One of the great features of open source software is the potential for the wider community to start rapidly developing and integrating new features, in many ways utilising the power of the crowd. The web browser Firefox is a great example. Its origins lie in the developers frustrations of developer driven feature creep. Creating an open project has resulted in a staggering number of add-on customisations. Currently there are over 10,000 official add-on are list on the Firefox site. Whilst many of this extensions haven’t been designed with educational uses in mind many lend themselves to potentially enhancing the student’s learning experience. One such example is the social research extension Juice.
Juice basically allows you to pull up additional research information from a web page by using a simply mouse gesture. The information is then presented in a sidebar so that you don’t have to navigate away from the original page. Juice has a degree of ‘intelligence’ when discovering search results. For example, names of people or places are referenced by Wikipedia while movie names might return results from YouTube or IMDB. This in itself is a great achievement but the makers of Juice have gone one set further by offering the opportunity to link your research results to your Facebook account adding a whole additional social dimension. The clip below explains all:
If your campus doesn’t support Firefox don’t forget you can download a portable version as part of the EduApps suite, this will allow you to run it from a USB stick. If you are interested in other ‘educational’ extensions for Firefox we’ve created the Educational Extensions Collection which contains some more add-on you might want to tryout yourself or recommend to students.