I’ve believed for a while that the web browser I use should serve as a toolbox, of sorts – equipped with extensions/addons (the tools) that help me get my online work done more quickly and efficiently. We’ve talked here at CDE about recommending addons in the past during our iTeach training for instructors and faculty, but students (obviously) can benefit from understanding how to take control of their online work environment too.
Along that same line of thinking, the people at Mozilla have put together a set of FireFox addon “collections” for different types of web users – something we could easily put together for students. Recommendations for addons that connect to tools that make accessing, saving, and managing course resources, class conversations, and student research easier. A good place to start, right?
As we talk more and more about personal learning environments, browsers are appealing for their flexibility at the user-level that can be used to pull together various online resources. As a learning environment, browsers are centered around individuals, they can be highly customizable (assuming you use something like Firefox), and they put the student in control of the information. They also makes it possible for students to easily access classes they may be taking from different organizations, or even material they are studying independently, such as from the growing selection of open courseware material.
I could be corny and something to the effect of how browsers put the “P” in PLE, but I won’t, but what other tool offers the student, as an individual, the same level of control? Ok, maybe a notebook, but it can’t connect to the web. This whole idea depends on the answer to one question, though. Can schools make the materials in their online courses more portable so it is even possible for students to access and aggregate the pieces into something that works for them?