Technology & Learning

So Flash is really going away. What do we do with our learning content?

If you have not already begun to migrate your courses from Flash to HTML5, you may want to ask for help in catching up. Time is running out to convert all your favorite learning content so they will continue to run in modern browsers and connect with LMS and other tracking technologies.

Let’s face it. The writing has been on the wall for a long time.  A little over 7 years ago, Apple darkened Flash’s future by letting the industry know that they were not going to support Flash on their iOS devices. They said mobile was all about open Web standards, mobility, security and touch interfaces, none of which are Flash’s strengths. Since that announcement, browser companies have made it clearly evident that they would transition away from Flash. They demonstrated this by limiting access to Flash features in their browser screens, by providing Flash “Compatibility Mode” settings and by forcing “Flash incompatibility” by default.

Even Adobe changed the name of their Flash programming tool to “Adobe Animate”, and added some HTML5 export capability. It is well known that Flash does not work on most mobile devices. There were short-lived attempts to create mobile Apps that would permit Flash to run on most mobile devices (albeit very slowly), but none of those Apps could efficiently handle all of the creative nuances in programming found in Flash games, animations, simulations and video. And they did not deal with the security issues that still exist in Flash.

Why HTML5 Won Over Flash

A staple for eLearning course content, in its prime, Adobe Flash was seen as the future of 2D games, complex interactions and video. There were many companies whose primary focus was producing Flash-based templates, games, quizzes and other reusable Flash code. Experienced Flash programmers could easily produce prototypes for customer demonstrations in a day. If Apple had seen Flash as a viable standard for producing mobile Apps, and Adobe had improved Flash to resolve its areas of weakness, the end story might have been different. However, that would have proven to be a huge undertaking, and there was already an elegant alternative ready to be put to the test.

It was a long journey, but here comes HTML5, which was already on the path toward complete cross-platform compatibility, including multiple mobile device operating systems and PC-browsers. Although HTML5 has proven to be the most successful strategy going forward, most in the learning industry understand that you can’t simply shift your factory overnight from Flash-based learning development to HTML5 development.

Converting Learning Content from Flash to HTML5 – A Bumpy Journey

It has not been an easy journey for HTML5. Early in the Flash-HTML5 transition:

  • HTML5 conversion tools and templates were scarce,
  • Learning developers experienced in both Flash and HTML5 had not yet emerged, and
  • Adobe had not yet provided an HTML5 export capability.

The existing HTML5 development tools were mostly version 1.0 from startup companies, were very light on feature sets, and did not provide the SCORM interface needed for tracking of course progress in an LMS.

This type of change in technology has had a deep impact on learning development companies. Changes needed to be made in skillsets and personnel. Learning development teams needed to train-up their programmers to make the conversion to HTML5. Also, they need to upgrade their experience with SCORM, and eventually xAPI and LRS to keep moving their technology forward in the Adaptive Learning space. And it does not stop there, programming skills are required in Java Script and CSS.

Overcoming the Challenges

It has taken much practice to transition the engaging exercises and interactions, complex animations and simulations previously programmed in Flash to HTML5. At Raytheon Professional Services, after upgrading our own development technology to HTML5, we are now able to build secure, engaging and trackable learning content in responsive interfaces compatible across all devices.

We are rapidly moving forward with new solutions. Over the last few years, organizations like RPS have built libraries of reusable HTML5 code, templates and design models that have expedited the HTML5 development process. This also helps us to maintain compatibility with the ever-changing mobile devices and operating systems. Our HTML5 platform and processes permit us to push the limits with gaming, simulations and integrate with more advanced solutions. By providing information at the point of need, and by loading content to a user’s device has proven to be a powerful method for information access. We now deploy user-specific HTML5 content through Electronic Performance Support Systems, Interactive Video, and through the rapid conversion of Flash-based eLearning to HTML5 for mobile devices and PC browsers.

Would you like to hear more about how Raytheon Professional Services has prepared itself in advance? Contact Us here!

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