It’s very much known that on Jan 1, 2020 Adobe Flash will become obsolete and all the browsers will stop supporting content created using Flash. As about half the elearning content today is consumed on mobile devices and major portion of learning budget is targeted for mobile learning, HTML5 is the obvious choice for development of elearning courses as it supports all desktop platforms and mobile devices, allowing fully leveraged mobility, and ease of access.

In our previous post, we talked about why HTML5 is the obvious choice for modern day elearning content. Here, we will talk about migration/conversion of Flash content to HTML5, scope of enhancing the courses, and making them more effective for modern elearning using various rapid authoring tools.

Here are the steps to convert Flash Content to HTML5

Flash to HTML5 - The Impact on eLearning and Online Courses - Part 2

Approaches to Convert Flash Content to HTML5

There are various approaches we can take to convert Flash content to HTML5. Depending on the requirement, one of the approaches is followed.

If the elearning course does not have a lot of media elements we republish the source files using updated authoring tools that give a HTML5 compatible output, which means the courses are platform and device independent.

There might be a situation where we don’t have the source files of the Flash courses anymore, in this case we record the Flash courses in the form of a .mp4 video, import them into one of the rapid authoring tools and publish them as HTML5 courses.

Conversion of Flash content to HTML5 gives us an opportunity to enhance the legacy courses. Flash courses have been used for years and they have been based on learning strategies of many years back. Maybe it’s time not just to convert the Flash courses to HTML5 but also to overhaul your learning strategy. Maybe it’s time to add interactive elements, an effective instructional design strategy, social learning aspects, and micro learning to your learning strategy. This is the right time to recreate that powerful learning content which is equipped with all enhancements and is at par with modern learning techniques. If this is the case you can revamp the courses or recreate them from scratch using the latest authoring tools.

This is the right time to recreate a powerful learning content equipped with all the enhancements that are at par with modern learning techniques. You can revamp the courses or recreate them from scratch with a revised instructional design strategy, and media elements using the latest authoring tools

It’s a good practice to evaluate the worthiness of the entire exercise before embarking on the conversion process.  Maybe it’s wiser to build HTML courses from scratch and retire the existing Flash based courses, or save a portion, and enhance the rest with interactivity. Complexity level rises with the level of enhancement and it needs a careful analysis of factors like, the size of the curriculum, volume of media, animations in the course, the objective of the course, and more.

Depending on the current state of the elearning content and the learning strategy of the organization we decide what level of enhancement elements to be used for the new HTML courses. Organizations that have an inhouse expertise pass it on to the responsible teams for the migration or conversion. What should organizations without in-house skills do? Whom do they consult? 

If the volume of content is huge it’s worthwhile to outsource the conversion project to an experienced vendor with a track record in elearning and content technology. Impelsys has been in the edtech industry for over a decade now and we have expertise in Flash to HTML5 conversion of elearning courses. If you want to know more about our services, contact us at corpmarketing@impelsys.com

Adobe announced its decision not to support, update, and distribute Flash Player from 2020. Flash will be phased out by 2020, organizations across the elearning industry are gearing up for d-day when Flash published content will be blocked on all browsers and HTML5 will be the new standard on the web. Read further to understand the impact on elearning through this 2 part series of articles. Here’s the link to the second part.

The reasons for this decision include:

  • Incompatibility of Flash with mobile devices – does not allow resizing to fit a mobile or tablet screen
  • Poor security of the information sent or received
  • Heavy usage of the device’s power and performance

All the browsers will stop supporting Flash content by 2020 and there would be a need to look out for alternative technologies to develop courses. As organizations are constantly looking at the concept of anytime, anywhere learning on any device, HTML is the popular alternative, it provides functionalities that are more stable and scalable compared to Flash content.

As the entire web is now moving from Flash content to HTML5, which is more supportive of the modern devices and platforms, and an open system, what happens to all the content built on Flash? What happens to the courses published as Flash output? 

There’s no reason to panic. There are various solutions you can avail to convert your Flash content as well as Flash published courses to HTML5.

Before that let’s delve on how HTML5 is a more optimal solution than Flash for modern elearning

  1. Security: HTML5 is more secure than Flash, HTML5 is not a plugin like Flash, and security updates are agile and done on the browser itself, all of this makes HTML5 more secure and apt for modern elearning.
  2. Compatibility: HTML5 is an open web markup language recognized by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and incorporated in all modern-day browsers. Courses built on HTML5 will render smoothly on all current browsers.
  3. Multi Device Access: Learners these days own multiple devices and they want to access content on all of them, without hassle. Flash content is created to work on PCs, HTML5 content works seamlessly across platforms and devices.
  4. Hardware Efficiency: As compared to Flash content, platforms and devices consume less than half the battery power and chip capacity when rendering HTML content. This is what we need as we use elearning in greater volume and use our devices for a wide range of applications.
  5. Added Advantages: HTML5 allows creation of mobile based quick bites of lessons. It supports interactivity and gamified learning to a higher degree.

By 2020, Flash will be obsolete, which mandates elearning providers to transition to HTML5 and convert their existing content to the open system from Flash. Like we said, there’s nothing to panic as it’s not a Herculean task, but the sooner we get onto it the better and easier it will be.

Keep watching this space for more details on the process and methodologies followed during the migration and conversion of your content from Flash to HTML5.

Write back to us for queries and feedback @ corpmarketing@impelsys.com

Blockchain in Publishing

Blockchain, an invention in digital technology touted equivalent in significance to that of the internet itself, has created waves in the tech world in the last couple of years. A technology developed by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, blockchain basically is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. It is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way,  inherently resistant to modification of data. With Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as its fundamental application currently blockchain is supposed to transcend many other aspects of life and industries, including publishing. Blockchain in publishing is a potential use case now with experts and analysts considering various solutions using the technology which were long due in the publishing industry.

Copyright

Copyright infringement is an age-old nemesis of the book industry. Blockchain can come to rescue with cryptographically time- and person-stamping the act of publication. A website called Blockai uses the blockchain for writers and artists to timestamp their work, keep a “vigilant eye” out for anyone violating their copyright, create a permanent record of their work and issue their clients a time-stamped copyright certificate. Blockchain enables us to record the ownership of any asset, physical or intellectual, and trade ownership of that asset.

Addison Cameron-Huff, a Toronto-based lawyer whose specialties include bitcoin and blockchain businesses and copyright infringement, told the Bitcoin Magazine: “One application for blockchains that I expect to see is a registry of ownership (history of assignments). It can be very difficult to trace the ownership chain for copyrighted works (especially with multiple authors, e.g. sound + video + text). Traceable ownership is a problem domain that blockchains are especially well suited for.”

Smart Contracts

A step farther and a more disruptive application of blockchain is Smart Contracts, distributed ledgers enable the coding of simple contracts that will execute when specified conditions are met. Contracts on paper take time to travel and may get tampered, digital contracts may also get forged, Blockchain-based smart contracts – self-executing code on a blockchain that automatically implements the terms of an agreement between parties, are smoother, more efficient, and more secure for all parties

Smart contracts don’t just contain the terms of a contract but also can act in programmed ways, delivering aspects of an agreement once specific terms are fulfilled. When a new contract or a change to a contract is published to the network, the time needed for this information to be available to all nodes would likely be minutes. If the contracts were sophisticated enough, the complex area of royalties could be handled in almost real time by the system. Once established, these smart contracts could drastically reduce the time and effort currently spent creating and enforcing the terms of contracts

Smart Wallets

With blockchain enabled smart wallets, publishers, booksellers and wholesalers can pay into this author-owned wallets with ease and sans an intermediary. In case of micro subscription like a single article or chapter, readers can pay directly into the author’s wallet. Blockchain wallet will offer advantages beyond secure payment, e.g., it can become a hub for all the people to connect who have been involved with the book – like, service providers, editors and designers, also the coffee shop where much of the book was written, the retreat centre that provided a getaway for thinking, the foundation that provided a grant, the rights buyer who turned it into a film, or print edition; the authors mentors and role models, their local bookshop… and so on.

Privacy

Privacy will be one of the radical applications of blockchain technology in the book industry. Imagine how you could have direct communication with authors without any intermediary, ask for or buy books directly.

These are some of the probable use cases of blockchain in publishing, the technology is developing every day and we won’t be surprised to see more of it in future. Book publishing industry hasn’t seen any substantial growth in revenue, with the majority of it controlled by few of the overgrown retailers. Blockchain with its varied and radical applications is slated to make the business transparent and leveled, albeit it’s still in a conceptual stage for the industry.

Apart from publishing, blockchain technology is thought to bring great promises in other fields. In words of Woanjen Tang, CEO, Orioncoin, “Blockchain technology is developing every day and people are advancing to the next level in technology. People are coming closer together as a global village. Distance is no longer a problem day by day because of today’s infrastructures and technologies. The reality is people are connecting even stronger together through Blockchain far greater than anyone can understand today. A new world is forming, the largest country on earth: “Online”: with people as the government and Blockchain as the weapon.”

Content Accessibility Guidelines

Web is for all. Just as with any other public utility web content access is viewed as required to be egalitarian and web accessibility is expected to recognize a wide range of users, which includes people with disabilities. With this aim to let people with varied range of abilities equally benefit from the internet, the World Wide Web Consortium or W3C has laid down Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG. The current edition of the guideline WCAG 2.0 is a robust, stable and easy-to-implement set of instructions intended to guide web developers and authors worldwide while designing a people friendly website and delivering intelligible content.

The goal of WCAG 2.0 is to provide unbiased access to users who could otherwise have difficulty using the tools designed for a fully abled human. As an example, a user with motor disability might find it difficult to use the mouse to navigate, in such instance the website has to mandatorily provide navigation system that uses only the keyboard. This also helps elderly people who can’t control the mouse precisely to navigate through a site.

Core Principles of WCAG 2.0

According to W3C website the WCAG guideline is organized around four principles.

  1. Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
  2. Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.
  3. Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
  4. Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

Ethics Meet Business Goals

Similar to wheelchair ramps in building design, content accessibility is ethically and legally binding for website developers and content providers on the web. However the legal mandate is eclipsed by commercial benefits of compliance to WCAG 2.0 which gives businesses right reasons to implement the guidelines in web design. If your business has a website it should be accessible to all the users. It should be noted that a considerable size of internet generation is ageing, along with the fact that 3-7 % of the web users are partially disabled. Hence it’s wise for website operators to consider accessibility for this group of users, it adds to website traffic and eliminates those avertable bounces.

A lot of disabled and elderly people prefer online shopping and use internet for many other services. When the website is not friendly for these users they might get put off. Digital reading and online learning is prevalent among the netizens, the portal or the platform needs to be accessible and user friendly for all kind or users. iPublishCentral Suite of products from Impelsys considers accessibility is for all and is designed to accommodate the elderly and disabled. iPublishCentral Ebooks the ebooks delivery platform for publishers and retailers is WCAG 2.0 compatible, meeting level “AA” of the guideline. Navigating and reading on iPublishCentral Ebooks portals and standalone readers is comfortable for all group of users as it meets W3C’s criteria for accessibility.

Implementation

There’s no need of extensive design overhaul to accommodate the Content Accessibility Guidelines recommended by WCAG 2.0. While it’s wise to implement the rules at the design stage some changes and additions like responsive design for mobile access, keyword navigation and using higher color contrast meet most of the recommended guidelines. However it’s recommended to refer to the guidelines provided in the W3C website.

For content providers who use third party tools like iPublishCentral Ebooks it’s advisable to keep the content simple and understandable, use higher color contrast, use alternative text for non-text content and keep the information structured. The platform meets WCAG 2.0 accessibility standard, it provides keyword navigation, text-to-speech conversion and meets other accessibility criteria.

Web content accessibility is more than providing access to the disabled. The concept also requires to provide consistent unhindered access to users across devices, browser types and various screen sizes. Supporting accessibility is good for businesses while it also helps the social credibility of an organization by allowing equal access to all. The goal of internet is to provide information and education without discrimination, WCAG guidelines which are robust and stable go a long way in upholding the philosophy of equal access, helping the users worldwide take most advantage of the web.