The Business of Learning - learning ecosystems

As we learned recently, Adobe has decided to stop releasing the new Flash Player for mobile devices after version 11. With so much eLearning courseware developed using Flash-based technologies, this announcement has naturally caused some turbulence in the learning community and raised some concerns about the future of online learning technologies. I had a good conversation with one of Fredcomm’s best Flash developers last week about the future of development tools and trends for both mLearning and eLearning. Here is a summary that I’d like to share with you:

  • We believe a large majority of eLearning users in the near-term will still access courses using a desktop or laptop computer, instead of tablets or smart phones.
  • While there will be no new releases of the Flash Player for mobile devices, the existing versions will still be around and will continue to function.
  • The desktop version of the Flash player will still be available and Adobe has announced no plans to discontinue it or to stop releasing new versions. Flash is so prevalent on the web that we just can’t see it going away in the next 3-5 years.
  • Many highly-interactive components for mobile devices are developed and delivered as apps, which are not, and will not be dependent on Flash.
  • Flash-based eLearning development will continue for the foreseeable future and Flash may still be a force in mLearning with the addition of the ability to publish courses for AIR or HTML5, which will be native to iOS (Apple’s mobile device operating system) or Android. Adobe AIR runtime enables developers to deploy standalone applications built with HTML, JavaScript, ActionScript, Flex, and Falsh across platforms and devices—including mobile devices.

While the announcement about the mobile Flash player got a lot of attention, we believe that many may be reading more into Adobe’s decision than is really warranted at this point. Adobe may be changing their direction as it relates to mobile devices, but this doesn’t mean the end of the web as we know it.

It is certainly time to start thinking and learning about technologies like HTML5, but announcement of the discontinuation of the Flash mobile player doesn’t mean that Flash is going the way of the dinosaurs.

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