During the coffee break, I was catching up with my e-learning developer colleague who is an ace in rapid authoring tools and he was mentioning how the advent of rapid authoring tools has redefined the e-learning development. It was a welcome change for the developers from flash to using rapid authoring tools, most of which had a very intuitive user interface and require no programming skills.

However he also mentioned about another development, which has rather caused a turbulence in the e-learning world – the proliferation of mobile devices and the usage of mobile for learning. The present day clients are preferring m-learning over the traditional e-learning approach because of the host of benefits it provides. In most cases the clients are demanding HTML 5 output. To know more about HTML5  and its role in e-learning refer to my previous blog.

This conversation got me thinking what does this shift to HTML 5 mean for e-learning developers? In my opinion it simply means that they need to shed their inhibitions and bring about a mindset change in which responsive e-learning takes the primary seat. Let’s analyse a few aspects of this shift.

1. Mobile first approach

Whenever the developers think about HTML5 output they have to think “mobile first” as opposed to “computer”. So while developing the developer has to think about

i) How the content looks in mobile format?
ii) Is the image size too large for mobile devices?
iii) Can this audio format be playable across mobile devices?
iv) Can this video format supports mobile devices?

So in each and every step the developer has to keep mobile devices output in mind and develop the module.

2. Develop a coding skill set

In order to develop a HTML5 content relying on rapid authoring tool is not sufficient. You need to acquire knowledge on HTML5 basics, CSS and Java-scripts as well in order to build the proper HTML5 content.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is one the basics of building Web applications and it offers the visual layout across variety of devices. It is mainly used to describe the presentation of Web pages such as colors, layout and fonts. It helps to adapt the content in different types of devices.

Java Scripts are mainly sued for image manipulation, form validation and to change the dynamic changes in the content.

3. Testing skill set

Once you have built the content around HTML5, most of the people will think it will be visible universally in the same way on multiple platforms. However the truth is, as these content is rendered by different browsers like Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox due to its various features and functions it might look different and some tweaking needs to be done in order to create the universal output. In order to do that the developer has to test the HTML5 content across multiple browsers and across multiple devices.

In HTML5 although it allows you to input multimedia elements flawlessly into the course. You need to check which type of audio and video format supports the web browser in the mobile devices and the developer has to suit the common format such as MP4 for Video and MP3/wav format for audio so that it can be played across multiple devices as well.

4. Explore the support which the rapid authoring tools provide

Nowadays various authoring tools offer HTML5 as the direct output whenever the developer is creating a project using the authoring tool. However as mentioned above, HTML5 output does not render itself uniformly across browsers and devices and hence the developer should be well versed with whether the tool supports inserting some additional codes (js etc).

HTML5 is the new industry standard and more developers and e-learning professionals are moving on from Flash courses to HTML5 courses as it offers wide range of benefits. So have you made the mindset shift? Please share your thoughts.