You may have noticed that browsers, including Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Safari have been actively blocking Flash over the past year. This has created some hurdles for us at SHSU Online, considering that certain tools utilized through Blackboard, are still running on Flash. Recently, Adobe announced that it is officially planning to remove support for Flash fully by the end of 2020.
This change is stimulated by a number of prompters, one of which is a widening concern for security. Recent breaches and vulnerabilities linked back to Adobe Flash have caused the company to reconsider its maintenance and support. Sun-setting Flash means that there will be an increased reliance on HTML 5 for digital content and for online apps and tools.
The removal of Flash will also bring to bear a number of changes (and possible disruptions) in online courses. For instance, if you have adopted digital content from a publisher, such as McGraw Hill Connect® or Pearson’s MyLabs®, you will find that a significant portion of their digital material, including assignments, animations, test questions, and presentations are Flash-based. This has left every major publisher scrambling for updating massive amounts of digital assets before the end of the year 2020.
Unfortunately, some of the updates that have been recently released by publishers have resulted in unwanted anomalies in online courses. For instance, we recently learned that McGraw Hill Connect ® has been systematically removing Flash-based test questions from their test banks, which is rendering broken links in some SHSU online courses, as well as a loss of point-values in online gradebooks. Be on the lookout for such eventualities! And, if a problem arises, please contact our 24/7 Support Desk.
Another way the end-of-life of Flash may touch our online courses is with regard to Presenter and Captivate files. There are over 450 instances in current online courses at SHSU that leverage Flash-based content in this fashion. We will be working with you to address these concerns over the next several months. It some instances, the solution may require Flash-based content be rebuilt, videos re-recorded, and presentations re-designed using non-Flash-based tools.
What can you do to prepare?
While we are testing all of the tools, apps, and Building Blocks inside of Blackboard to determine their Flash-dependence, you may want to verify if you are using any Web 2.0 tool or app in your course that may run on Flash. If so, be prepared to replace it by the end of 2020, unless the tool is updated prior to the loss of Flash.
As usual, we will be reaching out to you to update any course content that will be rendered unusable after the sun-setting of Flash. It is our expectation to revamp digital assets with you prior to the change to reduce the potential impact on SHSU's online students.