August 12, 2013

How HTML5 Can Power E-Learning

HTML5 is rapidly catching on in a wide variety of different markets, and though the new language doesn’t yet have the full recommendation of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C (NewsAlert)), there still exists a wide array of tacit recommendation from the sheer number of firms and applications that are already putting this language to use. But what about e-learning? Can e-learning derive benefit from HTML5 the way many other firms are seeing? Or should those e-learning ventures considering HTML5 hold out for a while?

Primarily, the use of HTML5 in e-learning comes down to a point of how it’s to be used. A course from Saffron more closely examined the use of HTML5 in e-learning, and some of the conclusions that emerged from same were well worth noting for e-learning firms. One of the biggest reasons to make a switch to HTML5 is that HTML5 offers many capabilities that Flash doesn’t, like the ability to support embedded multimedia without the need to bring in an external plug-in. The value of multimedia in online learning is hard to understate, and anything that can provide better support for this valuable tool is worth a second look.

Additionally, HTML5 can boast some further value in its sheer accessibility. There are a wide variety of browsers that can handle HTML5—certainly not all browsers currently in use, but just as certainly a wide variety, from Internet Explorer 9 to Silk 4 to Chrome 4—and that means that coding can be simplified, removing the need to create apps for specific platforms and letting one app do the job on a large number of systems. HTML5 offers other benefits as well, like better Web storage that beats anything cookies can offer by a wide margin, as well as better support for saving courses and printing same.

But HTML5 isn’t without flaw. The end of Flash is likely more sooner said than done, and again, the lack of full W3C backing is worth noting. HTML5 can even require the use of Flash in some cases—video content backup in particular—so why turn to HTML5 in the first place? Moreover, HTML5 does some great work on tablets and smartphones, but with 80 percent of companies found to not use mobile learning technology, why play to an audience that just isn’t there yet?

The rise of the mobile workforce and bring your own device (BYOD) doctrines suggests that that audience will be there one day, but until then, HTML5 may be jumping the gun. Of course, some here too would say that it’s a smart move to not shoot where the target is, but where the target will be, improving the odds of better hitting that target in full. Having HTML5 development plans in place will likely pay off in better apps down the line, when said apps are most needed.

Each e-learning venture will have to consider for itself if HTML5 is the right thing to do. There are clear advantages to going with such a system to bolster e-learning presentations, but with some clear limitations to the system, making the jump to HTML5 isn’t going to be for everyone.

Edited by Ryan Sartor


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