I have been following projects coming out of Canada for years to build and share H5P activities. For those that don’t know, H5P is a program or plugin for multiple web-building products that allow website creators to create interactives. H5P stands for HTML 5 Packet, and this is significant in that H5P is a great tool to develop interactives that work based on HTML. They don’t need old plugins like Flash to work or animate and H5P can be added into many open source website projects like WordPress, Moodle, Drupal, (free) or purchased as Software as a Service from H5p.com (premium support and hosting).
The group that I was always impressed with was eCampus Ontario’s H5P Studio. H5P Studio installs the opensource H5P plugins and wraps around it ways for faculty members to sign up quickly and easily, ways to create H5P, make that H5P public and searchable in a catalog or private, embed interactives created there on other websites, and collect groups of interactives into collections. The beauty of the H5P Studio is its simplicity. You don’t need to run your own WordPress, Drupal, or Moodle website that you have added the H5P plugin into, you can just go to this one website, create an account and go. The simplicity of the user experience, plus the subtle improvements that the team has made make it desireable.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Yasin Dahi, the developer who has been modifying Drupal to become the OER Studio. His approach of using an established open-source website builder and modifying it with plugins and extensions to fill a need in the education technology program is exactly the type of work I was advocating for when I wrote “Why Moodle Should be the Next Great OER Tool.” Drupal isn’t as popular of a website builder as WordPress, partly because of the way it operates. Drupal works much more like a database than a blog. In Drupal, you must define content types, structure the forms that those content types will be entered into by the web builders, and then create the views that will become the website. That’s a lot of setup for a hobby website builder that should probably just use WordPress, but for a large organization, it’s exactly the type of control that a communication department would want to make sure departments and subgroups have similar looking structured sites. For the OER Studio, most users are only allowed to create one thing- one H5P interactive. There are also some fields that you can add in some metadata to make that H5P searchable and findable. The basic core of Drupal adapts well to the purpose, which was really my point when I wrote that article. The open source community shouldn’t be trying to write brand new programs and applications from scratch, instead they should adopt established open source communities that already have a wide user base and business plan that ensure sustainability and write the plugins or modifications they need.
Yasin will work with the team at Reclaim Hosting to make the H5P Studio even more available. An alpha version of the source code is available on GitHub. Still, he hopes to release new versions with a package for the Installatron installer, so that Domain of One’s Own enthusiasts like myself can install the OER Studio and keep it up to date and secure very easily.
I’ve got a demo site running at h5p.sunycreate.cloud so I can test this fresh off the presses OER tool. I hope that I can share it with the faculty of SUNY soon!