Perhaps I am a bit obsessive when it comes to web browsers?
And I’m sure it’s directly related to running four different web browsers daily on my computer for work.
But it constantly reminds me how which web browser you use directly impacts your internet user experience.
Here’s our review on what educators need to know about the top web browsers.
And our challenge to you is to trial some of these web browsers for 2 weeks to work out which browser is the best for you!
The top five most used web browsers in 2011 were:
Key browser facts to be aware of are:
- Internet Explorer continues to dominate the web browser market because it comes with the Windows operating system and many users aren’t aware that there are alternative web browser they can use.
- Internet Explorer’s dominance is decreasing because tech savvy users find the alternative web browsers are faster at loading sites and have less issues than Internet Explorer.
- Firefox and Chrome are the most commonly used web browsers by tech savvy users.
- Educational institutions often only allow one web browser to be installed on their computers due to the reluctance to provide support for alternative web browsers. This attitude is slowly changing as awareness of the benefits of alternative web browsers increases.
- Some educational institutions continue to use outdated versions of Internet Explorer (IE 6 and 7) which greatly impact user experience (negatively).
- You can run more than one web browser on your computer at the same time without causing any issues.
- You should always check your website or blog in Internet Explorer, preferably IE 8, because this is the browser most likely used by people visiting your site. You can find that a website looks fine in other web browsers but look differently or loads poorly in Internet Explorer.
- You can check whether you’re using the latest version of a web browser by checking the version number, usually located under Help > About in your web browser, with the information on Browse Happy.
Popular Browser add-ons used in education
Regardless of which web browser you choose, all modern browsers support a large number of freely available add-ons (extensions) that give it new functionality while improving your experience.
These can be searched for and installed from:
- Internet Explorer Gallery Add-Ons
- Firefox Add-ons page
- Chrome Web Store- extensions
- Opera Add-ons
- Safari Browser Extensions
Popular add-ons used in education include:
- Apture - highlight any phrase on a page to search and explore more information without leaving the web page
- Awesome Screenshot - for quick screenshots
- Diigo Toolbar - to easily annotate, screenshot and bookmark links to Diigo. Great for reference and resource sharing.
- Delicious Bookmark - to easy bookmark links to Delicious and access Delicious bookmarks
- Evernote - for saving things you see on the web to your Evernote account
- Read it Later - To quickly save pages to read later.
- Shareaholic - easily share interesting links via social networks, blogs, IM
- Springpad - Quickly save ideas and information you want to remember
- TweetDeck (Chrome) – for monitoring Facebook and Twitter
- Xmarks Sync - Keeps bookmarks, passwords and open tabs synced across computers and browsers
- Zemanta - improves your blogging dashboard by recommending images, links, articles and tags while you write.
- Zotero - helps you collect, manage and cite your research sources
Top Browser trends in Education
The top browsers used by visitors to all 1 million+ of the blogs on edublogs.org provides a good indication of changing browser habits in education and schools.
The sudden drop in Internet Explorer usage in July is directly related to the school holidays in the Northern Hemisphere where educators and their students are able to use the web browser of their choice on their home computers as opposed to what they have to use on their school computers.
When compared with data from StatsCounter you’ll notice Internet Explorer usage in education is lower than data collected for all Internet users while Safari is higher reflecting the higher percentage of Mac use in schools.
Overview of the Top Web Browsers
Microsoft Internet Explorer might be the most widely used web browser but it isn’t the best web browser. It tends to be slower loading and more prone to being unresponsive than some of the alternative web browsers.
Firefox is one of the best web browsers and includes an extensive feature set. It’s interface is fairly similar to Internet Explorer making the change over from Internet Explorer easy for the new user.
Google Chrome is the web browser developed by Google. It has rapidly grown in popularity this year and recently become the second most widely used web browser (based on StatCounter stats).
It has a minimalistic user interface that is different from other modern web browsers. However, once you get use to the differences you’ll soon appreciate how fast, simple and stable Chrome is to use. It also include features that aren’t part of other web browsers such as:
- Incognito mode – handy for opening different accounts for an online tool using the same web browser (great for testing student and teacher accounts) or when you want to browse in private without it being recorded in your histories.
- Google Sync – allows you to sync your bookmarks, settings, theme, and so on between different computers running Chrome.
Safari is Apple’s web browser.
While it is most commonly used on Macbooks, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch; you can install it on a PC.
Opera uses a very minimalistic user interface similar to Chrome.
Are we missing any tips and advice you would give on web browsers? Do you have any favorite add-ons to add to our list?
Please leave a comment to let us know!