Adobe Flash End of Life & the Threat to Education

End of Flash in the Classroom

What does the Adobe Flash end of life mean for educators? For over 25 years, Adobe has been one of the largest and most diversified software companies in the world. Many of their technologies are in our school computers, software programs, and internet applications we use every day. If a teacher has ever done any photo editing, stream a video online, or played an internet game in the classroom, they have used Adobe. Shortly after being first released in 1996, the Adobe rock star, Adobe Flash Player, made its way into 98% of all Internet-connected desktops around the world. So why is this star falling at the end of 2020?

A short history of Flash

The internet and the Flash Player are closely linked. As one popularity grew so did the other. In our whitepaper: Modern Educational Insights: The End Of Flash – EdTech And E-learning Users Beware we explored the beginning, rise, and ultimate end of Flash. We also explained how the end of life of Flash will affect EdTech, EdTech professionals, and educators.

The beginning of the end started in 2017, Adobe fixed a date to retire one of the most used software in internet history. Adobe announced it plans to no longer support Flash Player starting on December 31, 2020. In the years since all content developers that utilized the once ubiquitous software have been preparing for the change. Users of the products built on Flash, on the other hand, may not be as ready. Anyone using older computer programs, especially in education, will face content, games, videos, and programs that will no longer be supported by upgrades, security patches, and bug fixes.

When & where did things start to go wrong with Flash

At one time almost every browser from Explorer, Firefox to Chrome, all had Flash extensions because everything was being built around Flash. Countless software and computer applications used Flash. This together meant virtually all computers had a Flash Player at one point, but not all good things last forever. Flash peaked around 2005 when other programming platforms starting to gain tractions including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These newer and fresher platforms started eating away the Flash stronghold. They offered:

1. No need to download a plug-in
2. No proprietary software needed to create content
3. Less online attacks
4. And lastly, the tech giant, Apple had it in for Flash

Read the whole story about the role Steve Jobs played in the downfall of Flash here.

Eventually, the tech world moved on, all the big players including Google, Microsoft, Apple all shifted away before Adobe made the big announcement in 2017.

What will happen after Flash Ends

In the end, for those who have not converted away from this legacy software will be facing products using Adobe Flash with:

1. No bugs being fixed
2. No updates for operating systems and browsers
3. No new security patches
4. No more support
5. No new features or capabilities

What comes after Adobe Flash

So will many of our computer programs still work in the future? The answer is, yes. Almost all the big tech players took the best aspects of Flash and moved to standards that are more modern. This created the next generation of videos, animation, games, and sites with better:

1. Performance
2. Battery life
3. Security
4. No plug-ins

However, like any big star, Flash will not just fade away nicely into the darkness without a few last sparks and bangs. There will be places especially in education where things do not move as fast as the adoption of new technologies in personal and business computing.

How to avoid the flash trap

The unknowing educator Flash trap

The National Center for Educational Statistics shows only about 3% of schools in 1994 had internet access in their classroom. The adoption of the internet slowly grew until 2002 where finally over 90% of public school had access to the internet. With this adoption of the internet also grew the use of Education Technology (EdTech) in the classroom allowing teachers to create and share rich, interactive content, such as animations, interactive lessons, simulations, and games (most built using Flash). Whiteboards and overhead projectors were replaced by digital whiteboards and powerful projectors. Teachers started to have their own classroom personal computers, which was followed by even more advanced laptops and tablets. With all this EdTech came a wave of software and courseware made for teachers to use technology to improve their lessons plans.

HOWEVER, EdTech adoption and advances does not mean everything has been upgraded as teachers moved from one technology to another. EdTech takes time to penetrate and even longer to change. Many of the older technologies in display, computing, and internet applications created their content using Flash. Every time even today, if these older programs are used, Flash is still running silently in the background. Many teachers would not be able to tell if their computer programs are running on Flash because it was once so ubiquitous. For those school’s using past generations of interactive displays and non-web based software will face the most risk. Around 50% of native applications that allow content creation within the interactive displays utilizes Flash still. So do 60% of legacy non-web-based lesson plans.

What will be affected with the end of flash

How to avoid the Flash landmine in your classroom?

As a dedicated education solution provider, at ViewSonic, and our expert team can assist you in the transition away from Flash, and introduce you to applicable solutions that will benefit you and your students. In our full whitepaper The End Of Flash – EdTech And E-learning Users Beware, we give a full report on how to prepare for the end of Flash, and guidelines on building your own strategy to migrate to future-proof technologies. Get your free download today.


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