Introducing You to Keeping Safe

 

Every once in a while an eLearning project comes along that stops you in your tracks. It’s the kind of project that just gets to you. This happened to our instructional and design team about 6 months ago.

As well as being educationalists, designers, technologists, gurus, strategists or what job title you go by, we are all humans. We all have another role. We are also a mummy, daddy, sister, brother, auntie, uncle, cousin, grandparent, grandchild and of course a friend.

We knew from the very start that this wasn’t going to be a standard eLearning project. Rather than the dreaded January blues that a new year can bring, there was this incredible buzz in the office. Of course we LOVE all our eLearning projects, but this one was extra special. It was special because it affected each and every one of us. It’s was the stuff of design dreams. We were given an incredible opportunity to design and develop a project that would ACTUALLY changes lives.

Let me introduce you to this ground breaking project, Keeping Safe.NSPCC Keeping Safe eLearning Resource

Research carried out with 1,700 7-11-year-old children in Primary schools throughout Northern Ireland by NSPCC, highlighted that there are still gaps in children’s knowledge around what abuse is and who can pose a threat to them.

NSPCC NI decided to do something about that. It’s what they do, prevention. Effective early education can help children to disclose abuse earlier and get the help they need to recover sooner.

NSPCC NI commissioned Aurion Learning to create an engaging, accessible, age-appropriate and educationally sound suite of learning resources that would teach primary school children about keeping safe from abuse.

Working in collaboration with the educational team at NSPCC NI, we produced a fresh, exciting and interactive programme that applied a sensitive approach to this difficult area of education.

NSPCC Keeping Safe Home PageThe materials have been developed around three themes:

  1. Healthy Relationships
  2. My Body
  3. Being Safe

The programme includes:

  • Four interactive eLearning modules on a range of topics including bullying and abuse, including sexual and domestic abuse, incorporating best practice instructional techniques and focuses on a high illustrative approach. Each module contains a range of interactive features and includes knowledge checks, clickable diagrams, drag and drop activities, ranking/rating activities, sliders, vignettes, scenarios, and digital stories templates.Sample of interactivity from P3 lesson
  • Video clips of head to camera interviews and school footage for teachers, such as examples of good practice.
  • Classroom resources including; case studies, teaching aids and interactive animated interactions. To support the delivery of the programme, we designed four characters with two age variations, called Amy, Ziggy, Jack and Cara that reflect NSPCC brand guidelines.
  • Characters of Keeping Safe ResourceAssembly and age appropriate lesson plans that will be delivered three per term to each year group. Printable lesson plans and PowerPoint templates reuses iconography, photography and illustrations to ensure a consistent look and feel throughout the 12 assembly presentations.
  • Parent homework resources. We also weaved the technique of storytelling within the programme to reinforce the messages being taught and strengthen the learning impact of the resources. The resources have been purposely designed to be suitable for each primary year, helping to build knowledge and skills.

The initiative was commissioned by the Department of Education. Keeping Safe will be piloted across a select number of schools in Northern Ireland to assist teachers, support staff, parents and school children. It aims to finally reach every primary school pupil in Northern Ireland and hopes to save every child in Northern Ireland from abuse, neglect and bullying.

This initiative implemented by NSPCC NI is the first of its kind in Europe is a great step in educating our kids about the abuse.It has been an absolute privilege to lend our expertise to this eLearning programme and we hope that it achieves its aim of reaching every school child and to save children from abuse, neglect and bullying here in Northern Ireland and further afield.

Placement students share their experience of Aurion

Aquinas placement students

Aqcuinas A Level Students Conor Loughran and Matthew Smith getting the low-down on web development and motion graphics from Christopher McAuley, Graphic Designer at Aurion Learning 

As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitment to create opportunities for young people to learn new skills and prepare them for a career in the chosen field, we take students on both short and long term work-based learning placements each year

Over the past few weeks, we’ve provided local A level students from Aquinas Grammar School and The Royal Belfast Academical Institution with an insight into web development and graphic design.

These week long placements are very much a ‘hands-on’ approach, each student is paired with an experienced member of our team and is mentored and coached on developing new skills and teaching the students some tricks of the trade.

Aquinas students, Matthew Smith and Conor Loughran were able to put their newly acquired skills into action and recorded an account their experience with Aurion. Take a look:

Having provided full-time permanent employment to our previous placement students and our former collaboration with Business in the Community’s Charter Work Inspiration, we know that students benefit greatly from these opportunities. Students not only gain experience and a greater understanding of the work place and learn how important it is to master the various skills required to carry out a job function, these placement opportunities also help reduce barriers to employment.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll once again team up with Queens University Belfast to offer yearlong work-based placements for undergraduates, details on how to apply will be announced soon.

We’d like to wish all our placement studies the very best of luck with the rest of their studies and A Level exams.

E-Learning Motivation Made Easy: How To Keep Learners Engaged

E-Learning Motivation Made Easy: How To Keep Learners Engaged

We think E-Learning is great. It’s cost-effective, time-efficient and ideal for delivering standardised training to huge groups of learners spanning even greater geographical areas. However, it does not come without its challenges. One of the key issues with E-Learning lies in its struggle to retain, engage and motivate learners. Today, we’ll tackle the topic of motivation, giving you sound advice and simple ideas to help you excite and motivate learners.

At some point in our education, we’ve all sat in a classroom or lecture hall, tuned out the voice of our teacher and let our thoughts drift off to other things. Many traditional classroom trainers find it difficult to recognise when students are there in person but not in mind. Often it is not until assessments are introduced that they discover whether learning has occurred or whether all of the knowledge they have so painstakingly put together and delivered has went in one ear and out the other.

With online learning, however, the difference is often much clearer. Learners who are not engaged or enthusiastic can be recognised easily because they simply close their browser and fail to complete their learning. A key worry faced by many E-Learning practitioners is whether or not E-Learners will be motivated enough to complete their programmes and have a greater understanding at the end.

Luckily for us, we are not the first people to face the challenge of E-Learner motivation. Today we’ll explore some tried and tested techniques for learner motivation and give you some advice to help you avoid common pitfalls. The ARCS model of Motivational Design by John Keller is a useful starting point for the basics of motivational theory in learning and can be applied to E-Learning. The model outlines four ways of motivating learners; Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. We’ll cover each element in more detail now:

Attention: In order to motivate learners, it is important firstly to gain their attention. Keller proposes two main ideas for achieving this; through perceptual arousal or inquiry arousal. In other words, attracting learners’ attention by doing something out of the ordinary or else by appealing to their inquisitive nature.

Relevance: If learners are to deem content worthy of their attention and the application of their motivation, then the learning must be grounded in real life applicability. This can be achieved by giving examples of the learning’s relevance or even by profiling individuals who have already used the learning for their own betterment.

Confidence: By instilling a sense of achievability and by ensuring learners are aware that the work they put into learning will reap merit, it will give them reason to fully apply themselves. It’s important to map out the learning journey they are about to set out on, give guidance on how much work will be involved and directly link this to potential success.

Satisfaction: Each of us needs to feel like the efforts we are making are worthwhile if we are to continue to replicate them. If you are able to develop a meaningful rewards system for your learners, it will reinforce the relevance of their learning and recognise that their hard work has paid off, thus creating motivation for further learning.

Keller’s theory is easy to understand and for many L&D practitioners components of it may seem fairly obvious. However, often in practice many people deviate from these principles in favour of more superficial or gimmick-filled learning solutions. It is important both when planning your next E-Learning programme and also when assessing its success to consider whether it meets Keller’s four principles of motivation.

How can you avoid gimmicks and inspire real motivation?

In pursuit of the latest trend, it can be easy to get carried away and forget about the simple and effective ways of motivating learners. By adopting a range of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational techniques, you can expect to see more leaners completing your courses and applying the learning within your organisation. We’ve identified three areas where you should be particularly cautious:

1. Gamification

Like many others in the industry, we’re excited about the rise of gamification in E-Learning. In our blog about the gamification of E-Learning in 2015, we predicted that it is to become more practical, more integrated, more fun and more common. Because of the hype created around gamification, however, many have raced to embrace it without fully understanding how to utilise it in a learning context. When we adopt superficial games with low relevance to learning content, we distract from learning instead of encouraging it. Our advice is to carefully consider how you can use game mechanics and gaming narratives to motivate your learners.

 

2. Badges and Reward Systems

A potentially useful way of motivating learners is through awarding badges or by developing a rewards system. It can serve as a form of intrinsic motivation by appealing to the learner’s sense of achievement and is useful as a type of extrinsic motivation because it can give the learner status amongst their peers or qualify them for a reward or promotion. The counterfeit cousin of a good reward system is one which recognises trivial achievements with meaningless rewards. In order to use badges and reward systems to truly motivate learners, it is essential that the achievements are tangible and worthy of recognition and that the rewards are meaningful and roughly equivalent to the amount of work the learner has put in.

 

3. Graphics

The rapid advances within graphic design and constantly growing industry of web-design means that people are increasingly used to highly-stylised web-content with high-quality images and beautifully presented content. This is exciting because it means that we can produce digital learning that is easy on the eye and attention-grabbing. However, in order to maintain learners’ engagement and motivation, ensure that the instructional designer holds the reins in decisions about layout and that content design is not decided by graphic designers. The work of graphic designers should complement the aims of the instructional designer. For more advice on using graphics in E-Learning, download our recent infographic, The Six Golden Rules for Using Graphics in E-Learning.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

The Six Golden Rules for Using Graphics in E-Learning

We are all forced daily to trundle through reams of written content to get to the information we want. We have learned to quickly scan text, pick out the points of interest and ignore the rest. Today we’ll tell you how you can use graphics to highlight which information is most important for your learners and to help them to memorise it.

Why are graphics so great?

Graphics are amazing because they can easily summarise huge amounts of written information in a small space, not to mention in a memorable and aesthetically pleasing way! The rise of the infographic and the popularity of memes are just small indicators of the potential in graphics to capture learners’ attention and act as a platform for our bright ideas and learning materials.

It would be a shame for the instructional designer to put together killer learning content, for the web development team to create a robust and multi-functional platform to deliver the content on and then to fail to think through how the content will appear to users visually. Without great UX design and appealing graphics, learners will simply switch off. So we’ve created six golden rules for using graphics in E-Learning:

Six Golden Rules for Using Graphics in E-Learning

This infographic is available to download here.

1)    Graphics should simplify learning content, not complicate it.

2)    Choose graphics that will be memorable and make learning content memorable.

3)    Consistency in style is key to creating beautifully designed E-Learning.

4)    If graphics aren’t self-explanatory, be sure to include a caption or explanation.

5)    Avoid including graphics just for the sake of it – they should add to the learning, not distract from it.

6)    Always use high quality graphics.

 

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

 

What are authoring tools and which one is right for me?

Image containing title of the blog and a person using an authoring tool

Authoring tools are software applications used to create E-Learning programmes and content. There is a massive selection of authoring tools available on the E-Learning market and we aim to highlight some of our favourite products and outline considerations you should take into account when deciding which authoring tool is right for your E-Learning needs.

There are many types of authoring tools available:

Nine logos for various authoring tools. Including Articulate tools, Composica, gomo, Snap! and more.

 

These can be divided into three main groups of authoring tools:

1. Standalone tools

Watch our short video: The Pros and Cons of Storyline

Tools that do not require any other software to be installed.

 

2. PowerPoint based plug-ins

Watch our short video: The Pros and Cons of Snap!

Tools which extend the functionality of PowerPoint.

 

3. Online tools

Watch our short video: The Pros and Cons of Composica

Web-browser based tools, platform independent.

 

A good authoring tool allows E-Learning creators to use rich media; audio, flash animations, videos and games and to build interactions around the rich media.

Generally content created by authoring tools can be published for use on websites, CDs or Learning Management Systems for consumption by your learners at a time and place that suits them best.

At our recent masterclass series, we gave an overview of the benefits of building internal capability by developing your own E-Learning using authoring tools. You can view and download the presentation here. We’ll also have the recoding of this presentation online soon. During this session, Gavin Woods, our Business Development Manager gave an overview of:

An overview of Articulate Studio. Why? +Based on familiar tools (PowerPoint), + Easy to use, + Good for beginners. Why not? - Some limits on functionality, - Plug-in architecture creates some issues.

 

An Overview of Articulate Storyline: Why? + Most powerful authoring environment, + Unlimited authoring capability, + Work remotely (desktop based). Why not? -Steeper learning curve, - Needs some training, - Appropriate licensing can be an issue.

 

An Overview of Adobe Captivate: Why? + Broad range of features, + Part of a wider Adobe E-Learning Suite, + You may have a license already. Why not? - Not as user friendly, - Weaker set of interactions, - Some minor issues with uploading images.

 

Overview of Camtasia. Used for: Screencasting, Talk to cam, Slides plus video, Slides plus voice over.

In a non-rapid environment (think E-Learning companies developing in Flash) there are at least three people in the development team plus the subject matter expert (SME) and the client. In a rapid environment, there is normally just the DIY E-Learning developer along with the SME. It is very often the case though the DIY E-Learning developer is also the SME, Instructional Designer and client all rolled into one. It’s lovely up to a point…but is also feels pretty lonely. As time and resources are often limited, it’s imperative that you are selecting the right authoring tool.

What factors are important when choosing an authoring tool?

  • Multi-device publishing;
  • The ability to incorporate rich media;
  • The ease of creation of interactivity;
  • Cost;
  • Compatibility; and
  • Skill level in-house.

It’s important to select an authoring tool that allows you to create engaging, aesthetically pleasing and interactive E-Learning content without requiring the technical know-how of a computer genius.

At Aurion, depending on our client’s specific E-Learning project requirements, we select the right authoring tool that best fits the brief. Articulate Storyline has the most powerful authoring environment and now that Articulate have launched a new, improved version; Articulate Storyline 2, it’s worth taking a closer look at this formidable tool.

Our team of E-Learning designers love the features of Articulate Storyline 1 because it is effortless to use, has a strong tracking and reporting functionality, simple integration of interactivity and rich media and content means that it is immediately publishable across a wide range of devices.

So what’s different about Storyline 2?

Whilst maintaining a similar look and feel, Storyline 2 offers the same functionality as Storyline 1 and more. On a practical note, the introduction of auto recovery means that you needn’t worry that you’ll lose any of your hard work if you experience technical difficulties with your device. The new dockable panel functionality enables you to work effectively across multiple screens and the fact it is no longer necessary to compress videos ensures that you can maintain high quality graphics and animations.

Both appearance and interactivity in Storyline 2 are better than ever before with the new motion paths, animation painter and a range of new transitions and animations. Our favourite new feature is the slider interactions which allow learners to play around with data and discover causal relationships in a highly visual and interactive format.

Storyline 2 allows you to both import questions and attribute negative scores, thus allowing you to change how tests are created and assessed.

If we’ve managed to tempt you to give Storyline 2 a go, you can try it out for free here.

Although we’re big fans of Articulate Storyline and have used it as a solution for a wide range of E-Learning needs, we know that there is no one size fits all in digital learning. For more advice on choosing the right authoring tool for you, we recommend watching our webinar: Choosing the Right Tools to Create Your Own E-Learning.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

 

Best Practice UX Design for E-Learning

UX Design for E-Learning

By incorporating best practice UX design into your E-Learning, you can maximise information retention, learner engagement and learner enjoyment.

UX design specialists tend to know how people use technology but not necessarily how people learn. There are elements of UX design we’ll cover in this blog that are universal and some that apply specifically to E-Learning.

Why is UX design important?

Because of the clever way Apple’s user interfaces are designed, even a toddler who can’t yet read can pick up an iPad, find the game they want to play or take a photo. Apple do things in a way that just makes sense. From the way things are packed and unfold to how their products and software are designed, they create products which simplify processes for the end user and have their enjoyment in mind. That’s why they had a revenue of over 170 billion dollars in 2013. User experience matters.

We all want to create an E-Learning experience that is seamless and intuitive.

By applying our UX design for E-Learning tips, you can simplify processes and delight learners. They won’t have to ask questions about navigation and will be able to do what they want to do, when they want to do it.

To illustrate the importance of UX design in E-Learning, we will use the example of the Sensory Engagement Programme which we developed in partnership with four of the largest support and advocacy organisations for people with sight and hearing loss across the whole of Ireland. The resource aims to raise awareness among service providers of what it is like to be blind, partially sighted, deaf or hard of hearing and using every day services.

As the best designed user experiences are usually the easiest, it was imperative that the user experience on this project was as seamless as possible.

How do people read online?

The introductory page to the Sensory Engagement Programme.

The introductory page to the Sensory Engagement Programme.

  • Researchers from the Nielsen Norman Group undertook research tracking the eye movements of over 300 website users and discovered that people tend to read webpages in an F shape. The findings make an interesting read and the full report is available to download here.
  • In the above image, you can see the welcome page from the Sensory Engagement Programme. As you can see, we have taken the knowledge that online learners read in an F shape into consideration when laying out our content. This means that users are more likely to read the content and will understand what to expect from the rest of the E-Learning resource.
  • The commoditisation of written content in the digital age means that readers scan and spend less time reading than ever before. This means that content needs to make sense immediately, without further explanation. Clear headings, bullet points and concise, meaningful content will ensure that learners will read what you have to say.

UX Design and Flow

An example page from the Sensory Engagement Programme.

An example page from the Sensory Engagement Programme.

Have you considered what happens when learners don’t have a flow or pattern to follow? They simply stop reading.

When designing an E-Learning webpage, the following components are essential for a user interface that simplifies the learning process:

1)    A flow

2)    A call to action

3)    Very little text or else very scannable text

4)    Images that contribute to the information being presented

As you can see from this screenshot of the Sensory Engagement Programme mentioned earlier, we were able to create a flow by minimising the written content on the page and placing a focus on the video. By making the video and the call to action to watch it so prominent, it ensures that learners will prioritise this. The second most prominent flow happening on the page is the flow across the four tabs at the top which allow users to navigate their way through the E-Learning resource.

What happens when it all goes wrong?

As the folks at Icon Finder said, “A User Interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.”

Great UX design is not an additional bonus for an E-Learning programme. Without it, learners will get lost, frustrated, distracted and switch off.

When beginning to develop an E-Learning resource, we suggest sitting around a table with the web developers, designers and instructional designers involved. It’s important for everyone to understand what makes up the key learning content, the layout of content and plan how together you will be able to create an intuitive learner experience.

By incorporating wireframes and storyboarding into your development process and taking UX design into consideration, you can ensure from the get-go that the end user of your E-Learning programme has an experience that will achieve desired learning outcomes and keep them coming back for more.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

Effective User Interface Design for Mobile Learning

by Noleen Turner

Sample mobile learning user interface developed by AurionWith the explosion of mobile learning many of us are now in the position of creating brand new mobile e-learning programmes or transforming existing e-learning content to mobile.

*A friendly word of warning to those involved in ‘conversion’ projects – mobile is different to traditional web – and your mobile learning programme won’t work if it’s just a regurgitated experience. Mobile learning is micro-learning, designed for short bursts of activity – your learners are likely to access it while on the job, performing a task, or in between other activities. And learners need to be able to access it via a range of mobile learning technologies which are likely to include smartphones and tablets.

But I digress…and to get back to the original point how do you design an effective user interface for mobile learning? And how do you manage navigation, usability, and aesthetics ensuring that the transition between screens feels natural and that users know where they are at all times during the programme?

LearningSolutions Magazine recently published an article entitled “From e-learning to ipad – how to adjust the user interface”. In the article they consider how the user interface design contributes to
the success of a learning mobile app – one in which the user interface enhances and eases the learning process.

According to LearningSolutions, the layout you build for your mobile learning app must enable users to answer these five questions:

  • Where am I?
  • How did I get here?
  • How can I return to where I once was? 
  • How far have I gone?
  • Where else can I go?

In response to these questions I’ve tried to come up with my own tips for optimising the mobile learning interface:

  How to improve the experience
Where am I?
  • Don’t overload functionality, features or content – just focus on what is necessary to get the job done.
  • Simple functionality will enable you to create a straightforward and easy to follow user interface.
  • Structure information so it can be easily accessed – learners expect to get the information they need with just a few taps.
  • Group similar topics together. The Learning Coach has a useful blog post on visual grouping.
  • Keep the screen uncluttered and use clear screen titles so learners won’t misinterpret visual cues.
  • Emphasise menu items already clicked (change colour or attach bookmarks).
  • Design for a low error rate – remember that selection errors on mobile phones are higher than desktops so surround selection areas with white space so that a learner can easily tap them and invoke the correct action.
How did I get here?
  • Create a visual trail as learners move through the content. For example, highlight a section already clicked on or use a “breadcrumb trail” so learners can track their progress through the programme.
How can I return to where I once was? 
  • Use navigation buttons to allow movement between learning units.
  • Ensure some navigation menus are visible throughout the entire course.
  • Provide Back buttons or Menu buttons to return to a map of choices.
How far have I gone?
  • Include a screen ID such as “Screen 2 of 24” to inform users of how far they have progressed through a lesson and how much there is left to do.
  • Use the word “screen” rather than “page”.
  • Group similar content and create intense learning nuggets rather that one long course – nobody wants to see “Screen 3 of 60”.
Where else can I go?
  • Use clearly labelled navigation buttons to help learners orient themselves.
  • Make sure navigation buttons are easy to find.
  • Stick to simple touch tap or swipe commands to manage navigation between screens (for now). Don’t assume that everyone knows how to use all the interface features of their smartphone / tablet – e.g. pinch open gesture to magnify text.  According to Josh Clark, author of Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps, most people don’t know about the more obscure gestures that work on some mobile phones.

And finally…don’t forget to test your user interface
Once you design an interface, make sure you test it with a sample group of learners, checking how long it takes to complete the learning, how easily they can navigate the learning, how many navigational errors they make etc.

Useful resources for designing mobile learning
iOS Human Interface Guidelines
http://thatcoolguy.github.com/gridless-boilerplate/  guidelines on HTML5 & CSS3 topics
W3C
10 Tips For Designing mLearning And Support Apps
From e-learning to ipad – how to adjust the user interface
Ten things to think about when designing your iPad App

M-Learning & The Evolution of HTML

by Lee Reilly, Senior Web Designer

HTML5 logo

My first real foray into the realm of coding over a decade ago pertained to making a text box on my page a solid colour, positioning it to the right and making the text white. After much musing (by which I mean searching around the internet) I fumbled a solution and had inadvertently coded something! In this case it was a <div> container to hold my text, which was aligned right and coloured accordingly. The beginnings of my first HTML site, though perhaps not as grand as I might have liked.

Over the years my HTML and CSS skills have improved, as has my understanding of the underlying processes involved. With the upcoming publication of the highly anticipated HTML 5 specification I find myself feeling like I did over a decade ago; is the difference between HTML 4 and 5 so great that I must start creating little text boxes on a page again in order to understand this new version?

The answer, mercifully, is no. HTML 5, in its simplest form, is a revised version of HTML 4. Sure, it has the ability to be so much more, but it does not have to be. I could take the latest project I am working on, amend line 1 to <!DOCTYPE html> and I would have an HTML 5 project. I would obviously not do that as it would be cheating and not advisable for compatibility of content within that project.

The real power of HTML5
The real power of HTML 5 (and CSS 3) comes from the improvements within. HTML 5 is created to improve the interoperability of HTML based documents. This means it is designed to work across multiple platforms and software setups. Numerous elements have been added such as <article>, <header>, <footer> and <section> to make the lives of developers easier. If nothing else these new elements reduce the quantity of <div> elements required for layout. These and other elements have been created to help add meaning to the content within. An example of this would be creating a news article:

In HTML 4 I might create something like:

<div class=”newsarticle”>
<h2>Why am I making this site in HTML4?!</h2>
<p class=”newsdate”>09-12-11</p>
</div>

In HTML 5 this could be created as:

<article>
<h2>HTML 5: That’s the ticket!</h2>
<date>09-12-11</date>
</article>

The benefits to creating this in HTML 5 are two-fold. First, there is less coding involved. Second, and more importantly, the elements used are created for the purposes illustrated; <article> is used for independent, self-contained content and <date> is used for defining dates and times. The freedom that HTML 5 allows in creating element names might at first make it appear to be less structured and potentially more prone to variation between developers. What this flexibility does, when combined with new elements and attributes, is allow for greater control of structure.

Can it make a difference?
Everything mentioned above give HTML 5 the potential to improve the way websites and web apps are built. The real power of  HTML 5, however, comes from its integrated Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs. They have been designed to make developing web apps easier across multiple platforms. These include new APIs for audio and video, which will act to provide a uniform (and non-flash based) approach to getting rich media easily on to the web. Great in theory but these are still a long way off being perfect. In its current incarnation, HTML 5 has no full cross-browser support for video file formats. This means if you were to use the <video> element in a project today you would need to encode your video as both mp4 and ogg file formats to ensure all modern browsers would play them; a large overhead to say the least.

M-Learning
When evaluating how good HTML 5 is we must consider that it is still only a draft specification and elements and attributes are still subject to change. That said, it has the potential to deliver on numerous fronts and the thought of a fully interoperable web app or website across numerous platforms, complete with rich media and animation without the need for user-installed plugins makes its success all the more appealing. So much so that we have already begun project work using HTML 5. These E-learning projects have been designed to work cross-platform, from the traditional desktop E-learning to tablets and smartphones (so called M-learning or mobile learning). The benefit of using HTML 5 as the backbone is that the same pages are served up to each platform, the only difference being how they are styled. This technique of catering for different platforms using the same pages is called responsive design.

In future blog posts we will look at responsive design as well as the hugely anticipated <canvas> element in HTML 5 and its potential for usurping flash for cross-platform animation. We will also look at what new features CSS 3 brings to the party.