Tablets: Challenges and Solutions for mLearning

Here is a quick summary of an article that I recently  read by Judy Unrein : Learning Solutions Magazine

The Problem

Most of the top raid e-learning tools output .swf Flash files, including Adobe Captivate and Articulate, the primary exception being Lectora. As long as you run the Flash player plug in on your desktop, both Windows and Mac’s OS will play any of these .swf courses. The problem is in the increase of  use of mobile devices, including the most popular i-pad that will not play Adobe files.

The Possible Solutions

Work around the i-pad

Remote desktop

I thought Tom Kuhlmann’s solution in  I’ll take my e-learning to go, of using a remote desktop connection like Citrix, Plug me in or Puffin to connect to the desktop’s Flash capabilities seemed like a sensible solution, however I know some organizations (including my own) do not allow this.

Use a different tablet

Android powered tablets have a lot of catching up to do but many will play Flash. Have a look at CNET’s current and upcoming tablet comparisons.


Build for i-pads using Power Point, Lectora, HTML 5

Power Point

If you take your Power Point slides and save as .pdfs’ you can maintain some of the interactivity such as hyperlinks though you would loose any of the Engage, Quizmaker or SCORM features of a published Articulate course. You could also consider recording a power point presentation using any screen capturing software and produce a compatible (non .flv) video output.


A rapid e-learning tool that doesn’t generate a Flash file. I’ve only used the product sparingly but in my experience, the advantage of a non .flv output,  is offset by the  weak user group and support community that Articulate and Adobe have built around their products.


Almost all mobile devices on the market today have browsers that already support much of HTML5. HTML5 provides  rich user experience primarily through the use of the new <canvas> and <SVG> elements, which can be placed in the HTML code much like the <image> tag has been used for decades. It’s a good choice for mobile devices because rendering HTML5 code is generally not very processor-intensive compared to alternatives we’ve seen so far, and as mobile device manufacturers push the envelope to accommodate user demand for increased speed and multitasking, it just seems smarter to develop content using technology that demands less bandwidth and processing power. And with HTML5, mobile devices’ short product cycles become a good thing instead of a liability, as new devices generally mean new and more updated browsers.


Wait for Adobe and Articulate to output to HTML5

Currently, there are several smartphones or mobile devices that run Flash formats, because Flash Mobile – the version of Flash Player that Adobe is working on for mobile devices – has been delayed several times. Recent demonstrations meant to show how close Flash Mobile is to market have been somewhat lacking, though there are other demos that show it working just fine. Here is Adobe’s list of Flash mobile ready devices.

Adobe has already demonstrated HTML5-output tools for both programs, and while those features didn’t end up shipping with CS5, the company has now announced an upgrade pack for Dreamweaver that will allow for HTML5 output. And while neither Dreamweaver nor Flash is a specialized learning development tool, Captivate certainly is, and if Flash can be adapted to output to <canvas>, Captivate can too… if Adobe wants it to.