Wednesday, 31 October 2012

30 Days of Google #2: Ten favourite Chrome extensions


Submitted by Fiona Beal
Yesterday in our new 30 Days of Google series I wrote a post about the Chrome browser ‘Get to know the Chrome browser. Today I want to tell you about some of my favourite extensions (all free) that you can add to your Google Chrome browser bar to make browsing a breeze!

What exactly is a Chrome extension?
Chrome extensions are free 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 by recommendation. The extensions generally sit in the top corner of one’s browser and you click on one when you want to use it. This is what my browser bar looks like currently in the top right corner.


I love the way Amy Meyer illustrates the Chrome browsing experience in a post on her Fried Technology blog. 


Did you know?
1. The top of your Chrome browser where the URL is found is called an OMNIBOX because it integrates the URL bar and the search functionality. (You don’t have to go to first.) This is also the place where your Chrome extension icons will be added. 
2. When you open up Chrome you have the option to sign in.  If you do all your extensions show, no matter which computer you  are using. Amazing!

Ten favourite Chrome extensions
1. Google dictionary extension
This is SO useful for your students especially primary school students. .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. The meaning simply pops up in a yellow box. 


2. Diigo bookmark, highlighting, archiving and anootating extension
Diigo is a MUST for anyone who surfs the Internet.  The extension added to your browser enables you to quickly save something for laterand open it again on any computer where you have signed into Chrome. You just click on the icon and it opens a box that will enable you to tag the resource very easily.  It is a case of:

1) Click on the extension icon
2) Choose ‘bookmark’
3) Add the tag name
4) Click on save 


3. Google URL shortener
Whenever you are in a website and you want to shorten the link to promote it on Facebook or Twitter, the URL shortener is right there on the browser bar. You cick on it and it gives you the shortened version to copy. 


4. Adblock
This is described as ‘The most popular Chrome extension, with over 10 million users! Blocks ads all over the web.’ How often are you in YouTube and the ads start appearing? It is most annoying.  AdBlock It works automatically: just click "Add to Chrome," then visit your favourite website and see the ads disappear! 


5. Webpage screenshot
This takes a picture of your web page immediately and all you have to do is save it. It is like Printscreen except that you can also do the following to the page:
  • Draw
  • Edit
  • Cut
  • Change Resolution
  • Write Comments
  • Share instantly via Gmail

6. Save as PDF
This extension lets you download web pages as PDFs in one click. It uses html to pdf online service. This can save loads of time when wanting to download an interesting resource to use later.


7. Tab Cloud
Tab Cloud allows you to save any window session and restore it at a later date or
on another computer. It effectively allows you to sync open tabs
between multiple computers. To use TabCloud you simply click the TabCloud icon on
the browser bar; you will then see your current open windows and previously
saved windows. You can save open windows, or restore saved ones. You can also
delete previously saved windows.


8. Turn off the lights
Turn OFF the Lights is a fantastic little extension that will take YouTube videos and darken the entire screen around the video leaving your video lit up! The focus will be solely on the video you want to show the students in your classroom! No distractions! The entire page will be darkened, so you can watch the video as if you were in the cinema. Click again and the page will return back as normal. Look at this before and after comparison.


9. Awesome screenshot
This is a great annotation tool. With this tool you can capture the whole page or any portion, and annotate it with rectangles, circles, arrows, lines and text, blur sensitive info, etc.


10. Watch Doc
This is a useful extension if you collaborate a lot on Google Docs. It could be very useful to a teacher. It notifies you if your Google Docs change. If you have shared some documents with others on Google Docs you normally have to go and check whether anyone's modified them. This Chrome extension will list your shared documents that were updated since the last time you have viewed them right from your browser bar.


Well, there we go – ten Chrome extensions that are among my favourites. But let me tell you – the list doesn’t stop there! These innovative extensions really are an awesome addition to a browsing extension. Why not try a few of them?

Classroom uses
1. With more and more students going online in class, these extensions could really assist students with what they need to do in a task right there in the browser.
2. The time-saving ability that these extensions bring to a classroom is amazing.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

30 days of Google #1: Get to know the Chrome browser


Today I am starting a series of 30 posts about Google tools that I just love! Having recently returned from the Google Teacher Academy in New York and still basking in the memory of it all, I thought a 30 day series in conjunction with a short free online SchoolNet course on Google products would be very apt.  (Oh New York! I can hardly believe that thriving metropolis is being ravashed by Hurricane Sandy.)  To get back to Google products, for me there is no better place to start than the Chrome browser.  Have you tried Google Chrome? I have three browsers installed on my computer (Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox) but Google Chrome has fast become my firm favourite because it is so much more than a browser. Not only is it fast but all these amazing extensions make it a BRILLIANT surfing experience. 

How can I get started with Chrome?
I met so many technology legends at the Google Teacher Academy, one of whom is Amy Meyer of ‘Fried Technology’ fame. I learned so much from her – she was actually one of the Lead Learners as they were called in charge of a group of 6. I really couldn’t explain Chrome better than her. Just tune in to the screencast video below – you will be amazed at what this browser can achieve.  Amy (@friEdTechnology) calls her presentation ‘Google Chrome tips and tricks’.  This is a very good start to getting to know Chrome – but it also shows other aspects that I didn’t know about although I was a Chrome user. 

If you haven't tried Chrome, why not download it to your computer and explore a little? Try following all the steps in Amy's screencast. The great thing about Chrome is that when you sign in it syncs with all your devices and all the extensions are available on each one. 

In the next post I will show you some of the Google extensions that will make your life (and your students' lives) so much easier, right there in your browsing experience. I’ll start with my favourites!  The sign up form for SchoolNet’s short free online Google course for our South African teachers will also be posted tomorrow.  

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Windows 8 is launched at Eunice High School in Bloemfontein

Introducing Eunice High School
Eunice was the first school in South Africa to be selected for the Microsoft Innovative Schools programme several years back. After that their principal, Paul Cassar, was the first South African educator to be featured on Vice President of Microsoft - Antony Salicito’s blog ‘Daily EdventuresAntony Salicito’s 365-day look at global heroes'. (Take a read by clicking on the image below). So it is not surprising that Eunice would take the initiative of launching Windows 8 in the innovative way you'll read about in this post!


The Windows 8 launch at Eunice High School
Windows 8 was launched on Friday 26 October at Eunice High School in front of 700 eager Grade 8-11 girls, with Anthony Salcito, VP for Microsoft Education, skyping in to talk to the group. Eunice is a government school in Bloemfontein and is part of the Microsoft Global Innovative Schools programme. The event kicked off with a demo of Windows 8, highlighting exciting new functionality and ways that Windows 8 can help teachers and learners. The girls had to get involved in the demo by helping to create a decorated photo taken of the assembly using our webcam and the app “Fresh Paint”. We emailed this off to Anthony to welcome him to South Africa and Eunice School.

Welcome note from the learners
Anthony Salcito on Skype

 Anthony shares his thoughts
Anthony undertook an immense commitment to spend 24 hours skyping into classrooms and assemblies around the world as part of the Windows 8 launch in the education space. Following the demo we connected to Skype and Anthony shared his thoughts on how technology can support education and more interactive teaching and learning approaches. He fielded around 10 questions from girls and teachers who were eager to hear his comments and ideas on how Microsoft is supporting developing countries, what makes Windows 8 special, how Microsoft works with students and ways that technology can bring learning to life.

Mr Cassar (principal) and Ms Singh (teacher) asking questions

Skyping with Anthony Salcito
Angela from Microsoft chatting to the girls
Thank you for the great chat Anthony!
 The Skype chat trended on Twitter
The event was a great success and the school felt enormously proud to be part of a Microsoft global launch. The #microsofteducation hashtag trended in South Africa with all the girls' tweets on Anthony’s talk and Windows 8! A more comprehensive list of the tweets can be seen at this URL: Eunice tweets about Anthony Salcito and Windows 8.
We look forward to seeing the new ways that the teachers and leaners incorporate Windows 8 into their activities.