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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Mobile Learning and the Continuing Death of Flash

About a year ago, I wrote about the Beginning of Long Slow Death of Flash. I pointed to Scribd switching from Flash to HTML, and pointed to their CTO Jared Friedman saying:

"We are scrapping three years of Flash development and betting the company on HTML5 because we believe HTML5 is a dramatically better reading experience than Flash. Now any document can become a Web page."

mLearning-iphone-ipadYesterday, I saw what Rapid Intake is doing with their tools to allow authoring of Mobile Learning - what they call mLearning Studio. By way of background, Rapid Intake provides tools that allow you to very rapidly input content that is composed into courses. The mobile version allows you to compose mobile learning courses using the same authoring system. You choose templates, add text, images, audio, video and quizzes, then publish for web and mobile. It can play back on iPhone, iPad, and Android with support for Blackberry coming soon.

The look of the course is slightly different on the different form factors. For example, you use next and back in a browser, swipe in an iPhone. Table of contents is persistent on the iPad and is a pop-up on the iPhone. Etc. And yes, the mobile version is SCORM conformant. If you want to find out more, you can see a video via the link above.

But here's where it gets interesting...

Rapid Intake's web player is Flash-based. The mobile version is HTML 5.

They've basically been forced (because mobile doesn't play Flash) to go with a completely different technology for their mobile player. The really nice thing for them is that they are a form-based authoring tool (much like an LCMS). That has made their transition to mobile much easier that other authoring tools that are much more closely tied to Flash (and I think you know who I mean).

The death of Flash is continuing.

12 comments:

Mark Gbur said...

I feel somewhat the opposite but these articles are interesting to see pop up. To me this is just a click-bait article since it is popular to "oppose Flash" right now. Flash if anything, is on the rise if anything in Education.

Sure, lots of sites are switching from Flash to HTML5, and they have to if they want to 'get subscriptions' and sell their services to users across many different devices and platforms, even more so that mobile is becoming a more of a primary device.

However, Education still operates under the paradigm that interactive is better and you take what you can get. There are too many old Flash activities out there, and it is cheap and easy to design and deploy. It would be a very hard sell to a program, department, or University to reinvest the effort to redesign every elment they have unless there is some obvious payoff and I cannot think of one, as of today.

Personally, I don't believe Flash won't be dead until Adobe kills it. If CS6 or CS7 comes out with a tool to convert your Flash files to HTML5 and your Captivate presentations to HTML5, then Flash will be dead, but probably not until Adobe says so.

That being said, many of the HTML5 deployments have been a success and I am all for cross-platform compatibility. However, I am against self imposed platform superiority (iPad choosing not to play nice with Flash).

Cheers,
-Mark

moloko said...

Still ain't nothing that can do animation like Flash can. And HTML 5.0 still has the same old cross-browser issues that HTML 3 & 4 had. Until those problems are solved, Flash will be sticking around.

Tony Karrer said...

Mark - great comment. I completely agree that no one (Education, Corporation) is going to go back and redo things that are authored and produced into Flash. Maybe if it was done in a tool that is as simple as pushing a button.

Of course, that's part of the reason that the choice of tools right now is even more important. If you choose a tool that's heavily dependent on Flash - what is going to happen in a couple of years when LOTS of people want to see it on a tablet?

@Moloko - I agree with you that there are animations and interactions that are WAY easier and better to do in Flash.

Does anyone remember 1996? We were using Authorware (or Icon Author or Toolbook) to author CD ROM based multimedia training. The Internet was clearly coming but it was really bad and hard to do. I think we are seeing a similar pattern here.

Guy Boulet said...

"They've basically been forced (because mobile doesn't play Flash)"

You probably mean: because Apple's IOs does not play flash. I can play flash content on my Android phone.

Tony Karrer said...

@Guy - dang where's that edit button. You are correct.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought Flash worked on the Android and Symbian operating systems, which as of 3rd quarter 2010 garner 25.5 and 36.6 percent of the smartphone market share. The iOS is around 17 percent. I mean Flash could be on the way out, but with economic facts like this, it would be a really long slow death, enough time to reinvent if necessary. Just an observation.

-Steve

Kevin Thorn said...

The "death of Flash" debate I believe began last year with the mainstream intro of HTML5 right about the same time Apple announced changing their development policy 'not' to allow the Flash authoring environment to publish apps...at the very same time Flash was preparing to launch CS5. What a mess!

In that last year, a couple observations are very clear:
1. Mobile is clearly on the rise.
2. HTML5 is long way from mainstream.
3. Many 3rd party software outputs to .swf with no immediate plans to re-engineer their products.
4. Flash is still a major (and in some cases the only) tool for developing complex games.
5. Flash is a primary authoring tool for broadcast TV animations.

In the world of eLearning and mLearning, I think we get too focused worrying about how Flash/No-Flash will impact our industry. It's clear that we are moving more and more to mobile delivery of content and the web plays a big part in that. Yet, most corporations do not have a mobile strategy yet let alone an eLearning one.

HTML5 is changing the mindset of web development, yes. Many are converting in preparation for cross-platform delivery, yes. Will it happen overnight? No.

Sorry HTML5, you still have a long way to go to "kill" Flash.

Calvin Kroll said...

For now I am excited about HTML5 and its potential capability but not as a replacement to Flash, at least not yet.

Garin Hess said...

Tony, thanks for the review of mLearning Studio.

Totally agree with Mark Gbur and Anonymous (aka Steve). Flash is not dying. Love the discussion out here though. Just posted an article detailing 5 reasons Flash is not dying in case anyone is interested: http://shoutout.rapidintake.com/2011/02/5-reasons-flash-is-not-dyinggive-me.html

Still, it is amazing to see HTML5 work so well cross-platform on iPhone, iPad, Android, and later Blackberries. It shows a lot of promise.

escalante blogger said...

I think flash is still important for so many reasons.

David Glow said...

Not just for all the reasons mentioned above, but Flash has been a leading dev tool- esp. in the area of elearning (almost unchallenged)-for a decade.

There is a ton of legacy content that folks will not give up or convert, no matter what Jobs thinks.

Muerte said...

As a relative newcomer to the field of social/mobile learning, most of the opinions I have read regarding the debate between FLASH vs. HTML5 are somewhat fanatical and short-sighted.

Why do we feel the need to hold to one delivery method and disregard the other? Why not use either one, based on our unique audience's need?

For example, Mark pointed out that many Educational institutions are still invested in Flash. All their students have desktop devices that play Flash-rich files. The same goes for many major corporations. My point is, we shouldn't let corporate announcements or popular trends dictate our learning strategies.

Bryan