Can someone please hike over to Redmond and provide a concise but blunt lesson on WEB ACCESSIBILITY to the computer industry gurus of yesteryear who still live and work there?!

I am mildly glad to see Microsoft sponsoring an educational summit this month on the issue of school reform and designing “schools of the future.” I am pretty disgusted that their web link to a summative digital story (“Click HERE to see the new School of the Future Video!”) apparently isn’t posted in a web format that plays well on non-Windows IE browsers. I may be overreacting here, but I don’t think so– the movie isn’t playing in either FireFox or Safari for me– or the defunct and now irrelevant IE 5.2 for Mac.

Here’s a news flash for conference attendees: Guess what guys? In the school of the future, most of the computer desktops won’t be running MS Windows! Doubt this is true? Then you obviously haven’t ever or lately downloaded and installed an updated distribution of Linux, like Ubuntu or Open SUSE. It’s time to wake up, folks. We live in a diverse world that is both multi-lingual and multi-platform. Hallelujah for that! If people like me have anything to say about that technology trend (and we do), it is going to stay that way! The momentum behind projects like the MIT $100 laptop initiative is just going to grow larger in the months and years to come. Open source is the future.

If you want to be a relevant communicator in the 21st century, you need your content to be freely accessible in digital forms. People as smart as Redmond corporate types should know what computer accessibility means. Sadly, some apparently don’t, at least the ones posting video links on the “School of the Future Summits Virtual Community Portal.”

So here is a direct message to those folks:

I would like to view your video guys and gals, I really would– I’d love to give it a blog posted evaluation. Problem is, you aren’t speaking my language on the digital trail you’ve posted a sign to on your website. This language is called web standards. It’s not very complicated, but it is very important. Please check it out. Otherwise, I and many others like me won’t be checking YOU out, or your content.

And isn’t that a sad day, when the choices you have made make you an ignored voice regarded as inaccessible and irrelevant in a global conversation about things that matter: like teaching and learning in the 21st Century?

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One Response to Inaccessible School of the Future Video

  1. Wesley – I was thrilled to see your post about the SOF partnership in Philly…and equally thrilled to be given a chance to see it from a very different point of view. Well done. Intense reaction, but I think dead-on!

    I added your comments/ideas to a post of my own that also includes another’s reaction to the SOF concept, showing hopefully that what appears ‘simple’ on the surface can in fact illicit an infinite range of ideas and responses. Here’s the link:
    http://thinklab.typepad.com/think_lab/2005/11/reflections_upo.html

    I had a chance recently to talk with the co-leader of the program in Philly (Microsoft employee), a school principal/leader in Philly who was there at the announcement of the first principal recently, and a few others who are familiar. However well the marketing side of things is unfolding, I have no doubt that the work being done will lead to other similar public school and business partnerships to create SOF’s of their own in other cities.

    Hopefully the points you make about Microsoft’s video (and how it can be viewed — or not viewed, outside of the open source world) won’t be repeated in the future. Perhaps, however, business is business…no matter what one does with 21st century schools today.

    Again, thanks for your posting…and for furthering extending my eyesight. I continue to marvel at the way in which you and others are pushing the conversation technology-wise…and do hope that in time you’ll see dramatic shifts in focus/commitment within the classroom itself, although I think that for anyone outside of it we must all be far more patient than our own gut instincts suggest.

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