Episode 2: Simplifying Work with Chrome Extensions
Hello DJLN and welcome to our second episode of Let’s Get Googly! Last week I highlighted a few great Google Add-ons, which hopefully some of you have gotten a chance to check out by now. If you haven’t, take a look at the previous post, you might find a new tool to help you with classroom workflow or assessment.
This week we will take a look at Google Chrome Extensions. First, the basics: Chrome Extensions are extra features and functionality that you can add to your Google Chrome browser. With these handy gadgets you can tailor your browser specifically to you while keeping it free of extra features that you don’t need. While Google Add-ons tend to have much more robust functionality, extensions only make small changes, but ones that often make digital work much more efficient. To get started, just go to the Chrome Web Store, select “Extensions” on the left, and search for what you’d like. Once you install the tool, it shows up as an icon button on the upper right-hand side of your Chrome browser window. You can learn more about how to manage your Chrome Extensions, add new ones, or delete ones you no longer need on the Google Help pages.
Here are some extensions that especially helpful to your workflow as an educator:
- Google Docs Quick Create will enable you to make new Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, or Drawings with just one click. Instead of you having to open a separate Google Drive tab and creating there, you will be able to automate that process by just picking what type of Document you’d like to make from the extension button.
- Save the Trees allows you to easily capture a screenshot and print whatever part of a particular webpage you need without getting all the junk you don’t, like ads or irrelevant information. Save some ink, some time, and save some trees!
- Life today comes with a lot of passwords. Are you always forgetting one or another of the many you have for all your accounts? LastPass is a free password manager that stores your passwords in a safe, encrypted manner so you only need to remember your one main password.
- You can use Readability to save articles and pages you’d like to read later in an easy format. And it’s not just a great tool for teachers, it is also particularly handy for students doing research! Doing some online reading, or having your students do so? You can create a cleaner, less distracting experience with Clearly, an extension that when enabled in a window will remove ads and side-bar distractions leaving only the main text displayed. Since it is made by Evernote, it also has features that will send saved pages directly to your Evernote account, highlight text, and more.
- Google Dictionary is Google’s own tool that enables users to look up any word on a website quickly and easily. While reading or browsing, one need only highlight a word and press the extension’s logo button to receive a dictionary definition of the term.
- If “your” and “you’re” or “affect” and “effect” are common problems for your students, introduce them to Ginger. This handy tool will spell check text not only for plain, old spelling, but also contextually to remove such silly errors. It also has other built-in tools like a dictionary and a translation feature.
- To help you manage your own busy schedule, or to aid students in keeping track of homework assignments and class projects, there is Checker Plus. This extension gives users easy access to their calendars via a corner icon to make events and set due dates. Through the extension’s setting page, you can also set preferences for the tool to notify you when events are approaching or happening even when your Google Calendar is closed.
Hopefully one or more of these can make your busy school day a little simpler. If you give these extensions a try, or find others that you think teachers could benefit from, please tell us about your experience in the DJLN Google Group. And check back next week for the third part of this series, in which I will discuss using Google Classroom!