ACRL Presentation on H5P

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Picture of a microphone
Photo by Greenmonster via Flickr CC-BY-NC-SA


This past weekend I had the great pleasure (and privilege) of presenting at the 2015 Association of College and Research Libraries national conference in Portland, Oregon. My presentation sought to introduce academic librarians to H5P and highlight how using open sources tools and platforms for creating online instructional content helps our community deliver on the promise of open educational resources.

Too often I see great online instructional materials that are licensed with Creative Commons licenses, but that were built using closed, proprietary software. These kinds of materials seriously limit the amount of reuse and customization that others can perform. Particularly if you do not have the access or funds for the particular commercial software.


Of course, there are good reasons that eLearning Authoring software has been used. Mainly, up until recently, there really hasn’t been much competition in the form of open source software solutions. I believe that this is all about to change, and I see H5P as a major light towards the future. Also keep an eye on Adapt, which looks beautiful and amazing, but needs some fairly serious technical setup to get running on your own. Content creators will still need to pull the pieces together, but H5P gets you 90% of the way there, and the other 10% is easily accomplished through your content management system. Plus H5P keeps getting better all the time. Just recently they introduced some great updates, including interactive videos that can now link to YouTube, improved embed codes and Tin Can xAPI.

Using H5P to Create HTML5 Open Educational Resources

In honor of Open Access Week (October 20 – 26, 2014), which kicked off a few days ago, I want to write a bit about a great tool H5P that I use to create HTML5 Open Educational Resources (OER).


I have been using H5P throughout the development of the online information literacy tutorial that just launched at Western at the start of fall quarter. This tutorial really couldn’t have come together without H5P. Or at least it would have been much less interactive and much more difficult to update and make variations.

Big Dreams

In developing this online tutorial, I quickly realized that there was a big gap between what I wanted to create – namely interactive online lessons – and what was possible with our library’s Drupal setup. The big vision for this project was creating an online platform for our librarians to easily create attractive, engaging, interactive lessons. Of course we would need to add text, video and photos to lesson pages, but we also would need to create and maintain presentations and questions embedded into the same pages. I had created a list of system requirements for my tutorial system, and held numerous meetings with our IT department, but the gap between what we needed and what was possible just wouldn’t go away. There were lots of good reasons for this, and some not so good reasons.

Screenshot of H5P websiteWe have limited resources and limited technical support available, yet we wanted to create a suite of online lessons  built with openness in mind from the beginning. For this project, open means the lessons will be Creative Commons licensed, use readily available OERs where appropriate, be built on open platforms, and be easily reused and remixed by others in and out of our organization. I’m a big fan of OERs and I am amazed at the willingness of the community to share their hard work, but I have also run into barriers to adopting OERs to alternative platforms. Or worse yet, quasi-OERs created with proprietary software – like tutorials built with Articulate Storyline. You may have CC licensed it, but how is someone else supposed to reuse it without buying that software?

Then I found this tool H5P, and although it doesn’t address every single one of my particular needs, it gets me about nine-tenths of the way there, effectively making the gap something I can leap right over.


I highly recommend checking H5P out and considering what it could do for your tutorials and your online instruction. There are a lot of examples of various content types on the H5P site and you can also see it in action throughout Western Libraries‘ tutorial LIT that I developed. For LIT, I mostly used the presentation content type, question sets and flashcards, but I am excited to figure out great uses of other content types in the future. I really think this is a great tool and it’s future looks really bright. I would love to see this integrated into LibGuides. They would really compliment each other so well.

Let me know if you have questions about this tool or need help giving it a try. I would love to hear how you want to use this. Have you found an innovative use of H5P or a similar tool?

Canva + ThingLink = Awesome

Earlier this week I led a Tech Sandbox on these two tools for everyone in our library. The session went pretty well despite some running into issues with the computers in the labs. Everyone seemed to really latch onto the usefulness of ThingLink in their work. Here is an instructional example I created using both tools to explain what to look for in database results.

Canva was a little more difficult for some to connect to their work, which I’m not totally surprised by. Prticipants seem to think that others are better at taking care of graphic design and they don’t think that they produce much graphic content. In the future I will try to find ways to highlight some of the graphic work that they are already doing. Maybe I can even find examples for each participant from their LibGuides and other materials. If I knew who was going to participate in advance. Then we could focus on revising these works with Canva. My session plan included directions for working on work-related graphics for the activity, but most were playing without much direction. I’d like to harness that playfulness, but find authentic ways to give it some direction.

With that in mind, my emerging thought is to put together post-session activities that require participants to apply their skills to a graphic project that actually could be used in their work. I will also offer digital badges for completion of these activities. There is some rising interest in badges on our campus and in our library, but badges are still a bit mysterious to many. This will let us see them in action. Plus the Tech Sandboxes will be a low stakes way for me to work out the kinks of badging for professional development and workshops. I hope this will lead to build out a badging ecosystem offered through the library and our Learning Commons partners for students, faculty and staff.

Guide on the Side Icon

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Graphic for a tutorial iconYesterday I created this draft icon for launching Guide on the Side tutorials. I’ve been working with University of Arizona Libraries‘ wonderful program for the last year or so and it figures largely in new research tutorial I am getting ready to unleash upon the world. I created this icon or graphic in an attempt to provide users with a consistent way to launch a tutorial. I’m pretty happy with how this came out, at least for a draft. If you love this icon or would like a customized one with your school’s colors I am happy to share. It’s a small thing compared to what UA has given the community, but hey, we all have to start somewhere.

The icon itself was created with the fantastically easy to use Canva, which I will be talking about tomorrow for Western Libraries kickoff summer Tech Sandbox session. Canva is a free, web-based design tool that features an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. It has a bunch of great layouts to get you started. What I love the most is the vast array of graphic elements that can be customized and mixed together – like the little yellow guys and the button. I didn’t do too much to the little guys other than adding a book and adjusting sizes. I’ve been sharing this tool with some of my colleagues here who have an obvious need, but I’m really excited to bring it to a wider audience tomorrow to see how it can help others. Also, I have to mention that the Canva tutorials that are made in the program itself are totally brilliant. Basically they are slides in Canva that are editable, so they have directions and examples, then they give you a chance to make changes right in the program.

OneTab for Research Consultation

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Do you open lots of tabs when helping patrons at your reference desk or in your office? Ever wished you could easily send all of the great stuff you found to the person you are helping? OneTab is a free Chrome extension that allows you to do just that. Basically it condenses all of your tabs into one list. You can then restore the tabs on your list as you need them, or restore them all at once. This list can also be titled and shared with others. Here is a short list of LIS Open Access Journals I quickly created as an example.

Picture of research desk at WWU

At The Desk


I have found OneTab to be really helpful in my reference work because I can quickly condense all of the resources the patron and I found into one convenient link. It is most useful for research that involves a lot of weblinks, less useful for articles behind paywalls (see downsides section below). Another nice thing about this is that if the patron is willing to let me email them the link, then we both have each other’s contact info. I don’t know about you, but with more in-depth research help, I frequently think of a few other sources or techniques after the patron leaves. Typically I would have no way to provide any follow up, but now that I am using OneTab with certain kinds of questions, I do have a way to follow up. From my experience, students really like this and I have yet to have anyone turn down getting emailed the links from our consultation session. It saves both of us the trouble of writing things down and it can be a nice reminder for the patron.


Other Uses


OneTab is also nice for personal use. It saves computing power to use OneTab, they claim it can save up to 95% of your memory. I also use it at the end of the day so that I can pick up from the same spot again tomorrow. For personal use, OneTab can keep multiple lists from your previous sessions.  I have also begun to play with using it as a tidy way to make bibliographies of web resources. You can also do nice value added things like providing a link to class LibGuide, the library homepage or a page with your contact information. When you share a list of tabs it generates a QR code, which is cool, or at least not a bad thing, but I think the QR moment has passed and I don’t know if its coming back.



The only downside I have found with this tool is that some of our library resources, like subscription databases, are not able to link and restore the way other web pages do. Unless I am missing something, I have yet to find a way to edit a URL in OneTab and make a workaround for this issue. I tried using permalinks, but unfortunately, you can’t save a page until you load it, and once you paste a permalink and hit enter to load the page, the url no longer holds that permalink. I wish there was a way to manually edit a URL in OneTab for these kind of cases. Until a permalink solution in OneTab, you could create a web document with a list of permalinks and add that document to the OneTab set you are sharing. Even with this limitation, I have found OneTab to be very useful and I highly recommend giving it a try and seeing how it could fit into your workflows.