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HTML5 – The Next Evolution for eLearning

HTML5 - Game Changer

Without boring you to death on the details of HTML5, what I will say is this will be a game changer in our industry for a number of reasons.html5-eLearning

  • Improves video and audio quality - extensively - thus your Social Learning/Social Media experience has just increased infinitely; Vivemo, and YouTube (beta) are already offering videos in HTML5 players.
  • Improved interactivity over Flash
  • Open Source not Proprietary like Flash
  • Enhanced multimedia
  • APIs
  • Localization
  • Uses 20% of computer resources compared to 40% for Flash - this makes a big difference when someone is trying to view anything, regardless of their internet connection (DSL, Cable, Modem, T1, etc.)
  • Works in the Ipad Tablet and will work in other manufacture tablets, smartphones too - M-Learning to the next level. Oh, e-readers - sure down the pipeline.
  • Not buggy - Flash is buggy
  • Supports file drag and drop capabilities
  • All the big browsers are supporting it i.e. Safari, Chrome, Microsoft IE9, Opera and soon FireFox (at time of writing, not yet)
  • Eliminates plugins (could it be the end of Silverlight?) Flash requires a plugin (especially for updates)
  • You can build courses in HTML5, as you would in Flash -- thus as rapid e-learning authoring tools see this as common place, they will need to adapt, thus enabling HTML5 files to be inserted
  • Mobile learning features that will far exceed anything that is possible today

What is the downside?

Right now, the only downside are video codecs. Sadly, there is not one standard. Video codecs enable you to view video on your computer (they exist in your player for example), and are already installed. Sometimes, you may see the infamous, "unable to play video" or "codec not installed", which means you are missing that codec. So, you have to go online to a codec directory and download the appropriate codec. Codecs exist for audio and video.

So, who uses what?

Google Chrome, Microsoft IE9 and Apple Safari supports h.264, a proprietary format. Chrome also supports VP8 - proprietary only to Google

Firefox 4.0 and Opera will support Ogg Theora, a free codec.

Can I see HTML5 sites now?

Yes and No

Yes: Apple Safari, Firefox 4.0 (not live) and Google Chrome (you need the latest version, which is in beta, but can be downloaded and works). Safari does support Microsoft OS (Operating Systems).

Somewhat: Microsoft IE9 (in beta) plus the Google Chrome Frame Installed - you can see HTML5 sites, without the Chrome Frame installed you can see only a few sites. One that you definitely cannot see is YouTube's HTML5 beta player. Opera, you can only see a few HTML5 sites.

What if I have one of those browsers, but the site is not HTML5 or supports HTML5?

No worry. If you visit a site that does not support or has implemented HTML5, the browser will automatically revert back, so that you can still view the page, the video, images, everything as you currently see it today. Even Flash.

How Superior is HTML5 to Flash?

Here are some sites, there players and examples:

  • Jilion - On-screen controls to play and pause the video, a button that takes it to full-screen mode and keyboard shortcuts that play, pause, and launch or exit from full-screen. Download a HTML5 browser to see the full power. Recommend one that supports h.264.
  • Advection - To see it, download one of the HTML5 supported browsers - recommend one that supports h.264.

Is Flash dead?

Not in the foreseeable future. Some camps have full HTML5 web page development implementation somewhere around 2012-2021, which clearly is a big gap. It will be interesting though to see how Adobe handles this battle, since it is clear that the browsers and especially Microsoft support HTML5.

In the who wins category, many people compare it to HD-DVD (Flash) vs Blu-Ray (HTML5), and we all know how that turned out.

Bottom line

Betamax vs DVD. End of story. Uh, and Flash isn't DVD.

by Craig Weiss, E-Learning 24/7 (

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