I don’t know about you, although if you are a die-hard Windows user, maybe you’re not interested, but I can’t stop reading about the flap over Apple’s promotion of HTML5/H.264 over Adobe’s Flash. Follow the link for Steve Jobs’ post about it on the Apple site.
At first, I thought it was a stupid move, but now I see that I have been influenced by the Windows world to not notice what’s happening right under my nose. On all my Macs, way back to the first little all-in-one, I have used the Microsoft Office suite, as well as Internet Explorer (once there was a Web), until they stopped making one for Macs. You can just glide along thinking that everybody gets along, and then this flare-up happens. So, here’s the map I’ve been making in my head of the technology we depend on here at Tri-C and what it might mean if Apple (and others) start abandoning/ignoring Flash:
We commonly use Adobe Connect and Adobe Presenter across the campus, for both educational and professional purposes. We have a Connect server and use the technology for meeting students and/or committees. Connect is a popular standard for webinars and it requires Adobe Air to access your webcam and microphone. Adobe Presenter integrates with Microsoft PowerPoint (*only on Windows–keep that in mind) to allow you to create a pretty terrific package of slides, narration, video, and notes that students can access for review or for primary online course content. We publish these packages to the Connect server and they are streamed as Flash. Here’s an example, if you don’t mind hearing about poetry: http://breeze.tri-c.edu/p39237025/
I’ve often grumbled about Presenter not being available to the Mac version of PowerPoint, since Connect works there and you can play Presenter products on Macs–at least on its computers, at least now. And now we’re at the crux of the issue–what happens to us and our e-learning practices now that Apple’s two newest and ubiquitous products–iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad are striking out on their own without Flash? Probably you’ve seen that YouTube is testing an HTML5/H.264 version of itself (http://www.youtube.com/html5). I’m of the mind that where YouTube goes, the world will follow. More and more of our students are purchasing Mac products, but what would happen if they expect to view our Flash content and can’t? I’m sure there will be workarounds for a while, but eventually that’s going to end and we could be back in the old, drab world of Macs and PCs not playing together nicely (I thought it was a strained friendship, anyway). The questions for us will be about what other avenues for rich course content exist, whether we will be able to create it on any computer, and whether all our students will be able to access it easily. It’s a lot to think about, and now is not too soon to begin. I hope Adobe is asking these questions, too.