eLearning is at a crossroad because of emerging technologies.
And it starts with the hardware, oddly enough. The push has come from both smartphones and tablets--led, of course, by the iPhone and iPad. Underneath these various mobile devices is one would-be constant: the WebKit browser standards. Theoretically, all of these touch devices should respond identically to a developer's programming.
That all sounds good, right? And it does work that way with Apple devices, because Apple controls both the hardware and the software (which has been a large part of their success in the past 5 to 10 years). And since something like 97% of web traffic from tablets comes from the iPad, design for tablets is still pretty simple.
Phones are different. As Android phones began to hit the market, Apple's share of smartphone web traffic fell to just 50% last year. Now, it's back up to 69%--a healthy jump! Just theorizing here, but one of the factors involved in this increase could be that there are now many flavors of WebKit "standards" in the Android market. Some devices can be upgraded to the latest operating platforms, and some can't. Some play one kind of video, while others demand a different version. That makes what's supposed to be easy for developers, very difficult. It can make the user experience frustrating, too.
Back To eLearning
The whole Flash vs. HTML5 thing wouldn't be an issue for elearning if we just stayed on the desktop. But mobile device sales are exploding and there's a huge benefit in liberating elearning from the desktop and taking it to where our learners are. Since mobile devices are going to have to survive without Flash, one of the main role of HTML5 is to re-create some of what Flash does, but using an open standard. That should be a good thing for everyone. But as I noted above, the standard has been fractured within the Android market.