While creating a revision tutorial for my students a few months ago, I coincidentally stumbled over a function that allowed me to add quizzing elements to the presentation I was making. The thrill of potentially asking my students to come up with their own questions to make the embedded video portion more engaging got soon dimmed by the realization that I wouldn’t be able to export any interactive elements into the virtual space all students had equal access to. SCORM package incompatibility is what it’s called in technical speak. Sounds pretty scary to the uninitiated and is one of reasons why I really dislike singular-space proprietary software that holds content in solitary confinement within either a single platforms or tool.
You might now understand why my first reaction to H5Pwas one of surprise added with a big slap of suspicion. The first place I read about it was this interview in opensource.com¹, in which the interviewee claimed to have created this open tool to “guarantee […] that creatives own their own content and are not locked into the fate and licensing regime of a specific tool.” Not quite convinced at that point, I was still curious enough to go and find out more. What I discovered then intrigued me.
Not only is this software ‘platform-agnostic’, but also open and free for anyone to use. Moreover, the content you create can easily be rendered by alternative tools if need be or wanted. To top it off, H5P is very well something for the flock of the faint of heart among the users of educational technology. You are truly only few clicks away from creating any one of the altogether 26 self-contained HTML5 interactive content types below. Always wanted to create THAT appealing timeline, THAT inspiring video presentation, THAT teasing audio recording activity or THAT sleek interactive quiz?
Believe you me, you can now save yourself a few trips (and expenditures on your way) through cyberspace, nor will you need to read a lengthy expert manual to start creating.
However, be aware that the software needs YOU in order to invigorate your instruction! Besides all that ease in use, no ready-made content will suddenly appear before you, neither does the tool come with prepackaged ideas how you can engage your students in ways that fit their needs and simultaneously match your requirements for your course. “The new learning is ancient”, as Kathi Inman Berens² puts it, and with this concise statement she very accurately captures the need for you create that space, in which your students can interact and thereby stimulate their individual learning.
H5P content types are indeed multi-functional and I like how Dr. Robert O’Toole³describes this versatility with an image of the culinary kind, when he calls them “wrappers for ‘open educational resources'”, with the help of which a set of generic resources can be utilized to create custom-tailored teaching materials, “the more complex composite types of” which […] have great potential […] for building immersive learning experiences – more coherent, flowing and hence immersive than we can easily achieve with conventional” […] learning management systems. The home-made potpourri of resources accessible on Toole’s website (inspireslearning.com) is a great start for those among you who wish to see some sample content types in (inter)action.
Are you ready to peek beyond those high paywall fortresses that dot the “almost medieval world”¹ of interactivity? If you do, you’ll find refreshing open waters to tread.
In January this year, I have had the great pleasure to interview Dr. Carol Williams, an established scholar at the Women & Gender Studies Department and the Department of History at the University of Lethbridge, who in that conversation shared with me how she approaches open pedagogy and what materials she assembles for her courses.
The first door we kicked ajar that day allowed an insightful view at Carol’s skilled navigation through the vast pool of openly available learning resources. Building on the academic accomplishments and valuable experiences gained throughout the 40 years of her teaching and researching career, she’s mastered websearching for content which she then smoothly bunches up afterwards, in ways that fit her courses exactly, so that they are thematically organized, aligned to teaching within an authentic academic context and free of hidden material costs to students.
The second door disclosed how valuable Carol finds student contributions to the academic knowledge in her field. The examples she provided include three names of her students, who published their original research to a peer reviewed Canadian-based website that is scholarly in all regards: it has a consistent editorial policy, and essays include footnotes and hyperlinked quotations, which lead the reader to all the relevant sources. If somebody quotes a piece of legislation, for instance, the article is linked to that legislation. To Carol, this website represents a modern digital textbook, one that digital in nature, is functional to do much more than their traditional print counterparts ever will be able to in terms of authenticity in topics, immediacy of publication and innovation in user-friendliness.