Open standards in Dutch public education

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A couple of weeks ago Jan Stedehouder, a Dutch journalist, writer and Open Source advocate, published a blog post (english version here) about the use of Silverlight in the Dutch public education system.

Silverlight was Microsoft’s attempt to steal the dominant position in the field of proprietary rich internet applications from Adobe Flash. (By the way, it now seems that Microsoft may not support Flash nor Silverlight in Windows8+IE10. It remains to be seen whether this is good news for HTML5, or another instance of the embrace, extend and extinguish).

In his article, Jan goes over some of the problems of using non-standard formats and proprietary software in education, especially in the public system. Some of these problems are:

  • Denying access to those users who won’t or can’t use the proprietary platforms under which these products must be run.
  • Limiting the learning opportunities to the products of a short number of providers.
  • Turning public shools into subsidised academies for these proprietary products.

Jan proceeded to draft an open letter to the Dutch Parliament asking its members to legislate for the use of open standards in the educational system. He also launched a separate online petition that you can support at the end of his post. You will find the whole series of articles (in Dutch) here. It is an interesting read with good examples and arguments, worth reading even if you are already convinced.