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The Fall of the Flip Cam: A Loss for Teachers?

Tech blogs are abuzz today with the news that Cisco will stop making Flip video cameras. Coincidentally, we've heard from a number of teachers over the last couple months who use these devices—which cost less than $200, hold up to a couple hours of HD footage, and are easy-as-pie to operate—in their classrooms. Joel Malley, featured in this recent Teacher PD Sourcebook article, gave his students Flip cams on a field trip at a local nature reserve. The high schoolers later combined the footage with their original poetry to create videos that the nature reserve showed at a fundraising event.

As for the end of Flip cams, Ryan Lawler at the business and technology news site Gigaom writes:

One could argue that the death of the Flip cam was an inevitability, that even if the product hadn't languished under Cisco's direction that eventually the concept of a standalone video camera would lose out to video capabilities added to new smartphones and to more powerful video functionality sneaking into digital still cameras. ...The real problem, though, is that as the market matured, the Flip cam didn't.

Have you used Flip cams in the classroom? Were there problems with the hardware or software? Could you replace the cameras with smartphones for digital writing exercises (or other lessons that benefit from video capability)?

4/13/11 UPDATE: For teachers looking for Flip cam alternatives, here are five potential replacements, c/o Lauren Rabaino at Media Bistro.

The Kodak versions are the most comparable in terms of size and usability, according to Rabaino, and the Coby SNAP mini camcorder is the cheapest at $25 to $60.

While Rabaino focuses on the late Flip cam as a tool for journalists, it's clear that quick and easy shooting is valuable in the classroom as well (45-minute periods aren't often conducive to long-form pieces. And aren't English teachers training little journalists anyway?).

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