This blog post is based on an event chaired by David Yeats with presenters Nikki Anderson and Simon Lolliot during UTS’s Open Education Week. For more detail, view a full recording of the event (57 mins).

H5P is an authoring tool that allows you to enhance your Canvas subject site with rich interactive learning content and activities. It has many benefits, such as ease of access and a variety of content types, and the content can result in engaging, interactive learning experiences for students. We engaged the University of Southern Queensland’s Nikki Andersen and the University of British Columbia’s Simon Lolliot to understand the opportunities and considerations for using H5P to create accessible OERs (Open Educational Resources).

Accessibility and Open Education

Nikki noted that accessibility of content is more than just ensuring it meets digital accessibility standards – it’s about making the content meaningful, usable, inclusive and trauma-informed.

OERs were described by Simon as content that is “freely available to use, reuse, adapt and remix.” This style of resource can alleviate the financial stress of students hit with hidden costs, impacting negatively on their wellbeing. Simon had recently introduced H5P activities to an OpenStax Psychology Textbook investigating interactivity’s impact on learning and advocating for screen-reader accessibility.

So, while there’s a crossover in terms of how both digital accessibility and OERs can improve equity and wellbeing, it’s important to note that ‘open’ does not always equal ‘access’.

Content branded as open may give the impression that OER is universally accessible and inclusive. However, this isn’t true, because many users still face barriers to access and inclusion. [Open Education] doesn’t always equal inclusion and just putting content onto open platforms doesn’t automatically make it accessible.

Nikki Andersen

Why H5P?

There are pros and cons to adopting H5P for open educational resources that are accessible. Genuine efforts are being made to improve the tool’s accessibility behind the scenes, though much of H5P is still not accessible to screen readers. In the end, it’s the content creator, not the tool, who has the agency to make decisions that will ensure the OERs are accessible to all.

This resource is particularly useful for guidance on how to make H5Ps accessible, but a lot of it comes down to general good practice for inclusivity and following accessibility guidelines.

A lot of these practices for accessibility are actually just good practice when making these things to begin with. It only strengthens the type of content that you can create.

Simon Lilliot

Nikki and Simon also recommended that you:

Top activities (and what to avoid!)

When using H5P, choose the Activity content type that is the most inherently accessible, or can be made accessible with proper design and implementation. This useful guide rates the best (and worst) when it comes to the level of adjustment required to make your activity accessible. Simon also suggested these as his Top 3 activity types:

  1. Question Sets – a screen-reader-friendly option that’s useful when you want to create a sequence of problems that can be randomised
  2. Essay – this can be used to test students’ recall of subject content and uses some good practices from cognitive psychology
  3. Branching scenarios – an interactive form of learning where students are shown the consequences of their decisions, which produce new challenges and choices; read more about the benefits of using branching scenarios.

Nikki noted the importance on not relying on H5P as the only option and allowing flexibility for the learner:

If the H5P activity is unable to be made accessible, my recommendation is to actually provide that activity in an alternative format. Because this is really important for those who use screen readers or actually can’t access that material at all.

Nikki Andersen

Need assistance with making your OER accessible? Log a ticket and we can support you with ensuring your resource is reaching and engaging all students.

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