Yesterday Trivantis published a post on its Everything eLearning Blog titled Did You Know Lectora is the ONLY Major HTML5 Authoring Tool?
. It’s the most recent of their posts on HTML5 and mlearning that, to the truth, I haven’t seen much of until today.
Some parts of the post had me scratching my head and checking for updates to make sure there weren’t new features in Lectora that I wasn’t aware of. Even more of it just muddies the waters on HTML5, mobile delivery, and mobile design… waters that really could use more clarity now, not more confusion.
Here are a few passages, with my comments.
Lectora leads the way for mobile learning capabilities as the only major e-Learning to HTML5 authoring tool on the market. Whether you plan to implement a mobile strategy on smartphones and tablets to provide job aids and performance support or want to deliver mobile access to all of your training materials, Lectora e-Learning software makes it easy.
As is fairly typical with anything written by elearning authoring tool vendors, this bit is the only nod given to performance support, which is a far more appropriate use of smartphones than teensy tiny courses. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I haven’t seen any resources from Trivantis on using Lectora for performance support. Their mobile templates, sized for the iPhone, are just resized website and course templates with too-small hit areas for buttons and links and lots of space wasted onscreen.
Tips and How-tos for Mobile Learning with Lectora
Create mLearning Content
– This recorded webinar will discuss the capabilities of Lectora for your mobile learning content, provide tips for sizing and content development as well as a few examples of mobile learning in action.
Again, promoting courses on mobile devices… not a terrible thing on tablets, but generally a bad thing on smartphones. And the mobile advantages that are listed at the end of the post aren’t even necessarily things that you can develop with Lectora — in particular, augmented reality.
Yes, you can totally build games from scratch using Lectora, but “from scratch”, in this case, shouldn’t invoke the warm and fuzzy connotation of eating your mom’s homemade biscuits. It means custom-building your own games because all of Lectora’s pre-built “games” are Flash-based. Truthfully, though, since I would never use Lectora’s pre-builts, it’s kind of a moot point for me.
Well… yes and no, and mostly no. The elearning authoring tool industry right now is pretty much a three-legged dog race in terms of HTML5 publishing, and Lectora is toward the front. As I wrote in the T+D article that Trivantis quotes under the above link, right now we have older tools that have always published to HTML (Lectora and ToolBook) and newer tools that publish to HTML5 more reliably, but aren’t as powerful (and therefore I have little interest in them). ToolBook takes advantage of some features that are new in HTML5, such as geolocation, but as I wrote in that same article, Trivantis hasn’t done much yet to take advantage of the new parts of the HTML5 specification. That is still the case.
So you may be wondering why Lectora is so often mentioned as an HTML5 development tool and why Trivants feels free to do so. Here’s my guess: HTML5 includes most of the elements of previous versions of HTML, so any tool that publishes to HTML can be claimed, at least partially, to publish to HTML5. But unless the tool is publishing features and elements that are HTML5-specific, such as geolocation, canvas, and audio and video tags, it’s a very misleading claim. When I write and speak about tools that publish to HTML, I’m very clear on those limitations.
Personally, I don’t care whether Lectora is the only “major” authoring tool that publishes to HTML. I don’t even care whether an authoring tool is supposed to be used for elearning. I just care whether the tool will serve my design and deliver in the format my audience needs on the devices they need to access it on. Things being as they are, I have to agree with Chad Udell about the current elearning tool market (as quoted by Cammy Bean at the recent ASTD Learn Now): “Anything that’s out there now, is not doing it well. If you want to build high quality mobile learning apps, you have to use dedicated mobile tooling.”
If you are using Lectora to create content that will be accessed on mobile devices, I highly recommend this post by Diane Elkins on the E-Learning Uncovered blog, which details which features in Lectora create content that works properly in iOS and which don’t… and I second her recommendation to test, test, test. Trivantis also links to Diane’s tests, reporting that 13 of the 17 features tested work, which they seem to think is a good thing. To me, 24% of features that don’t work is enough for me to get out of my comfort zone a bit and see what tools the wider web development world has to offer in terms of publishing to HTML5.
Shall we sum this up?
- Lectora is a good elearning development tool… one of my favorites, actually. But I would not describe it as a fully fledged HTML5 publishing tool, and in my opinion, it’s pretty brazen of them to do so.
- Publishing to HTML — or even HTML5 — is not the same thing as creating good mlearning.
- If you’re expecting your Lectora content to work on your learners’ iPads, you should check out the testing published on the E-Learning Uncovered blog and be ready to do lots of testing.
- If you’re creating mlearning, you need to think differently about design (and not just visual design), and for development, you’re best served by looking outside of the current elearning authoring tool set.
Agree? Disagree? Have I overlooked something? Feel free to let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
Update: When I posted this, I commented on one of Trivantis’s posts with a link to this post, and in a separate comment, linked to the full text of the T+D article I wrote that they quoted so liberally (and took such liberties with). The next morning, my comments were gone. It baffles me why any company or any blogger would choose to take this route, but I still invite them to address my (and other users’) concerns here, on their blog, or on Twitter.