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

February 16, 2021

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 html.com ]

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 wix.com, squarespace.com, 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 H5P.org ” (Wikipedia 2021).

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