Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Creating rapid eLearning activities (H5P)

As I have used H5P in previous roles over a number of years in creating blended and distance eLearning materials, I highly recommend it to for creating interactive eLearning content.  I was very quick to bring this into my Digital Practice Adviser role at Nottingham Trent University (NTU).  Not only did I want to bring a new tool to the organisation, but my previous experience and expertise in creating eLearning content provided a strong mandate to increase interactive eLearning content across programmes and the university Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).  Creating rapid eLearning activities is a much needed skill and resource and one I mention in my Learning Technology book.

NTU is using eLearning in many ways on many programmes and in professional services.  However, there is no rapid eLearning content creation tool for academic staff and one that is easily accessible.  Yes there is access to Articulate Storyline/Rise and Adobe products, but they require specialist skills to use and come with a cost, both in the product and staff training.  You wouldn't expect academic staff to pick one of those tools up to learn and use, along with their already hectic jobs.  Another main reason was that the VLE continues to be a repository (argument of the century).  Emphasis on the L - learning, it should be about accessing a VLE and participating in eLearning materials and self-directed resources to support one's learning, not just downloading documents.  Again mentioned in my book in a very detailed (and illustrated) section on VLEs and using them effectively.

I said this in a recent conversation on the ALT Mailing List that's worth a mention:

"Like many others have stated, I find H5P an excellent and really useful tool to create eLearning activities.  Especially for those who can't/won't use complex authoring software.  I agree that some elements are 'shallow', however I am coming from the viewpoint of an educator creating activities out of resources, that are more interactive and appealing rather than a Word, PDF or PowerPoint uploaded onto the VLE - we all know the challenge with this.

I am currently developing a workshop 'Creating rapid eLearning activities' at NTU.  This is a new staff development opportunity for NTU staff and one I hope will become a staple offer.  Academic staff will be shown how to adapt their 'static/passive' resources into online interactive activities.  Emphasis on rapid, I am not aiming for polished eLearning products but rough and ready on a take and reshape approach.  Academics will not be taught how to be instructional design experts, but be given some tools to create and develop online activities, aligned to their pedagogical requirements.  I'm working on getting a plugin installed for our VLE."

So around January 2018 I initiated the process to get H5P into the digital ecosystem.  I believe this was the first known request and push for H5P, being told there was no previous knowledge or evidence on other attempts.  I started off doing a critical evaluation of where it sits in the suite of similar tools we already have access to at NTU - see below.

I communicated the evaluation and my intentions with the eLearning manager based in the academy.  They recommended that I log s support request with their team to get a test plugin to help support the case.  From thereon I could organise pilot workshops to introduce H5P and to obtain further feedback, to collect necessary information to produce a proposal for the VLE to have it permanently integrated.

Meanwhile, I planned and designed a pilot workshop that I have delivered a number of times.  It was both to test the waters with a view of the workshop going university-wide.  My direction has since changed where I am developing a pedagogical framework and strategy to support H5P moving forwards.  To deliver the workshop, I had to recycle a room and work with an hour slot.  So I used this to my advantage by making a 'flipped' H5P activity for participants to access before attending.  The workshop has two parts - Part 1 is online where participants will access preamble, knowledge and some frameworks for guidance via H5P (and to see an activity as an end user).  Participants are encouraged to log into H5P and get familiar with it and source some content to use to make their own eLearning activity.  Part 2 is a practical workshop in building their activities and being supported throughout.

Here's some main reasons I introduced and am leading on the pedagogical support of H5P:

  • Free
  • Ease of use (little technical knowledge required - not specialist software)
  • Turn static/downloadable documents into online interactive activities
  • Powerful interactions
  • Ownership and contextualisation
  • Reuse existing content (PowerPoint, Word etc)
  • Embed into VLEs, websites and blogs (no login required)

Response so far

As a result of doing this (still early stages):

  • Very positive response with eager uptake
  • The tool has spread like wildfire, academics, researchers and a central eLearning team are now using it - proves it is needed
  • Requested and delivered two bespoke workshops (with more in the pipeline)

Future development/plans

  • Lobby plugin for university VLE - this is a long term project (currently in progress) in getting H5P to be used within the VLE.  I am writing an proposal to argue the case of why it is needed, the benefits of this, the risks of not doing this etc
  • Positive feedback to develop future workshops/consultations
  • Developing a pedagogical framework
  • Developing a strategy to promote, encourage and support academics using
  • Question: many teachers only concentrate on assessment and check learning there.  Not so much the conveying of information during the process of learning.  How can I help them convey their information through H5P?

I further endorse H5P in my following webinars:
I'll update this blog post as these developments occur.


Informed by a December 2019 H5P email, I communicated the following in my organisation...

It has come to my attention that H5P has sent out this communication 'Why you shouldn't create content on H5P.org'.

Basically the free site is becoming add-based with limited functionality and reliability.  I suggest that you read this and refrain from creating and hosting content on the free site, H5P.org.  NTU are currently exploring options for a long-term subscription which works within our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).  No timescales have been set yet but a group of us are testing the integration at the moment.  I will keep you informed.

For security of your H5P objects, I recommend that you download your content which can then be uploaded to H5P, should we get a subscription. To do this: in each of your H5P objects, if you enable the download buttons when in edit mode, then view the activity as a student/participant, at the bottom you will see a button called ‘reuse’.  Click on it and download the file.  Keep this safe for when we get H5P.com which you can then upload to it and work as normal.

I have cancelled all future scheduled and bespoke workshops until we have a permanent solution in place.  However, feel free to contact me directly if you have any queries.

I suggest you advise any colleagues who are using H5P live in their VLE courses and to make appropriate back up plans, should you experience any issues with the content.