25 Embedded Media & Interactive Content

For the latest updates to this resource, check out its chapter in our Pressbooks User Guide

This chapter will cover:

  • What embedded media and interactive content is supported by Pressbooks
  • How to add this content to your book
  • How Pressbooks handles this content across formats

What is Embedded Media & Interactive Content?

Embedded content refers to content that is hosted outside of your Pressbooks book, but that you ‘embed’ so it can been viewed and interacted with within the webbook, saving your reader from needing to visit another site. You will have encountered this kind of content all over the web – YouTube videos in blog posts, for example, or social media posts in news articles – and it follows that you should be able to add it to your Pressbooks webbook as well.

Supported Content

Pressbooks supports several different kinds of media and interactive content. Each of these behave in slightly different ways and have different input methods, and when it comes to embedded content, it is important to understand why some content is allowed and other content is not.

One kind of embedded content we don’t allow is iframes; by default, WordPress (on which Pressbooks is built) heavily restricts the use of iframes for security reasons. Instead, we avoid the need to use iframes altogether by allowing content from approved sites to be embedded without them – all you need is the URL and the system handles the rest!

How do I embed content?

To embed approved content, all you need to do is drop the URL of the video, audio or other element (not the embed code with iframe tags wrapping it) directly into the visual editor, and Pressbooks will automagically change the URL to an embed.

The full list of approved content is too long to include here, but includes major providers such as:

  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • SoundCloud
  • Social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc.)
  • Flickr
  • TED.com

We also support several EDU-specific platforms, including:

If you’re not sure whether the content you want to embed is supported or not, the easiest way to find out is to paste the link to your chapter and see if it turns into to the expected content or not. If it is not supported, you will need to instead add a regular hyperlink that takes the reader to the content on another site.

Note: EDU network managers can request a site be added to our list of approved content sources. Please contact your network manager if you require embed support for a specific site and we will evaluate requests for inclusion on the list.

H5P Interactive Content (EDU Hosted Networks Only)

H5P is a popular plugin used to create exciting, interactive content on the web. In Pressbooks, it’s most in demand to create interactive quizzes and other activities in open textbooks and other open educational resources. The plugin is available on all EDU networks (not on Pressbook.com).

There are dozens of different kinds of content enabled by H5P. You can view all of them, as well as examples and more detailed instructions for creating the different types on the H5P website (Note: they offer different installation and embedding options, but that’s all taken care of by Pressbooks – you just need to think of the exciting things you can create!)

Before getting started, your first need to activate the H5P plugin on your book. This can be done under “Plugins” on the left menu.

Once the plugin is active, follow these steps to add an H5P element to your book:

  1. Navigate to the H5P Content menu and select “Add New.”
  2. Enter a title.
  3. Select content type from the dropdown menu.
  4. Install the content type by clicking on “Get” and following the steps indicated (if necessary).
  5. Enter the information for your quiz/activity etc.
  6. Click on “Create” when you’re done!

Now that you’ve created your element, you can add it to your chapter. To do so:

  1. Copy the shortcode displayed in the top right of the screen.
  2. Navigate to the chapter where you would like add the element.
  3. Paste the shortcode into place (you can do this in the visual editor, no need to switch to text).
  4. Save your chapter.
  5. View the web version to see the element in action.
  6. Export other desired formats to see the fallback message.

Here’s an example of creating a simple multiple choice question:

Find the “Add New” option under the H5P Content menu.
Click on “Get” and follow steps to install content type.
Enter your questions, answers and other info to create your quiz.
Once you’ve created your quiz, copy the shortcode indicated in the top right.
Paste the shortcode into your chapter where you want your quiz to appear.
Save and view in the webbook.
Display in PDF
Display in epub

Display Across Formats

While interactive and embedded content is handled natively in web, it is not supported quite so easily across the other formats Pressbooks produces, including PDF and ebook. As a result, we have implemented a fallback method for content that isn’t supported across the board.

This fallback consists of an inserted message that is populated with information available in the system (may include a title, thumbnail, the kind of media, etc.) and provides the reader with a link to the webbook version of the chapter so they can view the missing element (print readers will see a short URL that they can type into a browser). See a couple of examples below.

Uploaded Media

Pressbooks also enables users to upload audio and video directly to their books. Typically, we discourage people from uploading video as the file sizes tend to be quite large and can eat up your storage space quickly. However, if ever audio or video is uploaded and inserted into a book, it will be handled in the same way as embedded media: displayed normally in web and swapped for a missing element message in other formats.

If you still aren’t sure how to embed media or interactive content, or have other questions, contact us!


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Pressbooks for EDU Guide by Book Oven Inc. (Pressbooks.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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