Keep Your Students Connected and Engaged with H5P

By Valerie Sartor

We are now living in an age where direct instruction is becoming passé. In Spring 2018, I created a questionnaire for 84 students and student teachers, asking about their preferred modes of learning. Results showed that 64% preferred online courses, while 88% reported that they disliked f2f courses with PowerPoint and long, monotonous lectures. For those who endured instructors still using these methods, 73% of these students reported that they went to “YOUTUBE” or “Khan Academy” or “Udemy” to really learn content and pedagogical practices. Students learning English reported that they used online sites to practice (66%) or to check comprehension (54%); and said that online sites were more helpful (43%) than native speakers because they were easier to access (62%). As one multilingual Ethiopian stated:

“I’m sick of death by PowerPoint and reading dry textbooks.” “How do you best learn?” the survey queried.

“After my classes, I go to YouTube, or special sites where I can watch animations or colorful lectures that are short but useful,” he wrote, explaining that he references the Internet for all his academic courses, both f2f and online.
It seems that many students and teachers in training sit inexpensive, boring lectures at university because they have to, in order to receive a degree or endorsement that will hopefully provide them with competence and future employment.

We all know that employing video as a teaching tool in all educational settings, from K-12 to university, is rapidly becoming the norm. Additionally, many educators and futurists, such as Bryan Alexander, advocate using video applications for teaching and teacher training. Clearly, in the digital age we are living in, images have taken precedence over text (Thoman & Jolls, 2004).

Millennials have long been studying and learning in and outside the classroom via the Internet.

Today’s students are not only more tech savvy than their teachers, but they also expect to be entertained while learning. They prefer their edutainment in video or images, not text, and they retain more knowledge via video or images (Steffes & Duverger, 2012). Many students prefer online courses to f2f courses. When I understood the relevance of these concepts, I changed my teaching and began advocating video projects employing H5P in all of my courses.

Globally, online courses are a massive trend in higher education because online classes accommodate more students while costing less money in infrastructure (Allen & Seaman 2007). Good online teaching parallels f2f teaching in that the goal is to engage students, and offers projects, activities and assessments that allow students to experience, practice, collaborate, and incorporate materials so that authentic learning happens.

For English language learners, this means activating prior knowledge, and motivating students to learn by making the learning objective relevant (Eschevarría, Vogt, & Short, 2017).

Many professors teach online courses via video capture. As I have shown, this mode appeals to millennials over reading posted text. However, as with any other type of teaching, videotaped lectures must engage their audience in order to promote successful learning outcomes.

Video serves as an excellent tool in my media toolbox, but I limit that tool to 15 minutes or less because my students have reported that they do not want a lecture, f2f or video, any longer than a TED Talk. I also try to vary output – i.e., presenting direct information, conducting interviews, telling stories, offering animations, offering quizzes, filming student projects, etc.

Video in and of itself is only the tip of the engagement iceberg. To ensure that students are engaged, motivated, and assessed, I add interactions onto my videos via H5P. This tool grabs my students’ attention in two ways: First, the video draws their attention, and the interactions keep them on task, as well as help them self-assess, or to further their knowledge. Second, my students learn to use H5P as a presentation tool for themselves, and subsequently demonstrate competence via interactive projects.

The benefits of using H5P in the ESL classroom are many. H5P provides a way to easily differentiate language (and content) lessons.

For example, if a term or concept is unclear during a video lecture, students can click on a hyperlink for a definition, a visual, an audio link, or go a multilingual website, all of which offer additional information. Learners can also access the information repeatedly, anywhere in the world, via the Internet.

H5P gives students opportunities to self-reflect and self-assess. It provides ambitious students with cyber-conduits to access more information. And, by teaching students to edit their own videos with H5P, we are giving students relevant technology as well as necessary language training. (Note: H5P offers more than a simple way to code over video: users can store activities in their cloud site for free, or embed activities in Word Press. In addition to creating interactive videos, users can generate a variety of quizzes, collages, charts, presentations, etc.)

In 2017, I began to create H5P interactive videos for my f2f and online students. By employing video I became a better speaker, because I could review and revise the product before my students saw it. I also required my students to create interactive videos for their classmates. Their desire to look good on camera, as well as their delight in using the media, generated top-notch work. A side benefit was that my teaching ratings went up wildly, and I also received letters of appreciation for allowing students to not only learn content but also to acquire a relevant tech tool.

You can learn to use H5P in less than one hour. The format is simple:

You can use a YouTube video, or create your own. Watch their tutorial and upload your video on YouTube. Set it as unlisted.

  • Go to and import your video.
  • Watch the short and clear H5P tutorial titled: “Interactive Video.”
  • Add labels; true/false; multiple-choice, fill in the blank; open ended questions; embed a hyperlink or image; and/or a summary question onto the video.

Embed or link the video into your online course or distribute the link via email.

For my TESOL endorsement students, I have videotaped different aspects of teaching a lesson (sample: Next, endorsement students were assigned to videotape their own lessons. I asked them to use the various H5P labels to clarify or justify what and why they used a specific task or instruction while teaching. This request has several advantages in training ESL/EFL teachers:

By videotaping one’s self at work, strengths and weaknesses become self-apparent.

  • Video can be reviewed repeatedly.
  • Adding an assessment component (i.e., label and justify) positively promotes self-critique.
  • An engaging media format can be shared with others, or placed into teaching portfolios.
  • The H5P format is also useful for English language students as well:

Teachers create videos and via H5P prompts ask students to correct/improve words; grammar point; phrases or speech acts.

  • Students create their own videos and test their peers.
  • Students are engaged with relevant technology while learning English. They learned a valuable tech skill in addition to language.


Whether you are an English Language teacher in a remote school, or a professor in a college, we can all agree that the Internet has changed our lives and our English teaching. Our students study, learn, and pass on information using technology. Students and teachers will benefit by becoming comfortable and competent when interacting with diverse forms of technology. Digital and interactive software, ranging from TED Talks to video gaming, support learning in and out of today’s classrooms. H5P website is an innovative, free, practical, and easy to use tech software that English teachers and English language students can use when engaged in teaching and learning English.

Video+H5P = Great Support for English Language Learners
Link to additional, related resources:


  • Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2007). Online nation: Five years of growth in online learning. Sloan Consortium. Newburyport, MA.
  • Eschevarría, J, Vogt, M.E., and Short, D. (2017). Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP model. NY: Pearson.
  • Steffes, E. M., & Duverger, P. (2012). Edutainment with Videos and its Positive Effect on Long Term Memory.
  • Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education, 20(1)1-10.
  • Thoman, E., & Jolls, T. (2004). Media literacy—A national priority for a changing world. American Behavioral Scientist, 48(1), 18-29.
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