H5P working to democratise learning

Notes from the H5P conference, Tromsø, Norway, 11–13th September 2017

Svein-Tore Griff With presents the keynote (photo. Stephan Caspar)

Empowering educators

Around two years ago we were looking for ways to bring learning activities into web pages and increase the opportunity for students and educators to start to use WordPress not just for blogging but for delivering parts of their curriculum. The use of WordPress has grown from small needs in one or two faculties to wider use across the institution.

Our 2016 ALT-C talk was subtitled “ Putting the creative power back in the hands of academics”. Of course, there are a number of applications for the creation of rich multimedia learning objects, but many of these require a license and many hours of training and development. Whilst an application such as Articulate Storyline could create more sophisticated and bespoke learning objects, those created in H5P require little developer knowledge or training.

What is H5P?

H5P provides a set of content types which can be embedded within WordPress, Drupal and Moodle, and with some additional tweaking can be included in Blackboard or corporate CMS.

Built by a group of developers in Tromsø, Norway, H5P has been growing steadily and is used in Universities, K12, Professional Development and a host of online education providers.

Creating content at the Norwegian Room for Learning. (photo.Stephan Caspar)

H5P is opensource and built around the principle of sharing.

You can create your own content from over 45 content types, starting from scratch and working your way through a tool, or you can download someone else’s content according to permissions and either modify or embed unchanged.

The first H5P Conference brought together developers, academics and trainers from around the world, as far as the US, Japan and Australia. The programme covered the work that is already taking place, with much sharing of content and new content type development. Here are some of the highlights, conference resources can be found here.

The keynote

Svein-Tore Griff With’s talk inspired and amazed in equal measure and revealled plans to create a content hub so that users could find resources from around the world that they could use. One of most interesting aspects was a way to ensure copyright clearance and permissions from inside the hub itself, ensuring careful management of copyright in the resuse of content.

Other announcements centred on refining some of the content types and making it easier to open up to more sophisticated and complex objects, including the use of active surface to better present image galleries.

There was thoughtful challenge from the conference around H5P’s mission statements and it was clear that educators and developers had taken ownership and responsibility for H5P in the same way as it’s founders.

  • Make interactive content flow freely
  • Democratise interactive content
  • Empower everyone to make interactive content

This manifested itself more widely in the progress that many have made in terms of developing their own content and in many cases adding and adapting new content types both to meet their own needs, but also playfully, because they could.

Developing new content types

Oliver Tacke’s new content type, Essay which provides immediate feedback for learners by analysing keywords in a text and scoring the user on how many are used. This is a perfect content type for book reviews and comprehension and suggests other content types in the future that might use AI to analyse answers.

Just an image (don’t try and click it)

Other new types included clever use of tiles to create online crosswords, ways to use audio to teach language skills and a neat trick to use active surface mode in course presentations.

Accessibility and xAPI

The excellent work of the team was highlighted in terms of ensuring accessibility throughout H5P, and the simplicity of design was layed out in a demo that involved Thomas Mars creating content whilst blindfolded using a chrome extension called Chromevox. Certainly H5P performs well and it’s great to see a company put accessibility front and foremost in their development.

For many educators, the final piece of the H5P jigsaw is around analytics, and we received an excellent presentation from Tim looking at ways to use xAPI (Tin Can) with a Leaning Record Store to capture more learner interactions in from within the content types.

In our institution, H5P is used to create objects which deliver learning, check learning and contribute to formative assessment, and the work around the API may provide future content types that could be used in summative assessment.

Slide from the keynote — proud to support H5P

Bringing it home

One of the most interesting take-aways was the need to ensure H5P objects are shared and distributed, which is a challenge not just globally but within the same institution. H5P made me think about the huge number of resources that could be shared, adapted and re-used but are hidden out of sight or inaccessible via Blackboard, personal hardrives and even WordPress sites. Institutions just have to become better at sharing and everyone has to take responsibility in creating an environment to safeguard sharing and reuse, let alone open resources.

Currently H5P is being created on WordPress and Drupal, we’ve talked about educators creating content via a dedicated University site, much like the H5P one, if only to better support and help to share content as it grows.

H5P needs to stop being the best kept secret and word needs to spread around the institution of its use and benefit. The quality of resources has been much commented on in NSS feedback and there is an opportunity for progress to be made into blended learning by ensuring educators and staff have the right tools, platforms and frameworks at their fingertips.

A final note to say how much fun it was and how much pleasure we experienced in seeing other people’s work. The energy of the conference and the passion of the people involved in H5P reflects the enjoyment you should encounter is all areas of learning. It really does feel that H5P is at the start of a journey and it will be interesting to see where next.