Why do some refuse to move forward?

May 9, 2012 § 3 Comments

I saw something over on Google+ last night that brought a flood of thoughts into my head about schools and technology, and I thought, “I’d better write all this down so I have my arguments organized for later.”

The gist of what was written was, “Application X doesn’t work in IE 8 anymore, and that means that a lot of schools won’t be able to use Application X because they’re on Windows XP and can’t get IE 9.”

My initial thought was, “Windows 7 has been out how long now (3 years, in case you’re wondering)? And your school is still using Windows XP? Maybe your IT guys need to let it go already.”

Now, that may seem a little harsh, but in the educational world, it seems like people just don’t like to let go of things. I know that teachers are pack rats…admit it, you know someone who still has a file folder of mimiograph sheet, but IT guys? Come on…I thought these were supposed to be the people who were progressive.

But there are a lot of schools that are still on XP, with no plans to move to anything new, even though Microsoft isn’t going to support XP after 2014.

The world is moving on, folks, and if you want to use the latest and greatest web apps, you’re going to have to have the latest and greatest web browser.

And while I’m on this little rant, let’s talk about the companies that still have a death grip on education and develop web applications that only work on IE, and only up to a certain version. I’m looking at you iTCCS and Pearson. Shouldn’t we expect companies to develop for ALL web browsers, or at the very least, the ones that are cross platform (Firefox, Chrome, and (ugh) Safari)

Now, part of the blame lies squarely on the shoulders on Microsoft for supporting an old OS long after it’s been out of production. Here’s where maybe they need to take a page out of the Apple handbook and change the architecture of their OS so drastically that software can’t run on the older systems indefinitely. Of course, that would require Microsoft to come out with and updated OS that actually works on a regular basis.

But part of the blame also clearly lies with the IT departments of school districts. Because they’re not forced to move forward, they don’t come up with a plan to migrate to the newest OS, only to complain when something that’s worked for the past 15 years suddenly doesn’t work anymore because it’s no longer supported on an old OS.

Look, I get it…most people hate change. And when you have something that’s been around as long as Windows XP, it’s time to let go. But these are schools we’re talking about here. We always talk about preparing children for the “real world,” for future jobs that haven’t been created yet. So why in the world are we forcing them to use an OS that’s been around for 11 years, but that won’t be around when the majority of these students graduate from high school?

If your school has bought new computers in the past two years and wiped them clean to install Windows XP, then they are not planning for the future. They are stuck firmly in the past.

We giggle and point with delight at Mac OS9 and how primitive it looks, but guess when Apple stopped supporting it? Three years after it was released, and only a year after OSX came out. Schools that were all Mac environments were forced to upgrade. If you walked into a school today that was using OS 9, wouldn’t you look at them funny and ask, “You’re still using that?” Why don’t people do the same for schools still stuck on Windows XP?

And don’t get me started on the whole “it’s what the teachers are used to” crap. You know how many of your teachers have purchased a new computer in the last 3 years? Guess what’s on that computer? Windows 7. If you extend that to 5 years, you’ve got people who have Windows Vista, too, which is more like Windows 7 than XP. What they’re used to is what they use at home, on their personal device.

As IT folks, can we please start being progressive? Start looking at a something new?

Full disclosure -after this summer, my district will still have about half of its campuses on Windows XP, but as computer are being replaced, we are moving them to Windows 7

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