Let's face it, online learning requires you to use the Internet. And using the Internet means using a web browser, a program that allows you to access and see the Internet. It's important that you know how to most effectively use your web browser in order to be a successful online student. In the past, most Internet users used Microsoft's Internet Explorer for their web browsing; however, other browsers have been gaining popularity recently with Firefox being the biggest competitor to Internet Explorer. The descriptions in this tutorial will be for Mozilla's Firefox, however, other browsers have similar capabilities.
One of the key parts of a web browser is the address bar. This is where the url, or website address, is listed. This is where you will type the url of a webpage that you want to visit.
Most web browsers these days do not require you to type in the http://, this is understood. For instance, if you wanted to visit the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center's website, you could simply type in www.valrc.org.
Another useful feature of web browsers are the minimize, maximize, and close buttons. These are located at the upper right corner of the browser. The minimize button, which looks like a dash, reduces the size of the webpage and allows you to see other applications that you have open. The maximize button, which looks like two boxes on top of each other, brings the webpage back up to full screen size. The close button, which looks like an x, closes down the browser. You will often hear people tell you to "x out" of something. This means that you should close the application by hitting the x.
The buttons at the top of your web browser are useful tools in your navigation of the Internet. Below is an explanation of some of the most commonly used buttons and what they can do for you.
This is an integrated set of buttons: back and forward.
The back button is one of the most useful buttons in a web browser. It allows you to return to the previous webpage. By clicking the back button multiple times you can go all the way back to the first page you opened in the web browser. Clicking on the button takes you back one page at a time. If you would like to go back more pages at a time, click on the little downward facing arrow that you see on the right side of the button. This will give you a drop-down menu of all pages seen in that browser and you may select the page you would like to go back to.
Just as the back button takes you back, the forward button takes you forward. This will only become an active button after you have used the back button. Let's say that you used the back button and went back one page too far. You can then use the forward button to go forward to the page you want. If you would like to go forward more pages at a time, click on the little downward facing arrow that you see on the right side of the button. This will give you a drop-down menu of all pages seen in that browser and you may select the page you would like to go forward to.
|The refresh button is one of the best buttons!! If you find that a webpage is having trouble loading, it is useful to hit the refresh button. This will reload the page and will often make it download when it wasn't doing it before. Refresh will also make your browser load the most recent version of a webpage.|
|The stop button allows you to stop a webpage from continuing to load. You may find this necessary to use if a page is taking a long time to load.|
|Firefox and most recent browsers, make use of tabbed browsing. That means that it allows your browser to contain multiple windows of webpages all in one window. The tabs, when clicked, display that other webpages that are open.|
The tool bar located above the buttons is also useful for the Internet user. Below is an explanation of the most useful tool bar selections. Clicking on each part of the tool bar produces a drop-down menu.
Clicking on File allows you to open a new web browser window, save a website on to your hard drive, print the webpage, send the webpage as a link to someone else by email, and many other functions.
Clicking on Edit allows you to copy content from a webpage, paste it into another document, select everything on a page, or find something specific on the page.
One of the best uses of View is the ability to resize the text on a webpage. If you have difficulty viewing the text on a webpage, you can increase it. Also you may decrease text size if you would prefer to see it all on the screen at one time.
Let's say that yesterday you were surfing the Internet and came upon a great site about GED testing locations. The very next day, a friend of yours asks you for some information on GED testing locations. You can use the History menu to find the page from the previous day without having to search for it all over again. Using the history button opens a sidebar with your history listed next to your webpage.
Bookmarks is a list of websites that you have saved as being your favorites. These are usually websites that you go to frequently. Using bookmarks keeps you from having to remember website addresses and from having to type them out every time. In Firefox, you can easily save websites as bookmarks when you are on the actual website. In the address bar, you can see a greyed out star at the end of the url. If you click on the star, it will become yellow and will then be saved as a bookmark. As you can see, I've set the Resource Center website as a bookmark.
Clicking on Bookmarks opens a drop-down menu that will then disappear once you select a new site to view. You may also organize your bookmarks into folders for better organization. Internet Explorer uses the term Favorites for their bookmarks.
You can also use your toolbar to save a list of your most frequently used bookmarks for the easiest access. You can select to have the websites display only by an icon (also called a favicon) or by name.