Online ELT & CALL activities in Moodle

Great news! For those of us who use Moodle to create online English language learning/teaching (ELL/ELT) activities & courses, things just got better. Previously, I’ve held off from writing about H5P because, although it is very useful & has great potential, I found the Moodle integration problematic & difficult to manage, but with the latest Moodle upgrades I think that we can take online ELL/ELT to a whole new level.

H5P Integration

Moodle 3.9 now has much tighter integration with H5P, a framework for creating & deploying 43 types of multimedia learning resources & activities, many of which are ideal for computer assisted language learning (CALL), e.g. dictations, learners can record themselves speaking, various matching & memory games, flashcards, & various cloze & gap-fill activity types, & an experimental feature that allows a speech analysis service to grade learners’ spoken responses to prompts & questions.

H5P resources & learning activities can be embedded anywhere in Moodle, e.g. as the initial prompt or activity in a forum discussion thread, in Moodle quizzes & tests, & in lessons & presentations.

Institutionally supported free & open source

Like Moodle, H5P is free & open source software (FOSS) & supported by several universities & non-profit organisations. This means that continuing development & adoption are assured & the community of developers & users is set to continue to grow substantially. They’re also building a free & open H5P learning resources repository/library so that course creators can publish & import ready-made learning resources & activities into their Moodle courses & edit & adapt them to their specific situation, context, & learners’ needs. This kind of collectivising learning resources certainly helps to lighten the typically substantial load of materials writing & development for individual educational organisations, thereby bringing costs & development times down.

Check out some examples

You can see & try out examples of the activity types, not specifically designed for ELT but they give you a good idea of what they look like & how they work. See the H5P resource & activity types summary page here:

Especially useful for CALL

Of the 43 H5P resource & activity types currently available, the following are of notable interest for CALL:

  • Interactive video: Useful for socially situated (contextualised) dialogues, & watching recorded language presentations with interactive prompts, pauses, & questions, as well as many other applications. You can really get creative with this one.
  • Presentations: Collate & sequence multiple H5P resources & learning activities into complete coherent mini-lessons. H5P items can also be sequenced & mixed in with Moodle quiz items.
  • Audio recorder: Ss can record themselves & submit it to their teacher for review, feedback, &/or grading – Also note that Moodle itself has audio & video recording capabilities so that you can, for example, create voice &/or video discussion forums (similar to VoiceThread). Learners just click, talk to their computer/phone, & submit.
  • Multimedia flash cards: Flash cards with text, images, & audio. Great for reviewing language in terms of meaning, form, & pronunciation (MFP). Flash cards also strengthen memory of basic language elements, which results in faster recall & more fluent, complex, & accurate spontaneous speech & writing (similar to Quizlet but with better multimedia support).
  • Dictation: Traditional dictation activity, except that learners control the audio playback (as many times as they need/like) & there’s option to provide additional versions of each section of speech, e.g. reduced tempo (time-stretched audio) or clearer, more emphatic annunciation. Learners’ responses are graded as % of correct words – each correct word receives a grade rather than the typical whole answer being graded in a binary (exactly) right or wrong fashion.
  • Drag & drop: Multimedia multiple matching activity – Learners can match text, images, & audio. It has a wide range of applications from vocabulary to dialogue sequences & TPR (be aware that drag & drop has issues with accessibility & section 508 compliance).
  • Drag & drop cloze (gap-fill): Learners have list of language items, e.g. words, to insert into correct positions in text. Similar to multiple choice cloze but quicker & easier to create & easier for learners to complete. Especially suitable for lower-level learners, i.e. CEFR A0 – A2.
  • Cloze tests (gap-fill): Learners type in the blanked words into a text. Although Moodle’s Quiz activity also does cloze deletion tests well, the text formatting & input in this H5P activity type is easier to read & therefore exerts lower extraneous (i.e. bad) cognitive load. An advanced cloze type allows for multiword blanks & gives percentage scores for the number of correct words within a blank, which is useful for practising Cambridge keyword sentence transformations. (BTW, cloze deletion texts are among the most valid & reliable forms of reading comprehension test known).
  • Hotspots: Learners identify items in an image by clicking on them. Can be used to teach & test vocabulary & phrases in contextually relevant images/scenes.
  • Memory game/match the pairs of cards: The classic memory games that learners seem to love & help to strengthen retrieval, fluency, & accuracy in spontaneous language production.
  • Image sequencing: Drag & drop the images into the correct order. Good for TPR style activities, e.g. to check initial/gist understanding of narratives, stories, news items.
  • Mark the words: Indicate words in a text, e.g. nouns, pronouns, objects, subjects, noun verb phrases, adjacency pairs, mistakes, etc.. Good for getting learners to do analyses of texts &/or error analysis/proof reading practice.
  • Personality quiz: A good ice-breaker/getting to know you activity for fun & cultivating social presence.

What other Moodle activities do better than H5P

H5P also has multiple choice & multiple matching question types however it’s better to do MCQs with Moodle’s Quiz module. The Quiz module has more options & it includes automated item analyses to help you to improve the quality of MCQ items at a granular level, e.g.

  • Facility index: How easy the learners find the item),
  • Discrimination index: How well the item distinguishes between low & high knowledge learners, i.e. the learners’ level of understanding),
  • Distractor efficiency: How feasible/convincing the wrong answers (distractors) are & how consistently proficient learners get an item right & low-knowledge learners get the item wrong – Contributes to the discrimination index.

Also see Moodle’s Feedback activity for opinion polls & different kinds of feedback, which allows teachers to share the aggregated results with learners, e.g. Opinion polls can be used to spark forum discussions as they show learners where consensus’ & differences on a specific topic are across the whole group.

Over to you

As you can see, there’s a long list of options to explore that can strongly enhance the instructional quality of online learning interactions & instructional sequences, as well as making them more varied & enjoyable for learners. What online ELT ideas do you think you could implement with these tools?