groups can be created to support group assignments, activities, or discussions. Media assigned to a group is only visible to the group members, instructor, and teaching assistants.
  • If you use UBC Blogs, CLAS can also be embedded there, following a similar process as embedding in Canvas.

Facilitate student peer assessments in CLAS

Student peer assessment assignments are a common use of CLAS. These high-level steps can 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 clas.ubc.ca/prod, click CWL Login, and log in with your UBC CWL.
    • Click Manage in the left-hand navigation, and select Course Settings.
    • Under "Upload and sharing options", toggle the button for "Students can upload and share to everyone in the course and playlists or groups they are a member of" so it looks dark purple.
  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. You can share the CLAS Student Guide, so students can learn how to properly upload their media.
  4. Once the media is available in 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 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.

Tips

  • You won't be able to use the standard CLAS assignment for student peer assessments, since these assignments create hand-in boxes that are not visible to peers, only 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 the majority will be able to understand.
  • You can allow students to see all media in the course but only comment on media 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 toggle the button for "Peer Review" so it looks dark purple.
  • A colour-coded timeline lets you see the comments and annotations on media in CLAS, so you can get a quick overview of where students contextually responded.

Where can I get more support with CLAS?

Technical support

If you have trouble with CLAS:

For supporting your students:

Learn more


Except where otherwise noted, this tool guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

« See all tools