I have a little experiment for you tech-sensitive parents out there, walk into your son or daughters public school and sit down at their computers.
Now, if your kid is lucky, they’re probably using a three-year old computer, fully capable of browsing the web and doing low-key word processing. As a techy parent, you will probably notice the one thing that makes your skin crawl.
The only available browser your child has is Internet Explorer 7 or 8, or sometimes *shudders* IE 6.
Obviously, we all know that Internet Explorer is quite horrid in many ways. This is not to mention there are dozens of standards compliant browsers out there for free. So, why aren’t school using them?
I asked a few of my online friends why they thought most schools use IE as the default browser. Unsurprisingly, most people I asked assumed that it was because IE is the default browser and it is simply cheaper for schools to use the default browser. Both of these are valid reasons, and correct in some ways, but there is one important factor that people overlook.
IE provides deep control.
All public schools are big on censoring the internet, it’s a shame really since so many legitimate sources are blocked, but due to parental concerns, and of course school responsibility, it is a need.
This also means schools need to be able to control what is installed on their computers, that includes browser add-ons that could potentially be installed to get around filtering systems such as iPrism. After an hour or so of research, turns out that Internet Explorer is the only one that allows such minute control for IT admins. MSDN outlines the amount of control admins have with IE here, it is actually powerful stuff.
This means two things:
- Schools will continue using IE, no matter how horrid it is, until competing browsers offer the same amount of control IE provides.
- As long as schools continue using IE, students will continue being educated that the internet = installing and using Internet Explorer.
The second one is the most concerning, since schools are educating students that Internet Explorer should be used and installed to browse the web. This means no matter what, IE will have a dominant position in the browser market simply because many schools teach students to exclusively how to use IE. Old habits die-hard.
So what needs to be done? Competitors to IE need to talk to public schools to encourage IT admins to make the switch to better, faster and more secure browsers, as well as make school admins feel safe that students won’t run ramped on the tubes.
Education is the future, so far, IE is the only browser that is going to be apart of that future.