Interactive Videos and H5P

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This is my third post for a series in which I develop and appraise English language learning activities using the web-based program H5P. For other posts in the series, please click on the tag H5P.

Ever since the advent of Youtube, there has been a near endless amount of video content that can be used for instructional and educational purposes. Nowadays, when a person needs to learn about a topic or how to complete an unfamiliar task, usually the logical next step is to see if there is a Youtube video to explain the dynasties of the Mongol empire or the basic steps for installing a kitchen sink. Likewise, for English language teachers, when a textbook — or even the instructor — has reached the limits of their explaining power, it makes sense to employ videos in order to introduce unfamiliar topics, teach language concepts, and serve as authentic materials.

However, simply watching a video in class is not necessarily the best use of a learner’s time — especially if it is a passive activity merely to expose students to the content or information. A long video might prompt a Pavlovian response in students to tune out and check their phones while the video plays in the background; after all, this is how many multi-tasking Millennials and Gen Z-ers study. So, how does an instructor get students to focus and pay attention to the carefully curated video that they want to show in class?

One way might be to stop the video at different intervals and ask students questions, but this forces the entire class to watch and understand the video at the same herky-jerky rate, which might be problematic in a class with students of mixed proficiencies. A better option might be to allow the students to self-pace by watching the requisite video on their phones. The instructor could additionally provide the students with questions they need to complete while watching the video to help keep students focused and on task. The next stage in this activity evolution is to do without a paper-based set of questions by using H5P to embed the questions in the video.

The other week in ENGL 252: English for Communication II Business, an instructor shared with all course instructors a video that would help students visualize examples of good and bad behaviors during class presentations. While I believed the video was useful, I thought that it ran through a lot of information quite quickly in 2 minutes and 28 seconds. I wanted to slow down the video so that viewers might think about and process the information more carefully. In addition, I wanted to experiment with an H5P Interactive Video. And this is how my first interactive video was created.

The first step, after logging into my account, was to upload or provide the URL to Interactive Video Editor of the video that I wished to use.

The second step was to add all the interactions (or questions) that I wished to use throughout the video. This sounds simple, but it actually took me over an hour to finish because I was learning about the functionality of the Interactive Video Editor as I proceeded.

In the Add interactions tab, there are eight different type of interactions that you can insert in a video:

  • Statements
  • Single Choice Set
  • Multiple Choice
  • True/False Questions
  • Fill in the Blank
  • Drag and Drop
  • Mark the Word
  • Drag the Text

For my experiment, I decided to add a series of True/False Questions and a Statements interaction during the first half of the video, and then for the last half of the video, I added a Drag the Text interaction. As I added these interactions, I set each one to display at a specific time and to pause the video. The interactions would also appear as a poster that would fill the video screen.

The reason why I selected these options was to make sure the viewer of my video would have to complete the interaction before moving on. Additionally, I didn’t want the poster to obscure more than one second of video.

Once I created all my questions, I determined that I needed to provide the user of my interactive video with some instructions, so I added text boxes to the first and second half of the video for minimum guidance.

This is the fast and dirty explanation of how I created my first H5P Interactive Video. While I could certainly provide a more thorough breakdown of the steps and deliberations that I took, I don’t want to lead you into the weeds. The gist of what I did is sufficient, and instead, I would encourage you to try my first video creation for yourself in order to decide if this would be a worthwhile classroom activity.

Pros

First, of the H5P activities that I created so far, this one has been the most innovative and immediately useful. After refining my interactive video more, I shared it with other course instructors, and their feedback was pretty positive. What makes this activity exciting for me is that it incorporate gamfication, ICT, multimedia, self-paced learning, and learning autonomy into one package.

Second, I tested the interactive video on my phone and didn’t have any problems viewing the video or interfacing with the questions — unlike the Drag the Word activity I created and discussed in my previous post.

Finally, the prospect of creating a bank of interactive videos for pre-learning, in-class, or review activities is quite promising. An instructor teaching a particular language skill or group of instructors teaching a specific course could easily create a bank of supplemental interactive videos to be used and re-used for different teaching purposes.

Cons

First, maybe I overlooked something during my pilot of the Interactive Video, but I was unable to get my interactions to provide a running score of correct and incorrect answers. In order to properly gamify the activity, a complete running score would serve as a better motivators to learners.

Second, as far as I can tell, there is no way for an instructor to track student data in order to determine who watched the video and how well they answered the questions. I believe a similar Interactive Video creation program, Playposit, offers this capabilities.

Finally, some of the interactions didn’t quite work the way that I wanted them to. I was unable to figure out how to make multiple statements true in the Statements interaction, so I just created multiple True/False Questions. Still, through trial and error, an instructor could determine which interactions work best for their particular learning objectives — or at least figure out a sufficient work around.

Summary

Interactive videos are a very promising way of tapping into the abundance of educational video content on Youtube and increasing the likelihood that students will engage with the video information as an active participant. These videos consolidate content and questions into one URL that is easily shared with students and employed by them.

[Note: While writing this post, I was mostly focused on using interactive videos in class and not for self-directed learning or flipped classroom purposes; however, I am cognizant of how the videos might lend themselves to these types of learning. Additionally, after being required at work to attend several cursory meetings, I was imagining how interactive videos might be used by a program or department to cover orientation and training information in a more efficient and engaging manner.]

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