Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why aren't all schools using Firefox?

I was just reading an article written by Steve Lee enititled "Mozilla Firefox helping to make the web accessible to all". It discussion many different accessibility features that are built into Firefox that are aimed at providing access to the web as well as different extensions that can be added to Firefox (at no charge) to improve the accessibility of the browser. There is ongoing committment by the Firefox developers to increase the accessibility of Firefox as well.

Firefox is not only free and working towards good accessibility, but just like the extensions (also called add-ons) mentioned above, there are a number of extensions that can support students in a variety of ways. Here are a few of my favorites beyond those that can be added for accessibility:

  • Clipmarks - Allows a person to clip all or part of the web page and organize into various collections while retaining URL info. Great for research!
  • Duplicate Tab - A person can duplicate a current tab along with its browsing history.
  • Del.icio.us - A quick access to posing links to one's own del.icio.us account.
  • Diigo Toolbar- A quick access to posting links, organizing links, highlighting and annotating web content through one's own diigo service.
  • FireShot - FireShot is a Firefox extension that creates screenshots of web pages.
    Unlike other extensions, this plugin provides a set of editing and
    annotation tools, which let users quickly modify captures and insert
    text and graphical annotations.
  • Image Zoom - Allows images to be viewed independenly of the webpage and enlarged.
  • Google Notebook - Great tool for quickly creating and sharing Google Notebooks.
  • Hyperwords - Select any word or words on any web page. A menu pops-up. Choose from
    any one of the many powerful commands. Fully customizable menu and
    behavior.
  • PicLens - Allows browesing of online photos and videos in a very unique way! Much easier than standard browsing methods.
  • Scribefire - ScribeFire is a full-featured blog editor that integrates with your
    browser and lets you easily post to your blog. You can drag and drop
    formatted text from pages you are browsing, take notes, upload images,
    and post to multiple blogs.
  • Tab Catalog - By hovering over an icon, the user get a thumbnail array of all of the open tabs. Nice way to find the tab for which one is looking!
  • WOT - Warns users about risky websites that try to scam visitors, deliver malware, or send spam.
  • Zotero - Great for those of use doing research. This tool allow for the collection and organization of many different content types. It will even capture the necessary information for correct citations and produce those citations in the correct format (e.g., APA, MLA, etc.).
There are so many more extensions that can be used to help students explore and interact with web content. When I have had the fortune to present and work with educators, I often speak highly about different ways in which Firefox can be used. I am shocked and amazed how many times I am told that their schools have policies that prohibit Firefox from being installed on school computers. I hope more teachers will advocate for access to Firefox within schools.

Given all of the power and flexibility of Firefox...why aren't all school using it? Talk about Universal Design....

2 comments:

AT rookie said...

You are absolutely right! Firefox does have amazing add on's and extensions. I love Google Notebook and use it myself for research on gift ideas for loved ones, papers for school etc. I did not know about some of these extensions you mentioned. Thanks!

narrator said...

Add Click-Speak and gTranslate to this list. Both are tools that need to be available on every school computer.

- Ira Socol