Rant: Technologically Inept Education Systems

Warning: may contain sweeping generalizations and other emotionally triggered arguments

I’ve been helping a client get a laptop set up for taking college classes. This client is not well-versed in the use of computers, and had difficulty getting things set up on their own.

My client is taking college classes online. They log into their school’s online classes portal, and see a list of lectures. When a lecture is clicked, an associated video with that lecture is shown. To watch a video lecture, you click “Play.”

“This video requires Silverlight, the rich content system ultra-galore. Click HERE to install Silverlight.”

No big deal, right? Just install silverlight and proceed?

Proprietary browser plugins should not be used in an academic environment. Using such plugins instantly create a barrier to entrance which isn’t something that students should have to worry about. I think this problem stems from idealism of university authorities that every piece of software requires training before it can be implemented, and student training is required before the software can be used. It’s a way of thinking by older generations brought up to believe that computers must be difficult to work with, and that way of thinking is obsolete!

Flash is deprecated now that HTML5 has canvas and a video tag. Silverlight is a clone of flash that never should have existed. Shockingly, both these technologies are still widely used in educational software.

On a majority of college campuses, you have two computing options: Windows, or MacOS. I see a huge problem with this; your operating system shouldn’t matter. We have HTML5 now, there’s no good reason for any OS to be excluded. (Sad fact: I took a Linux course and the course depended on Windows.)

The whole college system technology system is flawed; software is implemented to fit a specification, and a budget. You can have your cake and eat it too, colleges. Add “current standards” to your specifications. You owe it to your students to be a progressive educational entity, to look towards the future rather than fixating on the past.

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