In 1996, Macromedia acquired a little web animation tool that began to revolutionize the way we experienced media on the desktop (and eventually our cellphones). Now owned by Adobe, Flash was the go-to web-streaming and animation software for everything from eLearning to The Simpsons. That was then; this is now. Turns out, Flash has been plagued with issues nearly since its birth, and its death is upon us. It's seriously time to move your eLearning to HTML5. Here's why.
What's the difference between Flash and HTML5?
Flash and HTML5 have some important differences that really affect their usability (for better or worse!).
Flash uses too much power for mobile
On a very basic level, Flash is unsustainable in terms of battery life. The resources to run Flash make it clunky and inefficient, especially in terms of eLearning. HTML5 requires less bandwidth for the same performance, preserving battery life in mobile devices.
Flash requires a plug-in
For companies that do not allow their individual users to make changes to their own computers, adding and updating a plug-in every time Flash updates becomes clunky, time-consuming, and unmanageable.
HTML5 offers a more agile eLearning authoring tool that doesn’t require frequent updates.
Flash is, well, really "buggy"
In what may have hastened the already-quickening death of Flash, on August 11, 2016 alone, Adobe had to fix 34 bugs in their Flash player. There were 12 Flash updates in 2015 alone that addressed over 300 bugs, bugs that could have allowed malicious software to infiltrate any company’s computers.
These fixes and updates also hinder project development and rollout. Nobody has time for that.
HTML5 is more accessible
Unlike Flash, HTML5 is supported on all Apple products without any plug-ins and across all browsers on desktop computers and laptops. That HTML5 is available on all devices makes it a better choice for companies who want their employees to be able to access media on the go.
Years ago, Steve Jobs wrote a manifesto explaining why Flash should be discontinued, most importantly due to issues with security and performance. Adobe has been unable to effectively address these two things as technology advances.
You know it’s time to make the switch to HTML5 eLearning tools when Adobe themselves proclaim that Flash is dead. By 2020, Adobe will no longer be updating, developing, or otherwise utilizing Flash in their arsenal of creative tools. Although they will still need to maintain a minimum level of security because Flash was so widely used, they will no longer be as diligent. This could mean dangerous news for companies still using Flash.
Is it really worth it to switch my training over?
The short answer? Yes.
The longer answer? Yessss.
Switching your trainings to HTML5 is not just a good choice. It’s the only one.
HTML5 has become the new industry standard for eLearning. This means that companies that decide to stick with their old standby Flash-based courses may find their multimedia presentations covered with a black box as some of the largest websites (like YouTube) move to HTML5.
What are the benefits of making the switch?
Because Flash uses so many resources – both in terms of battery life and the IT department for updates, bug fixes, and security breaches – mLearning may not be possible. For a workforce that is heavily millennial, mLearning offers employees manageable bits of just-in-time training through mobile devices. For industries that rely on constant regulatory updates or strict process-oriented actions that frequently change, mLearning is crucial.
Training your team in HTML5 is a move towards the future. For companies stuck in the Flash rut, many resources that rely on Flash will be outdated before they even get to market. Updating your company’s skillset by utilizing training and tools designed in HTML5 keeps you competitive. An eLearning module is only effective if it can be fully experienced and accessed.
Finally, HTML5 offers better device security than Flash. Bugs in Flash open the door for malicious attacks on sensitive company data. While it’s true that nothing online is 100% safe from hackers who spend their days trying to compromise data, HTML5 offers fewer points of entry than Flash. In a technological climate that sees massive data breaches and hacks weekly, any increased amount of security is good.
How do I make the switch?
There is a three-pronged approach that will help you and your company make the switch from Flash to HTML5.
Prong 1: Identify which courses or course modules are Flash-based
If you don't already know, the easiest way to do this is to attempt to launch the course on an iPhone or an iPad. Alternatively, in a PC, you can right-click anywhere on the course or module. A pop-up window will offer options, the last of which will say “About Adobe Flash player…” If this is present, your course is Flash-based.
Prong 2: Identify the best HTML5 eLearning authoring tools
There are many HTML5 eLearning authoring tools available; urge in-house course developers to make use of them in future courses. If HTML5 is superior for eLearning in terms of portability, accessibility, and use of resources, it makes no sense to continue developing in Flash.
Prong 3: Work with a professional
Converting your Flash eLearning course to HTML5 isn’t a simple drag-and-drop operation. There are times when resources, including time, energy, and money, are best spent with a company who specializes in making the leap into the future of eLearning course design. Converting courses that work smoothly across devices often requires the attention of a professional.
Edgepoint Learning is a leader in eLearning course design and redevelopment. We can help update your slow, clunky Flash courses to fresh and agile HTML5 platforms. Get in touch today to formulate a plan that will best address your company’s needs.