301: How Does HTML5 Fit in the eLearning World?

By Dan Keckan published September 13, 2012

If you’ve recently had a discussion about developing mobile learning for your customer the conversation of HTML5 has probably come up.  So, what exactly is HTML5?

The simple answer is, HTML5 is the newest version of HTML.  For those of you who aren’t aware, HTML makes up most of the web content and framework on the internet today.

The more complex answer is HTML5 has the potential to include new and improved functionality within web browsers, without the need for plugins, while incorporating the newest versions of JavaScript (JS) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Notice that my complex definition of HTML5 includes the word “potential”.  This is because HTML5 is still in development and is not yet approved by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

For certain learning needs, HTML5 may be the best way to improve employee performance.  HTML5, however, will not serve all of your training needs.  Flash is still needed for eLearning development.  Here are some things to think about the next time you need to make a decision between Adobe Flash and HTML5. (IMO)

  • There is room in this world for both. HTML5 is replacing Flash in the mobile platform, since Adobe no longer supports Flash on mobile devices.  However, Adobe Flash is still being used on desktop platforms offering animation, video, eLearning and gaming applications.  Furthermore, Adobe is still the better choice on desktop platforms because of cross-platform compatibility over HTML5.
  • In both the mobile and desktop platforms, HTML5 does not provide engaging content all by itself.  HTML5 relies on JavaScript, CSS, and other JavaScript libraries such as jQuery, meaning it can take more development time and therefore increase the cost of your project.
  • While HTML5 does indeed “work” on the most current mobile platforms and browsers, it is not supported everywhere.  This can cause HTML5 development to be time consuming and expensive.  The best solution is to target a single mobile platform and to keep the delivery of content as simple as possible.  Short video vignettes or performance support tools are typically effective ways to train using HTML5 in a mobile environment.
  • HTML5 is not a finished product.  It is likely that the market for HTML5 will not mature for many years.  Therefore, there is going to be a lot of expensive trial and error when developing learning for the mobile platform.  Take my advice, you always want to be the second mouse that gets to the cheese.

In conclusion, since a mobile device is within 6 feet of a learner’s reach 24/7, mobile learning will continue to grow.  Flash, Captivate, Articulate and Lectora will continue to dominate the desktop eLearning market for some time.  But most importantly, there will never be a true “one tool fits all” solution for instructional designers and eLearning developers.

Cinecraft designs and develops engaging custom eLearning and video solutions for Fortune 1000 clients throughout the United States.  Cinecraft has been corporate storytellers for over 70 years.

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