Tuesday, November 15, 2011

HTML5 for eLearning: Worth The Effort?

If you’re in the Learning and Development field, have you been able to go through a workday without hearing or reading about HTML5? Reference to its application in eLearning especially to mobile learning (mLearning) comes up at just about every conference and training seminar. No wonder, everywhere I turn, someone’s using an iPad, iPhone, or iPod. We could ask the same question for those with Android, Blackberry or Windows phone OS, but they support Flash so we’ll forgo that group in this post.

Outside of the technical question, three big rarely mentioned questions exist for me which regard usage, retention and security:

  1. Are people likely to do work-related activities beyond checking email and keeping up with news on the mobile gadgets? Think about how difficult it is to get people to learn even while in the office.

  2. Will the learner be able to focus on the learning and retain the knowledge, given that they may be easily distracted while on-the-go? Think about what happens when a call comes in, if they’re on the road driving, if they’re packed in a hot train, etc.

  3. Do you really want them to be learning about proprietary information in a public space? Think about how many times you’ve tried to see what someone else is looking at and vice versa.

If you don’t have to worry about any of the above questions and don’t want to implement HTML5, there are ways to get around HTML5 on non-Flash supported devices; check out these tips from Tom Kuhlmann.

Having said all this, I’m not shooting down the importance of HTML5 for authoring eLearning and interactive training modules. Having options and using the most appropriate solution based on budget, time and workforce resources is key to most successful programs. If it seems like many organizations don’t want to fall behind the curve with mLearning, well . . . we learning development companies are shaking in our boots. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration as we’re still developing exclusively in Flash, but we are building HTML5 prototypes for internal testing.

So did I answer the question? Probably not. Maybe it’s worth the effort if we get a client that wants to be a vanguard which requires patience and budget that often accompanies being an early adopter. With some big rapid authoring software vendors e.g. Articulate andTrivantis developing HTML5 capabilities, the barriers will get lower. However, as we’re referencing HTML5 in terms of mLearning development, don’t forget about the other big piece which is implementing SCORM so the modules would work with an LMS; again, as more authoring software become available, the integration with the LMS will become less daunting. All in all, it’s not that it’s impossible and there are organizations that are forging ahead.

Below is a quick prototype that we’ve built using SlideGo; it’s not perfect e.g. seeing a number of bugs when embedded in blog, but there’s potential for those looking towards a free tool (click here for larger view).

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