In the summer of 2020, I began to work with Dr. Karen Bacon as she grappled with a potential solution for students to complete fieldwork in Botany and Plant Sciences virtually. During that time, Ireland was in quite a restrictive lockdown. She ventured into the field herself, or as far as she could within the travel limits, and filmed her demonstrations with two phones, a lapel mic, and a ‘helpful husband’, as she likes to say. Once she had edited her videos, she created an interactive book in H5P to help students immerse themselves in the now virtual field experience. You can hear more about her work in this short talk from Open Scholarship Week 2022.

Back in 2019, I began experimenting with H5P, and was keen to integrate it with Blackboard at NUI Galway as a means to ‘open the closed’. You can read a little more about my thought process in my OER 19 abstract and a previous blog post. After a brief pilot in the 2019/2020 academic year as part of the Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning project focusing on digital resources and interactive multimedia, we purchased a site license in August 2020, which provided our staff with a tool to remix their existing learning materials into asynchronous online content. I delivered a series of learning design workshops throughout that summer, and drew upon resources and concepts curated with project colleagues on the EDTL Approach ‘Consider Content and Activities‘.

EDTL Approach for Effective Remote Teaching During Covid-19
Planning for Effective Remote Teaching During Covid-19: The EDTL Approach

Karen worked extensively throughout that period to create virtual fieldwork opportunities for her students, and was one of the early recipients of our Getting Started with Personal and Professional Digital Capacity badge. Her work eventually resulted in her successful application for the Erasmus+ project, Digilego, on which I’m a collaborator. Digilego aims to provide high quality easily transferable open educational resources for digital methods training in geography and environmental sciences at higher education institutions.

Digilego logo

This past week, the Digilego team travelled to the Burren Sanctuary in Kinvara to host a virtual field trip course development workshop, with a final day at NUI Galway on Friday for a project meeting. The Burren Sanctuary is well-worth a visit even for those outside the academic discipline. I may have been distracted by the winding paths and resident animals…Thanks very much to Mary for hosting us.

Some photos from my exploration of the Burren Sanctuary

Knowing that I’d be working with participants from a variety of institutions in my H5P workshop, I opted to use LUMI to create interactive videos using the footage they had already filmed and edited using Blender under Karen’s guidance. I worked with participants in smaller groups to discuss sharing options, from simply sharing .h5p files, uploading SCORM to a VLE, or publishing HTML files to a website.

This work will truly be an iterative process as media is created through the project’s travels, the next being a workshop in Berlin in August. Project members will continue to experiment with H5P and the various content types. We’ll discuss publishing and Creative Commons licensing in due course. I’ll be adding to the workshop resources over time, and my slides are also available.

Creating in the Open: Virtual Field Course Development with H5P

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