Let me lead off by saying that this is entirely my own personal opinion. However, I’ve had a LOT of experience supporting users on a variety of web browsers using our Blackboard system here at Palomar, so I am basing that personal opinion on a good deal of both personal experiences and anecdotal evidence. What I’m talking about is the question I typically do my best to dodge: “What web browser should I use with Blackboard?”
First off, there is no “should.” If you have some strong reason for using one particular browser, go right ahead. None of the browsers are perfect when interacting with Blackboard; all have their own quirks. If you have found a browser that works well with the way you use Blackboard, certainly keep on with what works for you.
That being said, a lot will depend not just on what web browser, but also what operating system. (Of course things can’t be simple!) For example, the experience using Chrome on OS X is quite different than that of Chrome on Windows 7. My own experiences are with, on a Mac running OS X, Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, and Mozilla’s Firefox; on a PC running Windows 7 (and many earlier versions, but let’s not go there), Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. I won’t even bother to speak to version numbers – if you aren’t using “the latest version” of whatever browser, then you should be. (Sorry, but it’s just the truth. Using an out-of-date version of a browser is like an engraved invitation to have your information stolen and all your accounts hacked, these days.)
(See, this is truly an opinion piece. I can easily imagine the yells from my co-workers over what I’ve already said.)
I think the default behavior for a Mac user is to use Safari, just like the default behavior for a Windows user is to use Internet Explorer. Ironically, my suggestion for what browser to use, is “not those.” I think quite highly of both the Chrome and Firefox browsers, and I think it is a best practice to have both those browsers installed on your computer. That way, if you are happily using Firefox on your Mac, but then run into one of those quirks that causes pain in a Blackboard course, you can just hop over onto your install of Chrome and finish things up in that browser.
Make the time to use both, and get comfortable in both. It will be worth the effort, because so far I haven’t seen both Firefox and Chrome ever have problems with the same thing. Neither is perfect, but their flaws never quite seem to overlap, so being able to bounce between them makes for a good Blackboard-using experience. So, yes, Mac or PC, I am advocating having three browsers installed. On a Mac you’d have Safari (which comes pre-loaded), along with Chrome and Firefox; on a PC you’d have Internet Explorer (which comes pre-loaded), along with Chrome and Firefox. That way, when you hit a problem, it’s easy to switch over to another browser without having to go through the whole install process at what will inevitably be the worst possible time.
So, for those of you looking for the short version of this story: What web browser should I use with Blackboard? Multiple browsers, Chrome and Firefox for preference.
That answer may stick in your craw, but if you do you’ll at least be able to keep working instead of being stuck when something goes awry between your browser and Blackboard.