CLAS: Interactive Media for Education System

TitleCLAS: Interactive Media for Education System
Duration2 Year
Project Summary

The Collaborative Learning Annotation System (CLAS) began as a research prototype in 2010 and was repurposed as a teaching and learning resource in 2012. Through this project, the features of this web application were expanded and enhanced, it continued to be offered as a pedagogical tool and service, and its uptake increased beyond the Faculty of Arts. CLAS is a video platform which facilitates feedback, peer-learning, self-reflective study, and performance review. It provides tools for capture, management, delivery, and discussion of media content for instructors, mentors and learners. CLAS also enables students and instructors to identify the level of understanding through discussion and questions-and-answers. A specially-configured version of CLAS has been used as the admission portal for the School of Music to receive online auditions from international applicants.

Funding Details
Year 1: Project YearYear 1
Year 1: Funding Year2013/2014
Year 1: Project TypeLarge TLEF
Year 1: Principal InvestigatorFred Cutler
Year 1: Funded Amount197,000
Year 1: Team Members

Fred Cutler, Project Owner and Lead
Thomas Dang, Programmer Analyst
Lenkyn Ostapovich, Graphic Design
Leanna Chow, Graphic Design
Ricardo Serrano, Project Manager

Instructional Support: Arts ISIT Learning Centre team (Angela Lam, Jenny Wong, Leanna Chow)

User Support: Arts ISIT Help Desk team

Year 1: TLEF ShowcaseYear 1: TLEF Showcase
Year 2: TLEF ShowcaseYear 2: TLEF Showcase
Project ReportReport-2013-FL-Cutler-WEB.pdf
Project Outcomes

Products & achievements: The following features have been built and enhanced as response to users’ pedagogical and administrative needs: comments and annotations (users can add directly to the timeline of the video, start threaded discussions, tag, and use audio, video and weblinks within the annotations); video sourcing and capture (users can capture high-quality video using a webcam and upload directly to UBC Video Share, videos from different cloud locations can be placed into CLAS by pasting the URL, metadata are applied to the video automatically to shorten workflow); integration with UBC systems (CLAS is integrated with Connect, can also be embedded in UBC Blogs and UBC CMS CLAS, and has an automatic reconciliation of SIS enrollments in full compliance with UBC PIA); video library management (users can assign videos to courses, group(s), or single users; assets and features are customizable); user interface (CLAS is fully functional on all major browsers, a mobile interface is also available); learning analytics (comprehensive reports that include granular and aggregate information on the viewing and commenting behaviour of each user); CLAS service charter and support model were created and aligned with current UBC tools, guides can be  found at

Intended outcomes/themes:

  • To produce a powerful, user-friendly software platform to capture and deliver media content with embedded interactivity and flexible configuration options.
    • CLAS integration with Connect.
    • Ability to integrate with external, mental, and non-video based content (e.g. YouTube, Google Maps, UBC Library, etc.).
    • Ability to assign user roles and group.
  • To redesign and expand the conceptual and architectural design of the system to deliver a far more comprehensive feature set and extensible and stable foundation.
  • To work with UBC IT to define the parameters of CLAS’s service and support.

Evaluation approach: ArtsISIT carried out a series of semi-structured interviews with instructors who have used CLAS in their courses. They were asked to consider how the integration of CLAS had an impact on their teaching and on student learning. The accomplishment of proposed outcomes and user log data were also utilized for evaluation purposes.

Findings: The proposed enhancements for CLAS were achieved as a result of this project; several features were improved/implemented. The system and database are maintained by Arts ISIT, whereas multimedia files are hosted on UBC IT hardware through the UBC Video Share platform. For most of the instructors involved with CLAS, it was a new tool. They implemented some fairly simple approaches at the beginning but then discovered the potential for the tool and have plans for the next iteration of the course that takes further advantage of the tool to improve learning. Initial motivation for selecting CLAS included: providing greater flexibility in time, location, or scheduling of learning (for students and instructors); replacing in-class with online presentations; sharing student performance videos with individual students. According to instructors, the outcomes of implementing CLAS included: improved use of class time; improved student reflection; higher levels of quality of student work and engagement. From the user point of view, analytics indicate that about 75% of students impacted were active users who logged into CLAS multiple times and watched multiple videos and/or made use of the discussion or private bookmarking features. A newly defined support and service strategy was established; it consists of a dashboard URL and help desks (Arts ISIT, Sauder and Education). A service workflow and escalation process is currently in place to address users’ requests and incidents.


  1. BCNet 2016 conference in Vancouver, April 2016. (
  2. Thomas Dang and Sharon Hu (Faculty of Education) presented in the New Media Conference (NMC) 2015 in Washington DC. They won an audience choice award, placing 4th out of 28 Idea Lab sessions.
  3. CLAS was one of the data providers for the 2015 UBC Learning Analytic Hackathon, organized by the Learning Analytics and Visual Analytics research group at UBC (

Sustainability: All the instructors interviewed were planning to use CLAS again for their courses, and in most cases expand its role either in functionality, scope or in number of courses making use of the tool. Instructors offered the team a number of suggestions and desired features. On the other hand, a number of partner institutions have contacted our team at Arts ISIT to express interest in trying CLAS or have used CLAS in pilot courses (e.g., Ministry of Education of Singapore; University of New South Wales; University of South Australia; Yale University; MIT (office of undergraduate admission); University of Toronto (school of music), etc.).