All we need to do is take a look around us to witness the wide adoption of mobile devices in recent years. This reality poses huge challenges for instructional designers as we cannot blind ourselves and expect that today´s learners will be solely consuming content through a PC or a laptop. At some point, we will have to break ourselves of the usual practice of publishing only Flash-based output since Adobe´s Flash is no longer supported by every operative system.
Thus, if you don´t want any device to set up a barrier between your audience and your content, the HTML5 web standard emerges as an effective alternative to create multi-device applications and has become serious competition for, until now, one of the most reliable and preeminent delivery method in the eLearning industry.
However, the fact that Flash is not supported by every mobile OS or the fact that platform-specific solutions are very costly to develop shouldn´t be the only reasons why to embrace HTML5. The truth is that HTML5 supports various multimedia formats, facilitates content delivery and accessibility across different devices and contexts, can also allow for advanced interactivity, and can make use of some of the mobile devices built-in capabilities. For developers, HTML5 adoption means a better workflow in terms of edition and development. HTML5 allows for more agile updating and development cycles: you create once, deliver your content through every browser and then, you can revise, change and republish your information whenever you need to do so.
As Judy Unrein points out in her outstanding report on HTML5 web technologies, “some elements of HTML5 could greatly enhance learning experiences” and help us design cross-platform content. According to Unrein, some of these elements are scalable vector graphics, direct integration of audio and video, drag-and-drop interactions usable without any plug-in required (by the way, you can find my first, naive attempt with HTML5 here :)) and geolocalization for contextualization of content.
Some eLearning vendors have started to realize the importance of offering mobile delivery options but it seems that they still have a long way to go to produce a completely flawless output and to take full advantage of all the elements mentioned above. In the meantime, their efforts are welcomed and I´ll continue exploring new applications as well as the latest web technologies to deliver richer and richer experiences across different contexts.