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Google to kill Flash support. Is this the end for Flash e-learning

Google has announced it's killing support for Flash. What does this mean for your Flash-based e-learning?

Earlier this month Google announced that they would be altering the way they support Flash in Chrome, by delivering a new ‘HTML5 by default’ policy. This means that every website (barring a whitelisted ten which include YouTube) will use HTML5 as the default, and only use Flash when there are no alternative options.

Faster internet browsing and better user experience are Google’s goals.

But these changes don’t just impact Chrome; they naturally have an impact on the internet of things, which your e-learning inevitably falls into. But does this mean Google is destroying your ability to deliver Flash-based e-learning well?

Maybe. A blockage of Flash in Chrome could have a major impact on the way you deliver e-learning, particularly if much of your e-learning is still sitting in Flash. These actions by Google are a clear indicator of the way things are evolving in technology, with continued wider emphasis on mobile support and user experience. Support for Flash will be phased out by the end of 2016, with Flash then being disabled by default.

This follows many other browser makers already ending support for Flash.

So what’s Google got against Flash and why do you need to know about it?

Moving to more mobile support

And with many mobile devices not supporting Flash without a manual install, it’s no surprise Google is trying to get rid of it. For them, it’s just not conducive to the high-quality user experience they’re aiming for.

This continued push from Google to eliminate Flash from their browser has been on the cards for several years as they continue to prioritise the mobile browser. Last year, searches on mobile exceeded those on desktop in ten countries including the US and Japan, meaning mobile is now the dominant device with the majority of their users.

More L&D departments are driving engagement with learning by accepting and adopting the changes in device usage within their training. You also need to evolve your strategy to reflect the way learners are learning outside of the workplace – and I believe this is becoming critical. But this announced shift from Google may require more than the adoption of multi-device learning; it may mean a complete movement away from Flash. Which is a pretty big deal.

Flash under siege for security lapses

Unfortunately, Flash has had its fair share of security issues and vulnerabilities over the years, with this year being particularly painful. As cited by the BBC, “Flash, which is used for multimedia content, has become very popular with cyberthieves who exploit bugs to compromise web users.”

It’s had a tough year, with vulnerabilities being exposed regularly; they’ve had to release three patches in as many months to deal with attacks. On the extreme side of the argument, some security firms are even calling to uninstall it altogether due to its issues. Obviously these get fixed quickly by Adobe, but it doesn’t negate the fact that they’re still happening. And it appears that Google isn’t willing to expose their users to that risk anymore.

Realistically, if security is a concern in your business it might start making sense to move away from this plugin, especially considering that Google, Firefox and Edge on Windows 10 do not fully support Flash.

Obviously there may be instances when, even in light of this information, Flash-based e-learning is perfectly fine for your needs. But what if it isn’t, what do you do?

HTML5 vs Flash e-learning – which is right for you?

The Flash vs HTML5 debate continues. You may have a lot of Flash-based e-learning that is still working for your organisation. It may still be achieving high pass rates or engaging learners, which is great. But the question you should be asking is, will it still be as successful in another year? How about three?

This conversation about whether to stay with Flash e-learning or get HTML5-based learning (whether you convert your content or create something new altogether) is ultimately a question of futureproofing. If you answer yes to any of these questions, it’s likely you’re going to require a shift to HTML5 learning at some point:

  • Do you want to support multi-device learning in your organisation?
  • Are you planning on supporting BYOD in coming L&D strategies?
  • Do you have remote staff that would benefit from just-in-time learning?
  • Are you concerned about the Flash’s security risks?
  • Is Google or Firefox your defined browser in your organisation?
  • Is your IT department planning a company upgrade to Windows 10 in the next two years?

The world of tech is moving quicker than L&D can keep up, so you need to decide which changes are the most critical in your organisation in both the short term and the long term.

However I think it’s safe the say the support for Flash will continue to diminish online, which may eventually force your decision about whether to make the move to more modern, adaptive e-learning.

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