Build a Better Browser:

An Overview of Firefox Themes & Extensions for Educators

This wiki was created to support a 20 minute CUE Tips session at the 2009 CUE conference.

Mark Wagner


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How A Browser Works

A web browser downloads a copy of a text-based HTML file from a web server to your computer and renders the file for you to view and interact with visually. In other words, a browser makes something like this:


Look something like this:


Not all browsers are created equal, so this page might look slightly different in different browsers - and some more advanced features might work in some browsers but not others. For instance, Microsoft's proprietary .NET framework may work better with their Internet Explorer browser, but not other browsers, while Internet Explorer often doesn't render W3C standards compliant websites accurately - and is famously vulnerable to hackers and malicious code. Similarly, Apple's Safari doesn't work well with many WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors, including (until recently) the one used to create this wiki.

Firefox, however, is standards compliant, cross platform, and feature rich. It's also highly secure - and fast to boot. It's open source software, so it's a free download and there are many many extensions and customizations available that can add surprising functionality to your browser. Below are a few extensions that might be most useful for educators... and edubloggers.

Download Firefox here.

More Resources:
How Firefox Works (from
Read about web browsers in the Wikipedia.

Open Source Software Overview

Open Sores?

Open Source is not just Linux... its for Windows and OS X, too.
Open Source is not a risk... its a proven development model.
Open Source is not just for geeks... it’s for the people.


Open, as in openness
Source, as in source code
Free, as in freedom

Open Source is...

Feature Rich

Learn more about open source software:

Firefox Overview

Firefox is...

Standards Compliant
Cross Platform
Feature Rich
Highly Secure
Very Fast

Firefox 2

Enjoy a Better Web Experience
Stay Secure on the Web
Personalize Your Browser

More Resources:
About the Mozilla Corporation (A California Non-Profit, like CUE)
More about Firefox

Extensions for Educators

Firefox Add-ons Website

Quick Must Haves
URL Fixer
Auto Dial

Google Toolbar
Google Definitions
Even More Google (From Google)
Even More Google (From Firefox)

Social Bookmarking (More)
More Bookmarking
Foxmarks (Not necessarily social, but recommended for syncing your bookmarks across multiple computers)


AideRSS Google Reader

File Transfer
Video Download Helper
Down Them All (Use with Google Docs Downloader to backup your Google Docs!) - and don't miss the Google Docs Mass Uploader app!
Fire FTP

Mores suggestions from educators on twitter.
More Extensions

Other Customizations

Themes (Choose one you like!)
Dictionaries (Add Spanish for Spanish speaking EL students.)
Search Engines (Add Yahooligans for young students.)
Plugins (Most of these are must-haves for full Internet functionality.)


How do you want to build your browser?