One of the great features of Chrome is the countless extensions that can add extra features. Here are the extensions I couldn’t get by without.
I love twitter and use it in primarily two ways: to share resources and have conversations. Often, I’ll find links in bunches and at unusual times. Rather than deluge my followers with 10 link tweets in the middle of the night, I use Buffer to space my tweets out and post at times that the majority of my followers are online. I’m generally very wary of any tools that auto-tweet (spam) on my behalf, but buffer is different in that every tweet is mine — I’m just time shifting the tweet to a better time. I highly suggest you check this one out if you are a heavy social media user.
Evernote is amazing. It’s become my digital brain, where I store reference materials and notes. The easiest way to get a web page or pdf into Evernote is through this extension.
Evernote Web Clipper
Too many passwords? Don’t fall into the trap of reusing the same one everywhere. Use LastPass to remember your passwords. The form fill feature alone is a huge time saver as it’ll fill your saved information (address, email, etc) with one click.
Pocket is a read it later service. I’ll click this extension when I have something I’d like to read but don’t have time to now, and it’ll be added to my Pocket account.Then, when I have time I’ll use the Pocket iOS app and enjoy some longer reads.
This is a fantastic extension that helps in the writing process, particularly by reading back text in a Google Doc. I’ll often catch writing mistakes by listening to Read&Write. Anything that helps improve my writing is a must have for me!
Read&Write for Google Docs
YouTube is full of great videos, but it’s also full of some not-so-great ones that always seem to be recommended on the side of the videos I watch. YouTube comments are notorious as a display of the depravity of the human race. Especially when teaching or presenting, I don’t want those distracting aspects on display, so I’ll use Turn Off the Lights to black out everything but the video itself.
Turn Off the Lights
The voicemail service at my school is able to email messages as a .wav file. Before this extension, I had to download the attachment and use an application or OSX’s quick look to listen. Now this extension adds a player in the email, no download needed.
WAV Player for Gmail
Those are the extensions that work for me. I’d encourage you to try them out, but also to look through the Chrome Web Store and find extensions that work for you.
Did I miss any must have extensions? Please let me know in the comments!
This AppleTV Mount was designed by an 8th Grader to solve a real-world problem. AppleTVs are relatively cheap and offer some amazing features, so we wanted to add these quickly and simply to our AV systems in classrooms. We wanted to mount AppleTVs directly to the projector, and neither velcro or double-sided tape could handle the job. Fortunately, we have a MakerBot Replicator 3D printer and a brilliant motivated student to create this:
So now around 25 AppleTVs are mounted throughout campus using this mount and a long zip tie.
If you need a mount, and have a 3D printer, feel free to download and print the design!
Apple released an update for the AppleTV this week that resolves the largest issue in using AppleTVs in a school. As covered here before, the AppleTV is a relatively cheap and powerful device that has many Interactive Whiteboard manufacturers scared. Previously, the only way to limit access to wirelessly project using the AirPlay feature was to set a password. Once the password was entered into a device, that device could “hijack” the screen from anywhere, as long as it was connected to the same network.
Now, an update is available which enables a simple fix. When “Onscreen passcode” is turned on, a 4 digit code will appear on the screen when attempting to AirPlay. Upon entering this code, the user will successfully connect. This forces the device to be in the same location as the screen, and eliminates headaches of the possibility of a projector being controlled by someone on the other side of campus.
Recently a good friend asked me for some details on why Google Apps is a good fit for K-12 education. As I thought over all the reasons why Google Apps works for education, I actually had hard time picking a place to start. To me, it’s become a platform – a digital foundation – that the communication and creativity of our school is based upon. I seriously couldn’t imagine going back!
So, here’s just a few reasons why I believe that every school should make the switch to Google Apps.
1 – Collaboration.
As one of the “4C”s of 21st Century Skills, it’s essential that collaboration is a friction-free, common, everyday activity for our students and faculty alike. The tools of Google Apps are focused on quick, powerful yet simple collaboration. There’s not a better email system, with a powerful organizational system like labels, built in chat and Google+ style Hangouts, interesting experimental Labs, and countless other details. Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is a fundamental tool. Watching students work on the same document, at the same time is amazing, and Google Drive quickly becomes a tool students and teachers simply can’t survive without.
2 – Ubiquitous.
These tools are available on any computer or device with an internet connection. The same apps are available at home as used in school. Remember the switch from .doc to .docx files? I sure do! Never again will we have to deal with incompatible versions of documents. USB drives aren’t needed, as files are available anywhere. With more colleges and businesses using Google Apps, as well as being a fantastic tool for personal productivity, it’s likely that our students will use these tools later in life.
3 – Cost Savings.
Google Mail and Drive have rapidly replaced the need for Exchange servers and Microsoft Office. For many schools, Office licensing can be the largest software licensing fee budget item. While it might not have every feature, I’d estimate that 90% Office – the key features – are available. Sometimes, a lack of a feature is a feature in itself. Honestly, the world would be a better place without some powerpoint features like custom animations and transitions!
4 – Security and Up-time.
Moving to the cloud can be a scary process. It’s hard to not feel a loss of control. But compare the numbers. Can your self-hosted or current email system compete with the track record of Google? Honestly, I trust the resources of Google – the same resources used by BBVA, a financial services company of over 110,000 employees – to be more secure and dependable than anything I can host myself.
These are just a few of the major reasons why I can’t imagine “doing technology” in K-12 education without Google Apps. Take a look at the creative ‘hacks’ at youpd.org or the massive collaborative projects such as this presentation made by 140+ teachers, and it’s quite clear that this is a tool with far too many benefits to ignore.
When considering Google Apps, a few common mistaken sticking points seem to surface again and again. Dr. Henry Theile has created a superb overview answering the common objections to Google Apps Dealing with the FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. that anyone considering the switch should investigate.
Google Apps for Education is a easy decision after you consider the facts. Going Google is the way to go.
Students created comics as part of a “How To” tutorial building project.
Reading came alive when students used the new trailers templates to create book trailers as a book report.
By creating videos to explain their understanding on topics, students were able to offer insight into their thinking processes.
Students quickly learned to adjust the difficulty settings to meet their individual level.
A simple way for students to monitor noise level. Really effective when projected for the class to see.