What is HTML5 and why is it important in eLearning?

What is HTML5?

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the code that web pages are written in. It helps control how content is displayed online and is known as the backbone of the Internet. Every time you shop online, visit a blog or do a Google search, HTML code is working in the background to create what you see on your screen.

The first version of HTML was created in 1993 and alongside the development of the Internet has gone through various updates. As technology and user behaviour evolves, so do the programs, languages and frameworks that hold it all together. Similar to updating an app on your phone as new features become available, HTML has had to change to keep up with the times.

Whether it’s the ability to display content on a multitude of devices with different screen sizes or displaying interactive content types like video, there are always new challenges to meet.

The last version, HTML4, was released in 1997 when the web was very different to how it is now. Connection speeds and limited download sizes made streaming video virtually unheard of and most websites were small and simple with limited images and colors. It’s safe to say that with the technological advancements of the last 20 years, HTML5 was long overdue.

Much of what we expect now from a modern web experience didn’t natively work with HTML4 and the result was a plethora of plugins trying to fill a gap in the market such as Java, Shockwave and Flash. Not only was this a barrier-to-content but it also presented a possible security risk with hackers planting viruses in apparently harmless plugin downloads.

The final push in the development of HTML5 was the release of the first generation Apple iPhone in 2007. The best-selling smartphone’s web browser didn’t support the resource-heavy Adobe Flash meaning a lot of “fancier” content on the web was suddenly unavailable to a lot of people.

It was agreed by many web developers that there was a need for a modern open-source standard to provide a consistent web experience for all users. The year following the iPhone’s release the first draft of HTML5 was published in January 2008. Then, following years of development, the final version of HTML5 was released in October 2014, giving us the web experience that we know today.

Why is HTML5 important?

So with all that background out of the way, what are the real benefits of HTML5 for everyday users? Within the context of modern technology and user behavior, HTML5 has provided several huge advancements for the Internet.
First of all, we’re now able to natively stream video and audio files in a web browser without plugins.

That means no more risky downloads just to access content, and for anyone who watches video online (and that’s pretty much everyone!) this is a big deal. Furthermore, without the need for third-party software, your connection speeds will be quicker and your laptop or mobile battery lasts longer!

It’s a win-win.

Secondly, HTML5 has been specifically developed with mobile use in mind. The technology market being saturated with smart devices with different screen sizes and resolutions, HTML5 allows users to have a consistent web experience across multiple devices. This has become increasingly vital since Google confirmed that global search traffic is now predominantly performed on mobile. No more pinch-and-zoom for pesky non-responsive websites and a better User Experience (UX) for all.

It doesn't end there though, HTML5 provides better support for superior vector graphics and interactive online features such as drag and drop, file-sharing or even online video editing.

HTML5 and eLearning

Well, what has all this got to do with Learning and Development? We all know there’s more to the learning process than sitting at a PC and being quizzed for half an hour. Online learning is more effective with the flexibility of using multiple devices without compromising UX as learners engage with content more when they’re able to access it on a device they're comfortable with.

At Gomo we offer our customers all the benefits of HTML5 in their eLearning as standard as it’s all part of what makes a good content authoring tool.

Find out more! Check out our ebook, ‘12 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Authoring Tool’.

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