Use HTML5 Content for Student-Content Interaction on a Digital Course

I have recently been introduced to H5P

H5P logo

This is a website catch phrase:   which pretty much explains what you can do with it.

But what is HTML5 content you ask.

First off, you need to know that HTML5 is a version of HTML, the coding language used to create webpages on the internet. HTML has been around since 1993 and has evolved from that first version to the current HTML5. [Here is a website from the University of Washington with a nice brief history of HTML | Here is a FULL and awesome explanation of HTML5, including a history of HTML from ]

Using HTML5 to create a website means you are using the most updated version of this coding language for  your project. As instructors in 2021, you create websites when you create a class in Blackboard, in Canvas, in Google Classrooms, or even using a free website hosting service like,, or WordPress. Some of us create our sites using a combination of these web-building services, HTML editors like Dreamweaver, CoffeeCup or BlueGriffon and good-old fashioned hard-coding HTML. You can still code a simple website using the 1993 version of HTML, but it will be a static, rather pedestrian site. If you want more dynamic content such as video and audio you need more than simple HTML tags to get the job done.

In the early days of HTML, to get audio or video to play on your website you need a plug in, like Quicktime from Apple or Realplayer. There was also Java and Flash — remember those messages you used to get about updating your Quicktime or Flash plugin? That’s because these plugin applications (software programs) were created and maintained by companies, not the individual webpage creator, and these companies were always updating their software, improving it for functionality but primarily for security. Security is a big deal in regard to plugins because you are downloading and installing software on your computer and during that process you give it access to your computer’s operating system (the ‘OS’ or in other words, your computer’s executive functioning — the ‘thinking’ part of its digital brain).  Even if you read all the details in the ‘Terms and Conditions” statements, its really difficult to know exactly how a piece of software will affect your computer’s OS, and in the case a nefarious actors, they did not want you to know this any way.

Beyond security concerns, mobile computing is another factor that makes HTML that required plugins to work a bad thing. When HTML was first created, we did not have smartphones like we have today. If you had a cell phone in the mid to late 1990s, you had a Motorola flip phone, a Nokia ‘candy bar’ phone, or perhaps even a Blackberry (if someone convinced you to dump your ‘more than a pager’ Palm Pilot). Then in 2007 Apple released its first iPhone, and everyone was ready for a smartphone [Here is a quick explanation of smartphones and straight up mobile phones; here is another one.]  Smartphones are basically really super-mobile computers, and people have begun expecting them to act as such. And then there is the other category of mobile computing — tablets. These ‘in-between a mobile phone and a computer’ devices confuse the matter even more because most people view them as small laptop computers because they look like the top of a laptop screen and function very much life smartphones, especially if you get one with cellular connectivity to the internet, not simply WiFi access to the internet. Yet, there is one key difference between these mobile devices and traditional computers — their operating systems. Mobile device OSs are smaller and designed for ‘lighter’ computing than a desktop or laptop computer, which means they cannot process files the same way these other OSs do.  What really matters here, is that you cannot add plugins to them, so when you try to run a webpage that needs an audio or video plug into run content on it, you can’t get that content to run. Student who try using iPads for websites that require plugins are not going to be able to use those websites. That was a common problem for students for students using iPads and not being able to use early versions of Blackboard.

Such a long story and we are not done yet! The problems with plugins for security and mobile conflicts is one reason the evolution of HTML has come to HTML5. Programmers began working on HTML in the 2000s, and it was officially released in 2014. It is the current version of HTML. What really matters for you, is that HTML5 eliminated the need for plugins on websites to run dynamic content such as videos, audio, interactive forms — even animated graphics

So that’s it! HTML content is dynamic content on a webpage.

As to H5P, it stands for “HTML5 Package” and its purpose is “to make it easy for everyone to create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content.[2][3] Interactive videos, interactive presentations, quizzes, interactive timelines and more[4] have been developed and shared using H5P on ” (Wikipedia 2021).

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized February 16, 2021

36 Questions to Help Create a Classroom Tribe


Creating a Learning Tribe Means Making Real Connections

As a new academic year approaches, I am thinking about ways to get and keep my students engaged in our class, and a significant part of that is getting them to connect with one another as they can influence one another’s attitudes and ideas.

Back in 1997 published results of his study about creating closeness (see “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings“) and many people have used the 36 questions from his experiment as a way to increase closeness. As this Psychology Today article points out, two people asking and answering these questions takes about 45 minutes, so it would be hard to use up an entire class period to do in class — and I think pairs might feel more comfortable in a different setting anyway.

As a result, I am considering using this as an “early in the semester” getting to know one another assignment. The information from the “interview” can be used for a partner assignment: each person writes up an introduction to their partner

  • only the partner sees the first draft –> and gives feedback about that information he/she would like shared with the class
  • instructor sees the second draft –> feedback comes in the form of rhetorical and language use “improvement”
  • the third draft is shown to the partner who gives final approval on content
  • final drafts are posted on password protected class website as written introductions of “tribe members”

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized August 12, 2015

Fear Not Statistics

fear-of-statstics  It has been years since my last statistics class, and most of the number crunching I do these days is fairly standard stuff like creating formulas for grading in Excel or Google spreadsheets, so now when it is time crunch more data, I need a refresher.

Here are websites that will make your statistical life as a writing & rhetoric scholar a little easier:

  1.   —  a good basic introduction to statistics for writers
  2. — a handout with terms and advice for using what test when –> be sure to scroll to the bottom.
  3. from — a website that presents “an attempt to summarize vital parts of research and make the scientific method more available to laypersons.”
  4. — statistics tutorials using MS Excel 
  5. —  tutorials (Introduction, Basics, Functions, Data Analysis and VBA) on how to use MS Excel


1 comment Posted in  Uncategorized December 10, 2014

Academic Writing as Scholarly Mashups

Every year DJ Earworm makes a mashup of the popular songs from the year … and it makes a new song (and video) in itself.  Here’s the one for 2014:

As I have been commenting on student papers, it has dawned on me that using scholarly sources in your own paper is like creating a DJ Earworm mashup: you reply on the fact that people know the full songs (or at least can go look them up on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, etc) and you only need to take a small but key portion of the song and “put in in conversation” with the other songs related to you topic to create something bigger than the sum of all the parts taken separately (see  this webpage and this video to see information about the conversations in a Burkean Parlor for the “put in a conversation” reference). In other words, you have a jammin gestalt.
So how do you get sources “in conversation”? It’s tricky, but here’s the advice I gave a student:

Start with a “bigger” main idea of your own that you then get each source to “comment” on (present an idea from the source using a quote). After, or during, the comment of one source, join in with your own words and “interpret” the idea presented in that first quote by explaining how you see it “fitting into” your main idea and possibly also using that explanation to tie in an idea (quote) from one of other sources.  You are trying to get a good mashup here … it’s not just one song (scholarly source) you are playing, but samples from different song (scholarly sources) that you are finding the best way to fit together to create a new sound … a new track that is a mashup of the different samples you take, one that is your creation but a creation that relies on, is built from, the work of others.

This is all I have time for now … it IS the end of the semester and grades are due @ the end of the week.

2 comments Posted in  Uncategorized December 7, 2014

Disappointment as a Teaching Tool

My title sounds a bit barbaric, but I got the idea from listening to a Radiolab broadcast about morality in which a woman talks about a game she played in her third grade class.

While she learned a lot of lessons during the role play, the comment she made that stuck with me is that her teacher’s disappointment in her was the greatest factor that caused her to learn something about herself.

Head in Hands

I’m not into negative motivation as the basis of my teaching, but there is something to be said about its power when you have a relationship with a student and you are genuinely disappointed in him/her. There is great power in that to cause the student to move toward self reflection and self-learning.

There is more to think about this.

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized July 13, 2014

Student Identification and Acknowledgement

Since I can remember, my household  has had a copy of The Reader’s Digest.  It was always on the reading table next to the lounger in the family room of my parents’ house, and it was one of my “go-to” magazines. After I graduated college, my mom started gifting me a yearly subscription and we keep it in our house for “quick reading” opportunities and even my teenagers confess to reading it.

That said, I found an interesting short article in the 2014 edition about how a fifth grade teacher uses an index card system to get to know her students better, in particular to keep an eye out for which students need a little extra attention in terms of personal interaction. The teacher uses it as a method to help build empathy and decrease bullying in her classroom, all in an indirect way that does not “preach” to them.

I think some form of her method would be useful in college classrooms too. Here are links to the article and a Today Show piece about the teacher:

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized June 6, 2014

Next Year in ENGH 121-122!

  1. Get them to write childhood “learning” memories early on — journaling 
    • While an entire lit narrative at this point will get them confused as what a “common” college writing assignment for history, econ, psych needs to look like, getting them to write moments will:
      • give us a window onto them as individuals (as people and as learners)
      • give us some raw text to use for grammar analysis (and which can be built upon)
      • give students a chance to reconnect with their past experiences in a reflective process (which they may not have had to do in school before).
  2. Do a crapload of reading early on
    • teach marking early
      • patterns of main idea and support
        • blue-green-yellow
        • outlining
      • annotation
        • left=topic/main idea in own word
        • right=author’s purpose
        • backside of text (blank space) write summary in own words
    • fast student written responses in class as quick quizzes– can use marked text
    • in a “Commonbook” (paper or digital) students collect three sentences a week that they like/find interesting
      • copy it into the book (by hand with pen or by typing –> no C&P
      • have students ID grammar forms we cover that week in these sentences
  3. Vocabulary –> do my old cards (paper or digital) but add “other forms” category on each card
  4. Before getting to the ALA,
    • Do some Aristotle workAristotle
      • Independent = bring in different types of texts & have students “look @ their fish” to come up with descriptions that differentiate and classify them
      • Guided = have students watch the article types video and complete the cloze worksheet

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized May 16, 2014

Literacy Narratives & Some of My Favorite Books as a Kid

These last weeks of the semester in ENGH 122, we are working on literacy narratives. The assignment asks students to write about two moments of learning to read or write, in either their first or second+ language(s). After that, they will look for a connection between the stories that says something about their literacy development.

To get them started, we encourage them to write about specific moments in detail. Helping the students with this, made me think of early literacy moments and some of the first books I remember returning to over and over as a young kid.

Here are a few of them:



And, believe or not, I really liked reading SRA cards:


Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized April 24, 2014

Teaching Layers of Paragraphs Development

  1. Use Kermit & “It Isn’t Easy Being Green”

  2. Serve Smith Island Cake to students who consistently write well developed paragraphs
    • and serve those with no development no cake and
    • those with minimal development one layer cake 😉SmithIslandCake

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized March 29, 2014

Lecture Capture – make that, Lecture Creation and Release – Performance Art

Just the other day I was talking with colleagues about the reality that teaching is performance art. You certainly have to know your “lines,” but simply knowing your lines is not enough. Good delivery is also important.

And now with lecture capture becoming more commonplace and easy to set up, it is time for me to consider doing it myself. This article from Campus Technology introduces some key ideas to contemplate: Lecture Capture: Lights! Camera! Action!

The primary benefit of lecture capture seems to me to be the idea of front-loading: have the students watch a multimedia-rich lecture that introduces ideas you want them to interact with – critical thinking, actually completing an activity – like a lab or peer review — and then during class time you have students actually DO the interaction.

I can easily doing this for:

  • peer review explanation/education (teach them what they need to look for, provide examples of yourself or other students doing this)
  • grammar education — take my old ppt and turn it into this format
  • modeling presentations
    • good ones
    • bad ones

I can build these lectures into media-rich resources that students can watch and re-watch as much as they like or need … and if they say they don’t understand the material I can ask them to re-watch the lecture, take notes, bring the notes into my office (as proof that they did indeed try to understand it) where we can go over the video lecture together. We can stop and rewind the video as much as needed and I can explicate and/or expand upon ideas as needed to help the student develop a full understanding of the material. Such an interaction still puts me in the position of informant/information provider, but it also greatly expands (and highlights) my roll as facilitator/coach, allowing me to model critical thinking and analysis with my students. Way more fun … and much more productive for the students in the long-run.

In reality, I would no really be doing lecture capture as much as lecture production and release … sounds kind of like “catch and release,” which I like …. hmmm, maybe I’ll have to call my process “Create and Release.” Ya … I like that.

I SO have to implement this.

Add comment Posted in  intructional technology ,Uncategorized  Tagged:  June 15, 2011

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