When creating a course, one of the hardest things to do is to keep learners engaged with the content. Learners get bored quickly. Thus, content has to be interactive so that learners actively engage with it.

This is why people often turn to authoring tools like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate for creating interactive course content.

However, these programs come with a hefty price-tag so they aren’t accessible for every budget. Plus, they are not easy to use.

I already wrote some posts about the free H5P plugin which makes it possible to create interactive HTML5 content.

Today I want to discuss if H5P could be an alternative to authoring tools like Captivate and Storyline.


What is H5P?

H5P stands for HTML 5 Package.  It is a free authoring plugin developed by Joubel and can be used with Moodle, WordPress and Drupal.

There are currently 40 different content types available, like for example, interactive video, course presentation, quizzes, virtual tour or branching scenario.

It is open-source, which means that developers can use the source code to customize content types or create new ones from scratch.

H5P vs Captivate and Storyline

To decide if H5P could be an alternative to Captivate and Storyline, let`s compare some of the major features of the tools.


Price and License

Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline are quite expensive

For Storyline you pay 999 $ per year per user. For Adobe Captivate you have to pay about 1545€ for a full license or if you use the subscription model, about 40 € per month per user

H5P is free to use.

Furthermore, since the H5P format is open and the tools for creating H5P content are open source, too, course developers own their content and are not locked into the fate and licensing regime of a specific tool.

Winner: H5P – it`s free to use and you are not dependent on a vendor.


Software installation

Captivate and Storyline both need to be installed locally and can only be used on your local computer.

H5P does not require any local software installation. You just need to get the free H5P plugin and upload it to your CMS or LMS (WordPress, Moodle or Drupal). Then you can create, edit and publish content in a standard browser.

This means, H5P is not a stand-alone software like Captivate or Storyline, but it`s rather an extension for the systems mentioned above.

If you don`t have a WordPress, Moodle or Drupal site, you still can create H5P content on H5P.org and then embed the content into your LMS or website. However, the content you create on H5P.org is always public, which means that anybody using H5P.org can see it.

Winner: If you already run a site using WordPress, Moodle or Drupal, H5P is the winner since you don`t have to install it locally and you can use it with any standard browser.

Course creation and ease of use

If you are familiar with Captivate or Storyline, you know that creating a course with these tools means adding texts, images, videos, interactions, etc. to slides.

If you don`t know Captivate or Storyline you can compare the general interface of these tools with PowerPoint. However, working with these tools is a little bit trickier than working with PowerPoint, although Storyline looks very similar.

Both tools have a learning curve. If you know how to work with these tools you can create amazing and very complex e-learning experiences, but if you are a total newbie, even making a small tweak to an existing course can break it if you don’t know what you’re doing.

After you have finished creating your course, you have to publish it and then upload it to your LMS.

H5P is not a slide-based authoring tool like Captivate and Storyline (although it is possible to create a slide-based course with H5P, too). Rather you choose one of the numerous content types and the corresponding editor opens. Within the editor you can add your content. It`s very simple.

When you`ve done, you just have to insert or embed your interactive content in a page or post.

One pitfall is that you can`t customize the general look of the content types (colour, font, buttons, etc) without knowing a bit of CSS.

If you want to create a slide-based course with H5P similar to those created with Captivate and Storyline, you just have to choose the content-type “Course Presentation”. Here is an example:



Winner: H5P wins in the category ease of use. With H5P it`s very easy to create interactive content – even as a total beginner. Plus, H5P offers a huge number of already pre-programmed interactions, like for example, dialog cards, memory game, dictation or virtual tour. This means, you don`t have to build those interactions from scratch like in Captivate and Storyline. All you have to do is adding your texts and images.


Advanced Interactivity

All three tools offer the opportunity to create standard interactions, like for example, multiple choice questions, assessments and drag and drop interactions.

However, only with Captivate and Storyline it`s possible to create very complex interactions or simulations with variables that result in eLearning experiences that adapt to the learner.

H5P just released a new content type called “Branching Scenario” which makes it possible to create individual learning paths. But still this content type does not allow the opportunity of using variables.

Winner: Captivate and Storyline beat H5P when it comes to creating advanced interactions using variables. But you also have to keep in mind that working with variables is not easy and often very time-consuming. If you just want to build a course with different learning paths, H5P`s Branching Scenario could be a sufficient option


Adobe Captivate and Articulate both offer possibilities for creating responsive eLearning courses. With Captivate you are able to build responsive courses with the help of “fluid boxes” which adapt to the size of the device you are using. This is great, since it ensures that your course will look good on any device. However, creating a responsive project in Captivate is more time-consuming than creating a non-responsive course.

Articulate Storyline 360 comes with a responsive player, but the content does not adapt to mobile devices. Articulate Rise could be an option for creating responsive projects.

H5P content is HTML5 and mobile friendly. It automatically reflows and resizes to fit any screen with no additional development work needed.

Winner: H5P wins for responsiveness, since the content reflows automatically without any extra work.

Data collection capabilities

Both Captivate and Storyline projects may be published in SCORM and TinCan – the standard formats that work well with most Learning Management Systems and which make it possible to collect a wide range of data.

H5P does not publish in SCORM or TinCan. The H5P plugins for WordPress, Drupal and Moodle store basic results such as the start and stop times and scores per user per H5P Content Type.

If you’re just embedding H5P, you will not be able to store your learners’ results.

However, it is possible to collect more advanced data with the help of third party software. Each H5P content type generates xAPI statements with structured information about everything the user does. These xAPI statements may be sent to a Learning Record Store.

Winner: Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline win when it comes to data collection capabilities since projects can easily be published in SCORM or TinCan format.


H5P can be a serious alternative to Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline. It is easy to use, it is free and it provides the opportunity to produce eLearning content that’s easy to adapt and reuse.

However, if you need more advanced or complex interactions using variables, Storyline and Captivate would be a better choice.  H5P`s innate data collection capabilities are also rather low compared to Captivate and Storyline.

But in the end it is not about which tool is better, but which tool is right for you. The software that will work best for you depends on your instructional context, your time, and your budget.