Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Will the Ipad kill Flash?


When Apple first introduced the Ipad, few people could have imagined just how many would be sold and the Ipad 2 is selling far more than the original. Many schools (including ours) have started seeing the potential of the Ipad (and similar devices) in the classroom. The tablets, aside from being economical, are child-friendly with their touchscreen interface and generally have adequate computing power for classroom needs.

     One of my concerns about introducing the Ipad in elementary school classrooms is its lack of support for Adobe's Flash. Most child-friendly Internet sites run on Flash and can't be accessed on devices such as the Ipad. It seems that one of two things will need to happen; tablets like the Ipad will start supporting Flash or the sites will find alternatives to flash such as Html5. It is unlikely that the first option is going to happen with the Ipad given Apple's refusal to adopt the technology on the Ipad, IPhone or Ipod Touch. Millions of people are now using these devices, including educators, and the makers of educational content want their business. Will this mean the end of Flash? There are of course companies that do plan to support Flash on their devices but Apple is the dominant player in the education market with its variety of devices that work well together and an abundance of educational software and apps. It also appears that major video sites like YouTube  and Vimeo are starting to move away from flash and support Html5.

     Perhaps there is a third possibility which involves Adobe itself finding alternatives to Flash. Adobe has been on the defensive about this and appears to be getting ready for a future without Flash.  They may be able make it possible to view Flash based content on devices that do not support Flash.  Adobe has introduced a program called Wallaby which enables Flash to be converted to Html so that it can be viewed on devices such as the Ipad. 

     In my opinion, the Ipad will not be a Flash killer. Most sites will continue to support Flash and most access to these sites is still through devices which do support Flash. Adobe is already working towards finding ways to make it possible to view its content on devices like the Ipad which don't support Flash. I think that they will adapt to the reality that Apple doesn't support them and find ways to get their software to work with these devices. In the end, the important thing is that educators have access to the content they want and need regardless of the device. If educators decide that apps are not enough for the classroom and they need access to other resources that currently rely on Flash, then an alternative will be found one way or another. I hope that this is the case because there is a lot of amazing content available to educators which is currently not supported on devices like the Ipad.

Here is the link to the open letter that they were referring to.