Flash conversion to HTML5 gains urgency for learning content

By John Helmer June 10, 2016

graphic illustrating Flash conversion to HTML5 - superhero business man arrests declining arrow The long slow death of Flash could be entering a terminal phase – with big implications for any organisation that has large amounts of learning content developed in Flash.

Concerns have grown about serious security vulnerabilities in Flash (a patch released in March addressed 23 separate security bugs). Meanwhile, major video platforms such as YouTube, Daily Motion and BBC have either migrated to HTML5 already or are in the process of doing so. Now Google has announced that it will phase out full support for Flash in its Chrome browser by the end of 2016, seen by many as sounding the death knell. Other browsers, too, are following suit.

This raises the worry that Flash might be supported by Adobe going forward with less than 100% enthusiasm and energy – making security worries all the more intense when it comes to legacy content.

Of course, publicly, Adobe is committed to not leaving its past users high and dry: ‘the responsible thing for Adobe to do is to continue to support Flash with updates and fixes, as we help the industry transition,’ it told Fortune. However, the company’s statements leave no doubt as to where the future lies: ‘Looking ahead, we encourage content creators to build with new web standards.’ Meaning, principally, HTML5. Renaming its web animation software from Adobe Flash Professional to Adobe Animate CC was seen as yet another step in the company’s distancing itself from the Flash brand.

So where does this leave organisations with hours and hours of learning content developed in Flash – content that might be in daily use around the organisation, but which could increasingly become the source of business-critical security risks?

For most organisations, converting their legacy learning content will not be an either/or decision. They absolutely have to do it. Aside from the security issues, there is an ever-increasing demand for learning content to be accessible via mobile devices, and Flash does not support mobile delivery well.

So the pressing question over Flash conversion to HTML5 is not ‘should we?’ – but ‘how best can we do it?’. Heads of learning departments know they have to convert their flash-based elearning programmes to HTML5: what they will be scratching their heads about is how to do it without incurring ridiculous costs, on the one hand, or degrading quality on the other.

In an increasingly globalised industry, there are plenty of suppliers out there offering cheap deals on Flash conversion: the problem is, what comes back might represent a loss in production value, instructional effectiveness and accessibility standards. One also has to factor in the sheer size of many content libraries. What might seem like a cheap conversion deal in terms of low hourly rate becomes not-so-cheap if there turns out to be a high management overhead and an inefficient, non-scalable workflow.

In many cases the best route will be for an inhouse team to manage the conversion, but they might need training, support and a robust, enterprise-scale authoring platform.

The tool we use for Flash-to-HTML5 conversion is CourseBuilder 8. It ticks all these boxes, providing the ideal authoring environment for converting large scale content libraries. With a workflow that supports multiple authors, reviewers and administrators, in multiple geographies, if necessary, it creates one course that can be output to multiple devices – desktop, tablet or smartphone ­– in multiple languages (full disclosure, we make and sell it!).

And it’s worth noting that content conversion can also be an opportunity to upgrade content by making it accessible to more device types and in new languages ­– but also to chunk it differently, make it searchable for just-in-time delivery, add adaptive learning features, and many other improvements.

Now is great time to get legacy learning content converted to HTML5. Just contact our Mr Converter, Mark Probert, and we’ll be in touch!

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