Wednesday, 4 July 2012

30 days of Web Tools: #2: Google Chrome extensions that are useful for students

submitted by Fiona Beal
Which browser do you use? Have you tried Google Chrome? I have three browsers installed on my computer (Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox) and I must say that Google Chrome is fast become my firm favourite. Recently I have been exploring free Chrome extensions and have been amazed at what is on offer. These could be very useful for the students we teach.


What is a Chrome extension?

Chrome extensions are extra features and functionality that you can choose to add to your browser from the Chrome Web Store. Generally I don’t go to the web store to choose as it is quite overwhelming – I go for recommended ones by other teachers. All the ones I have added to date are free and by recommendation . The extensions generally sit in the top corner of your browser and you click on one when you want to add it.

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Extensions on the top right corner of  my browser

1. Dictionary extension

If you ask Google for ‘Google Dictionary’ it will take you straight to the Chrome web store add-on page. 

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This is what it looks like in the Chrome Web Store


This tool can be so useful when students are researching as whenever they double click on a word the meaning is displayed as shown below.

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2. Speakit! (Text to Speech)

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This is a great extension that converts text to speech. All that you do once it is installed is highlight the text that you wish to have read to you, press the Speakit icon and listen. This is also useful for students when they are reading more difficult passages for example. 

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This is what it looks like in the Chrome Web Store



3. Speech to text

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This is an extension which allows you to click on a microphone and speak. The application types the words that are spoken. This extension could be useful for students who struggle with writing, although it does require editing as no punctuation is supplied.

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This is what it looks like in the Chrome Web Store


Basically you click on the icon and a window appears. Click on the microphone in the right hand corner of the top bar and speak. The typed words appear. One then clicks  Add to textbox and the words are transferred to the main section below.  From here they can be edited and placed into paragraphs.

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4. Scratchpad
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Scratchpad is a simple note-taking app that works offline and online. It can be seamlessly integrated with Google Docs and keeps your notes up to date. There is no saving and no sending. It just works!
 
 
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This is Scratchpad in the Chrome Web store

As you are browsing, and you open Scratchpad extension a little box appears on the left for you to make notes. This saves automatically in Google Docs. This is very useful for students who are browsing for information as they don't have to open a separate document for their notes.


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This is how it sits on your web page.



These are just four very useful extensions to get started on. Just give them a try. I honestly think the Google Chrome browser is amazing!

Further reading on even more useful extensions 

http://followmolly.blogspot.com/2012/01/life-after-internet-explorer-welcome-to.html
http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2012/01/10-useful-chrome-web-apps-and.html 


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