Using the content authoring tool H5P to create interactive learning material

Sue Robbins is Senior Lecturer in English Language, and Director of Continuing Professional Development in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities.

In this case study Sue describes using H5P to create interactive learning tasks in an online English language development course for international students.

What is H5P?

H5P is a content creation tool that allows you to create rich interactive content that can be embedded in a Canvas page. There is a wide range of task types including interactive videos, quizzes and games (see the full list of activity types).

There are a number of ways in which H5P activities can help enhance the learning process and encourage learner engagement. For example, you can create tasks which allow you to:

  • Build in opportunities for learners to check their understanding as they work through course material.
  • Sequence activities in order to scaffold learning.
  • Share activities with your learners that allow them to self-evaluate their learning and receive formative feedback.
  • Design activities that prepare learners for group, seminar or presentation tasks in advance.
  • Offer learners a variety of ways of engaging with the course material.
  • Support learners to develop skills and approaches that suit their discipline.
  • Supply automated feedback (with scope for added commentary) to support learners in their understanding of the material.
  • Create flipped learning content.
  • Create revision activities for your learners.

Here is a sample task that is designed to help English language learners read and understand infographics and talk about statistical information. It uses the ‘Course Presentation’ tool to group the activities and ‘Fill in the Blanks’ to check understanding.

What was the learning or teaching issue that prompted this innovation?

Online learning has been in the media regularly over the past year – not without controversy. On the publication of this year’s HEPI/AdvanceHE Student Academic Experience survey Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, suggested that that ‘the sector must ensure the new era of blended learning is a route to students doing a greater volume of effective academic work rather than it being used as a reason to reduce student engagement.’ Finding myself unexpectedly in this ‘new era of blended learning’ and interested in learning how to teach better in this mode, I used some of my scholarship time to engage in professional development opportunities to that end. Neil Stokes, head of digital learning and teaching at De Montfort University, notes in this THE article that as academics have a good understanding of the technology required to teach online what we now need to think about is “how can you build … communities, how can you make sessions interactive, how can you make them more engaging?” With online learning being a mode, not a pedagogy or an approach, what matters is the learning design – the active cognitive tasks that we ask students to do. Using H5P is a practical way to build interactivity into tasks and make the learning more engaging.

How did you ensure that the innovation was accessible to all?

Once the materials were written I worked with a member of the TEL team to build the online course in Canvas. We worked collaboratively to consider how best to make the navigation as accessible as possible to students unfamiliar with the platform and drew on the principles of instructional design to consider the pedagogic implications of asking students to work remotely with the site. We also considered a wide range of digital accessibility issues, including the accessibility of the H5P tasks. H5P.com maintain an overview of the accessibility of the various H5P content types. Providing students with online or blended options can increase the range of possibilities open to them and thereby improve inclusivity.

What impact did this have on the student experience?

The online material was used as a self-access resource this Summer (used both in and out of classroom) for international students on campus for a short language development course. Feedback was positive with all students agreeing that it was easy to navigate the online materials and they knew what they had to do at every stage. They appreciated the automated feedback provided by the H5P tasks, enjoyed the interactivity and task variety and thought it was ‘fun’. Importantly, they were able to notice an improvement in their English, even in the space of a few weeks.

It seems important, therefore, that we embrace the process of change and continue developing online/blended learning opportunities to support leaning and build on the good it can bring about for equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Interested in using H5P with your own students?

If you’d like to explore H5P please note you will need to purchase your own licence. Educational Enhancement are happy to demonstrate H5P to you and speak to you further about how to use it in your teaching activities. For up-to-date information on pricing, please visit h5p.com. Whilst Educational Enhancement can’t arrange licences on your behalf, they can signpost you to colleagues who will be able to advise.

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