We recently started exploring the use of Google in our classrooms -- Google Chrome, Google Classroom, Google Chromebooks. There are literally hundreds of awesome things you can use to improve education in the Google environment, and it can be seriously overwhelming at first. Fortunately, there's an easy place to start: by having your students add some extensions to their Chrome browsers.
What Are Extensions?
Extensions run inside the Chrome browser. If you set Chrome up to sync, your extensions will load no matter where or how you log into Chrome. They are different than apps, which are basically websites preloaded into your browser. Extensions improve the functionality of Chrome, and subsequently of everything you do online.
How Do I Install Them?
You can install extensions through the Chrome Web Store, even if your organization does not usually allow you to download and install programs (for example, .exe files).
Which Ones Should I Get?
Too many extensions will slow down your browser speed, so try not to get too excited and install a thousand at once! Here are the first five extensions I would have students install.
1. Google Dictionary
This simple extension creates a dictionary icon in your browser bar. Students can click it to get instant dictionary access, or highlight a word on a website and click the dictionary to see the definition.
2. Adblock Plus
We've all gone to great websites with inappropriate ads. With Adblock Plus, that won't happen anymore: it's an extension that blocks advertisements. This is particularly useful with kids, who have a tendency to either stumble across the single most inappropriate ad on the internet, or get confused between ads and content.
3. Beeline Reader
Beeline Reader creates a colored gradient in blocks of text on a website, improving readability for many people. It eliminates end of line confusion, because your eyes automatically track to the next line. Students can even take a reading test on the website to see if Beeline Reader will help them.
4. Show Apps in New Tab
This is a ridiculously simple program: all it does is make it so that when students open a new tab, instead of seeing the Google search page, they see all their apps. This can be really helpful for students who have trouble locating their apps, or type very slowly. It's also just convenient.
5. One Tab
If you have students who tend to have a lot of tabs open in one window -- or if that's a problem you suffer from -- you'll love One Tab. With the click of a button, it condenses every open tab into a single window, giving you a list of links you can click on to reopen your tabs. This is a handy way to clean things up at the end of a class.
These are the first five extensions I had students install, but I'm sure there will be many others we discover throughout the year!
Question of the Day:
What Chrome extensions do you find valuable?
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