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Death of the Flip Cam: What's the Future of Video in the Classroom?

Teachers loved the easy-to-use video cameras for classroom projects. Now that Cisco's killed them off, what's next?

Yesterday, Cisco announced that it's killing off its popular Flip video cameras—which seems like a strange decision given the increasing popularity of the hand-held gadget. But the company says it needs to save money, and analysts point to the rise of smartphone video cameras as part of Flip's demise. Now countless educators who've relied on the inexpensive, easy-to-use tool for everything from letting students film classroom projects to filming themselves teaching, are wondering what to do next.

Why can't teachers simply use smartphones? One, just as the general population hasn't completely switched over to iPhones and Droids, not all teachers have them yet. And, although many of the newest models do have pretty decent video capabilities, few teachers can afford to buy four or five (or more) for classroom use. A Flip was pretty reasonably priced—an 8GB HD model can be found online for around $130, and the company offered bundled discount deals to educators. Also, no teacher's going to hand over her personal smartphone to students so they can film a winning National Geographic conservation contest or create a documentary about a visit to a nature preserve. Doing so would open the door to kids possibly being able to access a teacher's personal pictures, text messages, or Facebook account.

Fortunately, there are other up and coming personal video cameras out there. Here's a list of five of the best post-Flip alternatives—yes, it's inconvenient to have to learn how to use a new camera, but the good news is teachers don't have to completely abandon their efforts to foster media literacy and integrate educational technology into their lessons.

photo (cc) via Flickr user whiteafrican

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