by Mrs. Gardner
Taking an online class can be a daunting experience in and of itself, but if students choose the proper tools, it will save them time and frustration, and learning online will be viewed as a very rewarding experience. Perhaps the most important tool for a rewarding online education is the correct browser. Currently, there are several browsers that a student might choose, and as with everything, each has pros and cons. The two most popular browsers are Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.
First, let me say that I used Internet Explorer as my browser of choice for the first eight to ten years of being online. Then, about five years ago, I came across some sites that claimed to work better with Firefox as a browser. So, wanting the best possible experience, I downloaded and started using Firefox as my preferred browser and found that it really did work better on many sites.
However, being a creature of habit, I could not completely let go of Internet Explorer, and I found that many sites still worked best with it. In fact, at that time, many learning platforms (such as Blackboard) worked best with Internet Explorer. In the last few years, Mozilla has perfected Firefox to the point where more and more learning platforms and websites now work better with Firefox. For instance, Moodle (the platform we use here at Time4Writing) works better with Firefox than Internet Explorer.
For instance, when using Internet Explorer, do you ever receive those pesky error messages that say Internet Explorer has had a problem and needs to be shut down? You know what happens next; you lose all the hard work you’ve just completed. Grrr! However, I have been using Firefox as my primary browser for over three years now, and have never had such a problem.
Firefox will also help Time4Writing students in other ways. For example, Firefox has a built in spell checker that underlines a misspelled word in red dots as soon as it is typed and has a space or punctuation placed after it. One click fixes the misspelled word, and students can continue on with their typing.
Firefox will also allow students to highlight a word or phrase, right-click it, and then use it to “Search Google.” This is a handy function for students writing essays, especially when wanting to know more about their topic.
Finally, if something unexpected does happen, like a power failure and the computer shuts down, Firefox saves your settings. With Internet Explorer, nothing is saved. You would have to go back to each and every page on each window to continue working. With Firefox, as soon as the power comes back and you open your Firefox browser, everything is just as it was before the failure. This feature alone keeps me using Firefox as my preferred browser.
Both MAC and PC users have found that Firefox is the best browser for achieving great results while working in Moodle (Time4Writing’s learning platform). Of course, there are other browsers and each individual needs to find the one that works best for their endeavors. If you want to know more about Firefox, you can visit and download a free version of the browser at http://www.mozilla.com. Downloading and setting up takes very little time or effort.<
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