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Learning 07.19.17 BLOG 

HTML5 is the Future of E-Learning

The TransPerfect E-Learning & Development Group

elearning html5

HTML5 is the Future of E-Learning

Back in the 90s, a blinking GIF was the most dynamic content you could have on your website. Then Flash emerged in the early 2000s, bringing videos, animations, and interactivity to any browser and any computer—even if it took an eternity for the content to load with a 56K modem.

That uniformity of content was made possible by Flash Player—the piece of software responsible for all those website intros with audio that would scare to death the unsuspecting visitor with volume set to full blast. It had a good run, but now its eventual demise is inevitable thanks to HTML5, which provides mobile compatibility and new, cool features that allow developers to embed videos and add interactivity.

While Flash is still around, here’s why the e-learning industry should embrace HTML5 as the new standard:

The World is Going Mobile

According to Stat Counter, 52% of web content is currently browsed via mobile phones, compared to 25% three years ago, and 10% five years ago. This means that more users will want to view e-learning courses on a mobile phone, and Flash doesn’t work in mobile at all.

By contrast, HTML5 works on all mobile operating systems and is responsive to all screen sizes and resolutions. By offering your course in HTML5, users can start the course at work on a desktop, and finish it on a mobile phone or tablet, with the transition being almost seamless.

Another benefit is offline caching—an entirely new addition to HTML technology that enables webmasters to define which files the visitor's browser can save for offline reading, so users can revisit the content at any time.

A Blank Canvas for Both Developers and Learners

If HTML5 killed Flash, then canvas element and SVG are the smoking gun. There used to be one thing that Flash allowed you to do that HTML couldn’t: draw. Adding a mini game or an interactive animated element to your course is a great way to engage your users in the material, but before HTML5, flash objects were the only way to do it. Canvas and SVG now allow you to draw 2D/3D elements and animate them using HTML and JavaScript. There are multiple beautiful examples online that show just what canvas element can do if used properly, and more tools that allow easy creation of such content have emerged in recent years. Easy to create, beautiful, and accessible on both desktop and mobile devices, HTML5 canvas is truly a dream come true for every e-learning developer.

HTML5 is Multilingual

The world is getting smaller each year, and technology allows us to break through language barriers and reach more people. There is no denying that localization is a very important consideration when developing an e-learning course, but Flash makes the localization process extremely challenging—exporting the strings for translation can often be a tedious process, and importing translated strings back into the course can cause even more problems, especially if the language uses a non-Latin character set or is a right-to-left language.

Conversely, the HTML5 standard was built with multilingualism in mind. Courses in HTML5 are much easier to extract content from, making everything from quote process to final eye much easier and quicker, reducing TAT and level of frustration for everyone involved. It also supports geolocation and improved semantic tags, allowing us to create cleaner and more understandable code, which in turn makes it easier for web crawlers and translation apps to interpret the content.

Plus, the new <translate> attribute allows developers to tag the elements that should be translated inside HTML5 or use <translate="no">, thus letting localization tools and translation vendors know that the content should stay unchanged.

We Are Just Scratching the Surface

The items detailed above are just a few of the main selling points for HTML5 technology for the e-learning industry. Here are a few more reasons for the move:

  • Cross-browser compatibility – HTML5 enjoys major support from all mainstream browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, Opera), and while they might not all be able to provide support for each new HTML5 feature simultaneously, at the very least they will be able to read the doctype.
  • Game development – With the addition of the new <canvas> tag, HTML5 provides a great, mobile-friendly way to develop fun, interactive games. Imagine all the e-learning courses that could be built as games.
  • Clean code – Graced with simple, elegant, and readable formatting, HTML5 allows developers to write clean and descriptive code, providing easy separation between style and content. It also makes the prepping and localization of content that much easier.

The e-learning industry has often struggled to break up with the past, but that is changing now too. New authoring tools are emerging all the time and are all focusing on HTML5 as the output format while making course creation almost effortless. This is something that allows companies to develop compliance trainings, provide an interactive learning environment for new hires, and easily distribute health and safety trainings. The future of the e-learning industry looks bright, and HTML5 is definitely a part of it.

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