IT Infrastructure & Management

Goodbye, Adobe Flash:
What Educators Need to Know

By Mark Lieberman — December 21, 2020 2 min read
Image shows laptop computer with Adobe Flash headstone
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Programs that run on Adobe Flash will no longer work on any devices or browsers after Jan. 12.

This isn’t breaking news—Adobe announced the decision in 2017 and has been providing periodic updates on efforts to phase out its widely used software. The software is going away because Adobe decided a few years ago that Flash has become outdated in the age of more sophisticated platforms. Major web browsers have been minimizing their use of Flash as well.

But it could have an effect on school operations that some people might not be expecting, particularly if they’ve been focused on all the other technology-related developments that have been unfolding during this monumentally chaotic year.

Todd Riker, chief technology officer for the Pike Township school district in Indiana, has been paying attention to the end of Flash since it was announced. In a recent interview, he shared the work he’s been doing behind the scenes, and offered some words of wisdom for any school employees who haven’t been following the gradual demise of Flash.

(For more information, check out Adobe’s FAQ page.)

Many ed-tech companies offered games and interactive tools that ran on Flash. Upon learning that Flash would be ending, Riker ran an internal analysis and found that his school district’s internal systems didn’t have any Flash-based tools. His team then began working with education companies such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Edmentum, and BrainPop to ensure that they were transitioning their Flash-based games to a new platform.

Transparency is key. Riker also notified teachers to be on the lookout for any Flash-based tools they were using in their own classrooms that might stop working, particularly on Chrome browsers. “We did have some tickets initially saying, ‘Oh my gosh, this is broken, what happened?’ It just became a communication effort for us,” Riker said.

This change reinforces the need for a data inventory. Riker said it’s important for districts to be constantly checking which products they are using, and the platforms on which they run. His tech team members, at times, had to ask curriculum staff to catch them up on the programs schools are running.

Stay vigilant. Riker has been keeping abreast of discussions about the end of Flash on a listserv of technology coordinators in his state, as well as on less official forums like Reddit. He believes most school districts are at least somewhat aware of the impact Flash’s departure will have, but it can’t hurt to be extra aware going into the new year.

“Will there be some little surprises?” Riker said. “I think there will.”

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