It is no exaggeration to say that no other technology is discussed as widely as HTML5. What makes this latest development in web technology so important for eLearning? Well, before we see the impact of HTML5 on online training, it is necessary to understand the situation prevailing prior to the advent of this radical technology.
For years, Adobe Flash was the monarch of eLearning technologies. This highly flexible tool can be used to develop stunning courses with wonderful animations, interactivities of a very high quality including drag and drop, simulations, role plays and so on - it facilitated the harness of creative powers of the online course developer. It appeared that the reign of this software from Adobe would never come to an end. But all changed with the statement of one person – Steve Jobs, who declared that the iOS would not support Flash-based content.
In 2010, Steve jobs announced that the iOS, Apple’s operating system for its mobile devices would not support Flash-based content. This had tremendous ramifications for the eLearning world. The demand for mobile learning is steadily increasing as evidenced by the Ambient Insight’s report, in 2011, which stated that the mLearning market in the USA was growing at the rate of 29.3%. IOS’ incompatibility with Flash was major blow as iPads constituted a major chunk of market for tablet computers. Things only got complicated when Adobe announced that it was withdrawing support to the mobile version of Flash. ELearning developers need a new technology and that technology was HTML5. Let us now see the advantages of using this latest web technology to develop online courses.
HTML5 increasingly became popular with eLearning developers not only because it is possible to develop courses compatible with mobile devices, but also because of these advantages.
With HTML5, you can develop a responsive eLearning course that can be accessed seamlessly on all devices, irrespective of their screen-sizes. The possibility has heralded the dawn of a new era of flexible training. Learners can now access the course truly anytime, anywhere. It provides unparalleled flexibility to the learner.
For instance, a busy employee needs to complete an online course. He can finish a part of the course on the desktop computer in his office. Then after coming home, he accesses the course on his iPad and completes the unfinished part.
Companies, too, can benefit from responsive eLearning because they can overcome the following drawbacks of developing multiple versions of the same course.
A major drawback of the Flash-based course is that you need to install player plug-in. In case you don’t have the player or it is not of the right version, the user will have to download or upgrade the flash player. This may result in learner frustration. You have no such problems with HTML5.
It is common knowledge that graphics play a very important role in enhancing the effectiveness of online courses. You can use HTML5 to develop courses containing scalable vector graphics (SVGs). SVGs have many benefits when compared to other graphic formats. They are:
It is estimated that more people would access the Internet on their mobiles than desktop computers by 2015 (Morgan Stanley Research). The tremendous spurt in the usage of “mobile Internet” has led organizations to use mobile apps to deliver training through these devices. These apps have come to occupy a pivotal role in mLearning because they provide instant and easy access to the learning content. You can use HTML5 to create web apps that are accessible on all mobile platforms.
"Old" browsers such as IE7 & 8 have difficulties in reading HTML5 content. So, if you use these browsers then you have to decide between sticking to flash-based courses or upgrading your browsers. HTML5 is not browser independent. Different browsers interpret the HTML and CSS code differently. This could, at times, be problematic.
While it is true that HTML5 can be used to create interactivities such as Drag and Drop, it trails Flash in terms of the flexibility to create learning content rich in interactivities. You can develop multimedia rich graphics without any hassles, using Flash. After all, HTML5 has been developed to make it easier for people to surf the net, without depending on plug-ins; using it for eLearning courses is just a byproduct.
We need to remember that HTML5 is still evolving, and it will take some more time before it emerges as a fully matured technology. This web technology holds immense potential that needs to be realized by the eLearning world. What do you think? We’d love to hear your views.