eLearning and HTML5
“Why doesn’t my eLearning content run on an iPad? Websites are doing it so why not eLearning?”
It’s a question we often hear from our clients when discussing a new or existing project. The good news is that we are now able to produce eLearning that will work on both desktops and mobile devices. The key word there is ‘now’. For projects that developed even as recently as 12 months ago, the HTML5 specification was not a viable technology; in fact the specification wasn’t officially “recommended” by its managing body, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), until October 2014 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5#Standardization_process).
This means in 2014 Flash was still a suitable technology for eLearning delivery, and for a lot of our clients it will continue to be. Here’s why. Only recently has it become ‘safe’ to say all of the current desktop browsers support HTML5 and CSS3. These sites have great visualizations of the most common browsers’ adoption of the HTML5 specification https://html5test.com/results/desktop.html & http://html5readiness.com/. For organizations that have a large IT infrastructure or dependency on certain software the use of older browsers is quite common. Internet Explorer versions 8 and 9 are still in use and only support a subset of the HTML5 Specification, and even now IE6 and IE7 are still in use somewhere out there (http://www.w3counter.com/trends).
I can hear you saying, “Whoa! Wait a minute, why are you going on and on about desktop browsers? This is supposed to be about mobile.”
You’re right, it is, but….and here’s my point. How many learners only use mobile devices? And for those learners that don’t, is their desktop browser HTML5/CSS3 ready? For a lot of our clients the answer is that a least some can’t view HTML5 content. This means if your learning project needs to reach a mobile and desktop audience, we’re challenged with having to develop rich interactive eLearning for both. And I’m sure you’d prefer that we don’t have a separate development cycle for each.
Fortunately there are now authoring tools available that can output both HTML5 (non-responsive) and Flash content. These tools give us the best of both worlds, allowing us to develop once and deploy twice. While these tools are more restrictive than Flash when it comes to interactivity and controls, they still allow us to create dynamic and entertaining eLearning, complete with custom graphics and animations, video, and scenario-based interactions. Until your users’ desktop browsers catch up with iPad and Android, these tools will be a great compromise, allowing your project to reach both a mobile and desktop audience.