Ten essential Chrome extensions for teachers (second edition)

Last year, I published my first list of ten essential Chrome extensions for teachers. In no particular order, that list includes: AdBlock Plus, Full Page Screen Capture, Screencastify, Save to Google Drive, Google Keep Chrome Extension, Share to Classroom, goo.gl URL shortener, Grammarly, Momentum and Panic Button Plus. Apart from goo.gl URL shortener which has recently been discontinued, the list still stands and I continue to use these extensions regularly. For links and more information, you can revisit that post here.

Since publishing that list, I have continued to discover new extensions that deserve the same recognition. Listed below are ten more essential Chrome extensions for teachers. The links will take you to the Chrome Store where you can easily add them to your own Chrome browser.

Ecosia – The search engine that plants trees

Ecosia is a search engine that spends its ad revenue on environmental projects. Their ambitious goal is to plant one billion trees by 2020. The homepage shows updates on their progress. Furthermore, this social business supports full transparency and publishes its monthly financial reports. Ecosia can be used without the extension by going to the website, but installing the extension will make Ecosia the default search engine so that searches can be made directly from the address bar. It will also customise new tabs with the Ecosia search page. I have been using Ecosia for web searches for a few months and I also encourage my students and colleagues to support this worthwhile organisation.

Bitmoji

Bitmoji allows users to create a personal avatar of themselves that can be sent as hundreds of picture messages. As a teacher, I like to use Bitmoji to add a personal touch to feedback and communication with my students (and occasionally to send silly pictures to my colleagues). Once a “personal emoji” has been created on the Bitmoji app, it can be accessed from any device by logging in. By installing the Chrome extension, images can be easily accessed from a small pop-up window in the browser. It will also add a Bitmoji icon to Gmail’s compose window, allowing users to easily insert Bitmoji images into emails. I love Bitmoji so much that I wrote a whole blog post about it. Click here for more information.

bitm

TLDR: Summarize Anything

TLDR stands for ‘Too Long Didn’t Read’. Often, texts look interesting but they’re too long and overwhelming. With a quick click of this extension icon, any web page can be summarised at four different lengths. They’re not always perfect, but these snapshots are still useful for getting a flavour of texts. Readers can then decide if the extended versions are worth their time. TLDR also offers some additional functions. It can find related content and also analyse an article to help determine its credibility. By clicking ‘Check for Fake News/Trustworthiness’, TLDR will break down texts and provide an in-depth analysis.

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Save to Pocket

The Pocket app allows users to save online content so that it can be accessed and viewed later. By installing the extension, web pages can be saved to a Pocket account with one click. Pocket will sync across all devices and, best of all, saved content can be accessed even when offline. I have this app installed on all of my devices and I find it very useful. The extension allows me to effortlessly add to my reading list. It’s perfect for when I find something interesting but don’t have time to read it at that moment. Also, the offline capability is very useful for in-flight reading.

EDpuzzle

EDpuzzle allows teachers to customise and personalise videos from the internet and then assign them to students as video lessons. Teachers can insert comments, voiceover and questions into the video assignments. It’s excellent for independent work, homework and flipped learning. This extension will place the EDpuzzle icon below videos on YouTube. By clicking the icon, the video will open in EDpuzzle ready for your personalisation. The extension cuts out several steps, saves precious time and makes the process even easier. Click here to find out more about EDpuzzle.

InsertLearning

Similar to EDpuzzle, InsertLearning can customise web pages so that they can be assigned as interactive lessons. By clicking the extension, teachers can add comments, highlights, sticky notes, questions, discussion prompts and other interactive content to any website. When the interactive lesson is ready, it can be assigned to students via Google Classroom. I love how InsertLearning encourages my students to actively engage with online content rather than just passively consume it. It also allows me to draw their attention to particular parts. Unfortunately, the free version limits users to five lessons, but teachers/schools can use these to determine if the paid version is worth it. For pricing options, click here (scroll to the bottom).

BeeLine Reader

This extension claims to help over 90% of people (not just children) read more fluently by changing the colour of the text to form different gradients. The subtle adjustments help to keep readers focused and guide them along the lines. The extension can also change the text to a dyslexia-friendly font (see below). This can be toggled on/off in the settings. Users can experiment with the colour options to establish which one is most beneficial for them. From the extension window, there’s an additional option to enter ‘Clean Mode’ (also below). This will remove distractions from web pages. This extension seems to help me and my students, so I encourage you to give it a go. BeeLine Reader can be used on most web pages, Kindle Books, Gmail and Google Docs. There is also a separate version for PDFs.

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Please note: after two weeks of unlimited use, the free version will restrict to five uses per day. However, teachers and students may be eligible for the free Student Pass. Contact BeeLine for more details.

Bitly | Unleash the power of the link

The ability to shorten URLs is useful but, as I mentioned, my previous recommendation (goo.gl URL shortener) has been discontinued since my previous list was published. Fortunately, this long-running alternative is equally recommended. With one click on the extension, the pop-up window provides a short link that can easily be copied, shared and saved to a Bitly account. The title and link can both be customised as shown below.

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Alice Keeler SlideShot

When activated, this extension will take a screenshot every minute and save it to a Google Drive folder. Manual screenshots can also be added by clicking the extension icon. After clicking ‘finish’, all of the screenshots are automatically collated on a Google Slides deck (one screenshot per slide). The screenshots do not fill the slides because students are encouraged to use the additional space for comments and reflections. This is a fantastic tool for both students and teachers because it makes progress and learning visible, puts the focus on the process rather than the product and encourages students to explain their thinking. Like any Slides presentation, students can submit them through Google Classroom.

EquatIO – Math made digital

In the past, mathematics was notoriously challenging to digitise. There are many symbols, functions and equations that teachers were unable to type. Not only does EquatIO make these things possible, it makes them possible in several different ways. The image below shows the hand-written option on the left and how my handwritten maths has been automatically digitised on the right. This digital version can then be inserted into Google Docs. With the premium version (free for teachers), the expressions can also be added to Google Drawings, Google Slides, Google Sheets and Google Forms (particularly useful for creating digital quizzes). EquatIO offers other ways to input maths expressions also. These include typing, LaTeX and voice recognition (which is surprisingly accurate). For maths teachers (especially secondary), EquatIO is a dream come true!

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I hope that this second list of extensions is useful to you. Once again, click here to see my previous list. Out of these twenty recommendations, I’m confident that you will find many of them beneficial whatever your teaching context. What essential extensions have I missed? Please leave a comment if you have additional recommendations.


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