E-learning & Flash: the end is nigh and what now? (8 non-flash solutions)

Since the web replaced cd-roms, there hasn’t been a bigger shock to the e-learning market than the killing of Flash by Apple. Ever since Apple so successfully introduced the iPad and announced that Flash would not be supported, the e-learning world has been in all states. And now that Microsoft will be following suit (no support for Flash or even Silverlight on tablets), the end is really nigh.

Let’s face it, Flash was the first technology that was suitable for (reliable) multimedia content on the internet. When it was first introduced, it was one of many plugin based technologies and there was some resistance as plugins were frowned upon. But Macromedia and later Adobe went on to develop an incredibly stable and useful technology and just about everybody happily installed the plugin. Many – actually nearly all – e-learning companies have been using tools which are based on Flash. Especially the rise of ‘rapid e-learning’ (relatively simple e-learning roughly based on PowerPoint presentations) which often used voice overs, video and relatively simple interactions and testing.

I was recently asked to offer my opinion on what strategy would be wise when developing a new e-learning course in the near future (in this case for a healthcare project). The big dilemma (there are lots) was of course: does one use flash for another few years and ignore iPad or find a tool that outputs HTML5 (or maybe even basic HTML) .

I didn’t realize what I was getting into when I doing some research. My wish list: an efficient production approach that can scale (at least a promise of workflow) and a tool that could offer rich media (video, voice over, learning interactions etc.) and all this based on HTML5. And – I thought this would be obvious: something that really works…

There is an incredible amount of software developers struggling with the HTML5 issue. Actually, it really isn’t possible to publish HTML5 without problems at all (right now) and I don’t think it will  become as easy to publish HTML5 as it was Flash for the next couple of years. As we speak, there is,for example, not one single HTML5 video format that will work in all browsers.

Anyway… I thought I would share some things I discovered. If you think I missed an important tool that produces HTML5 based e-learning, I’ll add it.
There’s one thing you need to know: not one of these tools can guarantee anything. HTML5 is just not finished and it won’t be easy to build a tool that makes e-learning production for all platforms as easy as it was during the Flash-era.

Articulate: one of the main players in the rapid e-learning market. A pretty good product which works with a Powerpoint plugin so that you can use Powerpoint to design about 90% of the product. It has been rumored Articulate is working on a HTML5 tool but nothing has been announced. www.articulate.com

Moodle: the famous open source LCMS isn’t really good at rich media but as it’s all HTML you can use it in combination with e.g. youtube video (which is HTML5). www.moodle.com

EXE: an open source editor which produces scorm complaint HTML-only courses (demonstrated on the Moodle demo site). Not supported anymore and outdated. There have been people willing to take over the project but I haven’t been able to find any progress being made. exelearning.org

Lectora:  they have announced publishing-templates for iPad but it’s a steep learning curve and you have to know what works and what doesn’t as Lectory does lots of things that won’t work on iPads. www.lectora.com

Captivate: Adobe announced HTML5 support (by export) for Captivate, one of the leading tools for rapid learning and tutorial development. I’m not the only one that has tested it and I’m not the only one that found that  it just doesn’t work. Rumor has it that Adobe is starting from scratch and will be offering something new. www.adobe.com/products/captivate

Udemy: an interesting startup offering basic course development tools (mostly video and text) and publishing tools (you can earn money!). As they have avoided really interactive learning, it will work on an iPad. www.udemy.com

Luminosity: this start-up offers an interesting tool for developing HTML5 e-learning. The interactions are all a bit simple but it’s new so worth looking at. Includes some workflow. www.cm-luminosity.com

Rapid Intake MLearning:  the only tool I have found that offers working examples for IOS. A bit rough and relatively expensive but worth taking another look at.  Rapid Intake also offers a LMS and they also offer cloud collaboration tools. rapidintake.com/mlearning-studio

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