By Nicole Legault

If you work in e-learning, you’ve no doubt heard that the industry is moving away from Flash and toward HTML5 output. Why is this happening? In the past, e-learning has traditionally been published to Flash, which is a video player that lets learners view videos inside a web browser. This worked fine for years, but many mobile devices don’t support Flash—and that’s becoming a problem as demand grows for mobile e-learning (also called m-learning).

But the shift to HTML5 is about more than just filling the void left by Flash. HTML5 has exquisite media-rich elements, and is able to both track learners and report to a Learning Management System (LMS). In this article, we’ll explore three key reasons for the growing appeal of HTML5 for e-learning.

1. Some Mobile Devices Don’t Support Flash

Many e-learning developers who go down the HTML5 route do so because they’re publishing content for devices that aren’t compatible with Flash—such as Apple mobile devices (iPhone and iPad) and Android mobile devices. The lack of Flash support on mobile devices is a problem, because many organizations use smartphones and tablets as business tools and they want to be able to deliver e-learning content on those devices.

2. New Media-Rich Elements of HTML5

In the past, HTML code couldn’t play audio and video, which are often integral parts of e-learning courses. Learners had to download third-party apps, such as Flash, to play media. 

However, the latest version of HTML includes new audio and video tags that let developers embed these files directly into their HTML code. This makes it possible for learners to view e-learning directly in their web browsers, without Flash. 

3. HTML5 Can Be Tracked with Learning Management Systems

Most e-learning developers need to track their learners’ scores and course completions in an LMS. Many organizations invest heavily in their LMS and want to make sure future e-learning content will be compatible with their system. 

Published e-learning content “communicates” with the LMS using a variety of specifications, including AICC, SCORM, and TinCan API. The good news is that HTML5 output can be tracked in all these publishing specifications—meaning it can work with existing systems—which is a big plus.

Summary

The shift to HTML5 is a slow one and is being driven by three key factors: non-Flash-compatible mobile devices, new media capabilities of HTML5, and LMS compatibility. These features are exciting and promising for the e-learning industry, but they're still fraught with their own challenges.