In my previous post I gave an introduction to the tool H5P and showed some examples of how we’ve used it on various courses.
I wanted to explain in a bit more detail how H5P can be used, particularly explaining the various pricing and VLE integrations it has. It is a little bit confusing, but I’ll try to clarify as best as I can.
The transportability of H5P
One thing to say at the outset is the ease with which H5P content can be moved around from one platform to another. Any piece of H5P content can be downloaded onto your computer as a file (rather like a Word doc) and then uploaded again to a website or VLE that has H5P integrated into it. What this also means is that the file can be easily shared with someone else and they can upload and edit it if they have access to H5P somewhere.
You can see this below with the example content. Do you see that button underneath that says ‘reuse’? If you click that, you can download the H5P file onto your computer. Now, nothing will actually run it if you try to open it as it still needs to be uploaded online to a place where the H5P software is available, but it’s great that it exists in this format.
This is something that should be roundly applauded. It means that your content isn’t completely tied to an online service and can be stored and shared separately via other means such as email or chat. We have been bitten several times by web services either completely shutting down or suddenly changing their pricing model and making their services inaccessible. In these cases, it’s often difficult or impossible to get your content out and move it elsewhere.
Now, it’s possible that you already have access to H5P via your institution’s VLE, whether that be Moodle, Blackboard, Canvas or Brightspace. This means that you can go into your VLE’s tools and there may be an option to create content using H5P.
If you are not sure if it is there, contact your IT services department as they have to turn on this integration or pay the special pricing to H5P to have it integrated. Some decide to do this, some don’t. We use Blackboard at our university but don’t have H5P, and I have lobbied our digital services team to make it available, but up til now, to no avail.
h5p.org vs h5p.com
If you don’t have access to H5P through your VLE, you might want to look at using their online services to create and share content.
To confuse things, the H5P company have two separate websites, one with .org at the end, another with .com at the end. What’s the purpose?
The .org site is designed more as a testing site for people to get familiar with the tool, see some examples and practise creating content. They really don’t make this super clear on the site unfortunately, and the only real indication is this warning when you log into your account there. I feel this needs to be more front and centre on the home page.
The limitations of the .org site is that all your content is public, so other people can potentially search, find, view and use it. Also, they put some restrictions on the size of photos and videos you upload to any activities that use that media.
To be honest, for several years I’ve been using the .org site as my sole repository for H5P content. The fact that the content was public didn’t really matter to me as the content wasn’t sensitive in any way and the photo and video restrictions weren’t so strict that it stopped me using it. For video particularly I could use YouTube so I didn’t really need to upload video.
On the free site, it’s still possible to share your content as a link or to take the special embedding code so you could make it visible within another website.
Until recently I probably would have just recommended using the .org site; however, I think the company have realised that many people have been doing this and warnings have started to pop up on some of the content suggesting that further restrictions on usage are coming soon, particularly regarding embedding content elsewhere.
For that reason, I would avoid making it the sole place where you store content and share from as the ability to do so might disappear in the near future.
Which leads us to the other website H5P have got, h5p.com.
It doesn’t really help that the website doesn’t give any information on its homepage what it is and how it functions or how it’s different from the .org site. It seems to make the assumption that you are already familiar with H5P already, which is probably not the case for many people who find the site via Google or a direct link.
Basically, it’s the more functional, secure, premium (paid) version of their free site. Content created here is private unless you decide otherwise and there are no limitations on storage or uploading of photos or video. The content can still be shared via a link or embedded into another webpage and it can be downloaded as a file to share with other people who may have access to H5P.
Again, it’s a bit confusing working out how much you will pay as they have so many different pricing options and their website doesn’t do a great job of putting that information front and centre. You really have to dig around in the documentation to find it.
The cheapest option available – and this is the one we went for – provides three accounts (emails) that can create H5P content. This costs $570 or about £420 for one year.
Some of you may have fallen off your chair at that pricing, others might have thought it wasn’t too exorbitant. It really depends on the funds your institution make available for this kind of thing and how much content you are planning to create with it. If you do find it way out of your price range, there is a way to do it much cheaper – though a bit more technically involved – using WordPress that I explain a bit further down in the post.
We’ve been creating a lot of content via H5P, so we bit the bullet and paid the money, we felt it was worth it for secure and unlimited hosting of our content. The limit of three accounts seems a little restrictive given the amount of money involved, but we tend to use generic accounts for those rather than person-specific ones so it allows more people the option to log into the account and create content.
They do have a 30-day trial of this premium service, so it might be worth signing up to it and seeing how useful you find it.
A cheaper hosting option via WordPress
I completely understand that the cheapest pricing option for H5P might be out of the reach of many of your institutions, particularly in these straitened times. But there is a much cheaper way of hosting H5P content for around £25-30 a year if you are willing to put in a little time to getting it set up. If you don’t feel so confident with technology, you may want to ask someone to help with this who is a bit more comfortable with it.
This basically involves setting up your own website via something called WordPress, installing the free H5P plugin and then hosting your H5P content there. You can then share links to the H5P content with your students. While this sounds complicated, there are many packages you can buy where the company you buy the hosting from helps with the purchase of the website name and the installation of WordPress so a lot of technical side is already done for you.
For example, when purchasing the domain and hosting for this website (which is WordPress as well), I used a company called Hostinger who offer a decent WordPress hosting package for around £25 for the first year, going up to £35 a year after that. With that you get a free website name – you might want to choose something relevant to your centre such as content.myschoolname.com – and 20GB of storage, a huge amount if all you are going to be using it for is H5P content. You could create hundreds of pieces of content with that amount of storage and it’s unlikely you’d ever run out.
There are many other hosting companies that offer similar deals, some popular and reasonably cheap ones are Bluehost, A2 hosting, ionos but there are many others out there. I’m happy with Hostinger and the process was very painless, but I’m sure these others offer similar services.
Over the next week or so I plan to record a video explaining in a bit more detail how to set up a WordPress site to host H5P, but feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions.