There’s no other Industry in the world that was more affected by Apple refusing to embrace Adobe Flash in their iOS devices like the eLearning Industry.
I don’t have the exact numbers but I would venture to say that more than 98% of all eLearning was/is based on Adobe Flash (i.e. the learner needs to have the Flash Player installed) and thus making it an interesting challenge for our Industry to make the transition to mobile learning (mLearning), especially because of the market share that Apple commands with the iPad and the iPhone.
When I worked at Adobe, the question I most frequently heard from my customers was: how can we make our existing eLearning projects play on the iPad?
I have been and continue to be a big fan of Flash from my days when I worked at Macromedia and more recently at Adobe and was pretty ticked off when Apple posted Steve Job’s Thoughts on Flash.
However for a while now, I have been thinking that in some strange way this move by Apple turned out to be a great thing for all of us in eLearning and more specifically as we transition to mLearning.
Let me explain.
The way I see it, if Apple had embraced Flash on iOS devices, all of us in eLearning would have been in a very comfortable situation and would have simply kept doing what we were doing publishing to Flash and called it a day.
But what about the experience for mobile users?
By doing so, I believe we not only would have defeated the purpose and uniqueness of mobile but we would be doing a disservice to our learners on mobile, too.
Why? because the Mobile experience is drastically different in virtually every way to the Desktop experience and as such, learning on mobile should too be different from how we consume learning on the desktop.
This is why I strongly believe the lack of Flash on iOS devices is a blessing in disguise, because it forces us to find new ways of developing learning experiences for mobile users, as well as to embrace new technologies, such as HTML5 and new principles, such as Responsive Web Design and thinking mobile-first.
Can we make a successful transition from eLearning to mLearning without Adobe Flash? Absolutely we can.
We just need to think outside the eLearning box and embrace new ways of thinking about engaging mobile learners. We need to stop thinking that we all we need to do is convert our desktop eLearning to HTML5 and we are done. We need to get out of our comfort zone and explore mobile applications and learn about what these apps do well and apply these principles to our mLearning design. We need to explore other industries such as web design and new movements around it such as Responsive web design and learn how these principles are being used to develop once and deploy the same content across desktops, smartphone and Tablets without plug-ins.
So there you have it. I invite you to stop dwelling on whether or not Flash will ever work on iOS devices (in my opinion it never will) and start brainstorming on how we can deliver better learning experiences to our mobile learners. Because the mobile revolution is real and we are at a point of no return!
Do you agree?