... being concerned about using Flash is like worrying the photocopier wont print all your student worksheets...
There, I said it. Flash is antiquated, pointless, and, quite frankly, the exact opposite of innovation, especially in terms of education and educational technology.
A little history...
… Flash is the web-based format for media. Remember the Shockwave games of the late 90s? Those were Flash. Flash was animation, but it evolved into video as the technology developed. For a long time YouTube was exclusively Flash-based. In recent years they have also cross-encoded their videos in HTML5, the new, mobile friendly video format. The core issues with Flash:
- requires a downloaded plug-in, unsupported on iOS, the leading tablet in education
- requires more processing & battery power, since it’s an installed software application, which is a core reason Apple decided not to support it from the start of iOS
- with mobile battery life being so important it is prefered to have video run off the hardware/chip, as opposed to the software. H.264 is a video format that runs off the chip, thereby requiring less battery power
- Adobe is moving away from Flash and embracing HTML5
- “This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.”
- Flash has become more susceptible to malware
- HTML5 (and H.264 as a standard compression codec) is replacing Flash as a way to ensure compatibility & access to media across platforms, mobile & desktop alike
- Check out OccupyFlash for an infographic style play on the anti-Flash movement
Any time I see someone, particularly in education and specifically in educational technology, that laments the absence of Flash on mobile devices (iPad being the most obvious but even Adobe's support of Flash on Andorid is dying out) I wonder how they feel about printed worksheets...
... We are supposed to be on the cutting edge, finding ways to innovate and inspire. Those who choose technology platforms based on support of Flash make me feel like all this talk of "innovative education" is nothing but empty platitudes. In the three years I've been working with the iPad I think I've lamented the absence of Flash three times, maybe. I can't actually remember ever lamenting the absence of Flash on the iPad but to be fair I'd have to imagine there was a couple of times in the early days.
(admittedly, recently I lamented the inability of the iOS app Rover to run Museum of Me, a Flash based site, so that is one, outlying example. However, it is mostly irrelevant since the Museum of Me runs through Facebook login so that is blocked at school, but that is for another blog post...)
I know a lot of people are still using Flash and still using resources based in Flash. I feel that holding on to a technology like Flash, especially when the developer, Adobe, is phasing it out in favor of HTML5 (the mobile standard alternative to Flash) is like holding on to the notion the photocopier or overhead projector is key to education. If the photocopier can't print transparencies for the overhead does it matter? It shouldn't. Just like devices that can't run Flash shouldn't be an issue either. Educational technology and, frankly, technology in general, is becoming more and more mobile every day. In this “post-PC” world, mobile is where we are, and where we’re headed. A platform that isn’t accessible on your mobile device is a platform you shouldn’t use.
Flash is dead. It is not innovative. Find alternate, HTML5, resources. After all, it's not hard to imagine a time, fairly soon, that Flash won’t be supported on the latest desktop browsers either. Flash is behind the innovation curve, don't be stuck there with it...
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