Posted by: Barinas | November 19, 2012

To IE or not IE?

I was recently observing a class where the instructor was trying to display on the Smartboard projector several interactive slides.  These slides are running from the textbook CD that he inserted on his computer’s CD-ROM drive.  But oddly enough, some slides ran ok while others did not.  The ones that did not work showed an error similar to the one shown below.

So what’s the deal?  He relaunched the system but it made no difference.  He waited to give the computer time to “think” and also went back-and-forward between slides to no avail.  He asked the class what could be the problem and one student said that the red “x” means that the image(s) did not load, and that there is really no quick fix for it.  Basically, it is something that happens at times, and there’s not much one can do about it.

This problem had nothing to do with internet connectivity, because it was an offline webpage from a CD rather than an internet website.  I noticed that hovering the cursor over the red x triggered a Javascript message in the status bar; therefore, this might be a Javascript issue.  (Javascript is a computer language that helps websites launch pop-ups, load forms,  and display dropwdown menus, along with many other interactive functions.

From my experience working in technical support, I thought that this had to do with user permissions in the browser related to Javascript or tools known as ActiveX Controls.  But regardless of the cause, the first thing I’d do to troubleshoot is either (1) reboot the computer, or (2) use another browser.  Unfortunately, the instructor didn’t have enough time left in the class to reboot.  The option to switch browsers was the next alternative, and we have learned in class that when one browser seems to malfunction, the quick fix is to switch to another one.

The computer, however, only had IE installed, because that’s the only browser available on all the school computers.  This makes me wonder whether it is in the best interest of teachers to have a variety of browsers to choose from, such as Firefox, Chrome and Opera.  Like the saying goes, two is better than one, right?  I’ve learned from experience that each browser has its strengths and weaknesses, and having a number of browsers to choose from can help instructors, because they can then decide which one works best for a particular webpage.

What do you think?  Is it better to have multiple browsers available or is it better to have only one for simplicity’s sake?  User rights are generally very tight on school computers and understandably so, but should IT let us launch alternate browsers from flash drives?  Are these matters worth discussing with the school’s IT department?   And if we are to have only one other browser aside from IE, which one should it be?  Firefox, Chrome or Opera?  Similar questions can be made about Macs, which are generally fitted with Safari and IE.  I believe that these are valid questions to consider, especially since pretty much everything we do on a computer revolves around browsers.  I personally prefer Firefox, but that doesn’t mean I am anti-IE .  However, I do think that it is good to have more than one browser available as long as doing so does not compromise the school’s security system or its data integrity.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. I love Firefox as well. However, I have Chrome on my computer too. I think it’s important to have more than one because sometimes things will not load on one browser but be fine on a different one. Even this past week, I was trying to look at the schedule page for our class on Firefox and it was the old version, so I couldn’t find the link I was supposed to. When I switched to Chrome, it was the updated version! I’ve been looking at the old schedule on Firefox all semester…

    • I agree, Emily. Having Firefox and Chrome alongside Internet Explorer is very helpful when troubleshooting. They are the unofficial three Musketeers of the windows world!

      • My only question is, how would multiple browsers effect IT’s ability to monitor internet usage? Would it make it more difficult or would it not really be a hassle at all? I am NOT an tech person, so I am not really sure the answer to those. I guess my issue is that I do think it necessary for schools to have blocks on certain webpages, etc. while also being able to monitor who is looking up what/what sites they are visiting if need be. Would having multiple browsers make this difficult? Just a question I have!

  2. Great question, Kaitlin! I believe that having multiple IPs should not cause the problems you described. Each computer on the internet is assigned what is called an IP, and it is my understanding that IT uses their servers to manage, track, and log the IP requests that pass through the router, regardless of the browser involved. All browsers act primarily as a middle man between the server and the user, as they relay IP requests and later display the data that came back from such IP (ex. Google’s IP is 173.194.35.179).

    Bottom line is that I don’t think that having multiple browsers should affect web filters, firewalls, monitors, and the like. The browsers’ own browsing history log, although useful, is primarily for end users and I think IT most often relies on server software to do the heavy-lifting when it comes to Internet monitoring. I know that all of this may come across as a lot of techie mumbo jumbo, but I hope that it at least helped a little!

  3. Pedro, you are so right that multiple browsers need to be installed… and that IE is probably one of the WORST ones out there. What we run into in schools is that permissions, security, and such are created in the best interest of IT departments, not staff. Simplicity and choice limitations potential reduce their workload and need to support. And your right – multiple browsers has nothing to do with filtering.

    If we don’t give teachers to the flexibility to use their tools at school in the largely the same way they would at home, we’re doing everyone a disservice and potentially discouraging technology use rather than encouraging and facilitating it. When we don’t, we often send teachers the implicit message that they are imbeciles and can’t be trusted. How do you suppose such messages impact the learning climate?

    • Dr. Ransom, I strongly believe that fostering a deeper relationship between teachers and IT has been seriously neglected. I think that school districts should schedule meetings in which teachers and the IT staff have a chance to talk and discuss each other’s needs as well as establish a stronger framework of mutual collaboration and support. Otherwise, this disconnect between IT and teachers will hamper the efforts for greater technology integration, and in turn, negatively affect students’ learning experiences.

      • Quite true. The disconnect is just as problematic in higher education…

  4. From what we learned in class, it is a good idea to have more than one browser on our computers. I have had the experience in class where I had to switch the browser I was using. But how do you get a different browser? Do you have to download a program? I use IE at home because that is what came on my laptop.
    If it is hard for schools to manage multiple browsers, they should at least offer two for the staff to choose from.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: