Friday, July 29, 2016

Chrome Extensions and Add-Ons I Like or Why Chromebooks Rock

Back when the Chromebook was just coming out, many people thought the google apps for school were just not robust enough in comparison to the Apple operating system and Windows. I remember teachers and parents complaining that Microsoft's Office Suite was far superior to its Google counterparts. In the face of some of these complaints and concerns,  my school eventually chose the iPad over the Chromebook.  At the time, a solid case could be made. However, in the four years since that decision , many of the arguments against Chromebooks no longer can be made. I am not alone in feeling this way. 

Google has made vast improvements. One of the ways they have made these improvements is an ever increasing array of extensions and add-ons. This mass array of free software (not so on iPad) in my mind gives Chromebooks the edge in addition to the reasons cited above in the article. I use these free apps and extensions all the time.

Here are some of the extensions I use the most:

  •  EdPuzzle. EdPuzzle lets me quickly edit YouTube videos for class. I can even embed questions for students to answer.
  • Snagit. A simple screenshot capture tool. I use this so often.
  •  Draftback. This one is a game changer. This basically takes a movie of a paper being in written. Imagine meeting with a students and replaying at a slightly faster speed them writing their papers? There are powerful learning and teaching moments in doing that. Its very viewing promotes metacognition in the student.
  •  Flip It. Works in conjunction with Flipboard. I can easy and quickly add articles I like into any Flipboard magazine.
  •  The QR Code Extension. It instantly lets me make a QR code of any webpage I'm on.

Google "best chrome extensions" and you'll be amazed at the seemingly endless amount of functionality you can add to your Chrome experience.

     Add-ons, on the other hand, add functionality within a particular google app such as sheets or docs. Below is a screenshot of my add-ons in google docs. Admittedly, it is blurry, but you can see how to access add-ons. It is right there in the menu bar.
  Within docs,  I really like Mindmeister. It is a great mapping tool for writing.  My list also includes EasyBib, Easy Accents (great when trying to type in a different language) and ProWriting Aid. 
   Within sheets, Doctopus is a great tool for editing student work. I've also used the SiteMaestro add-on to share google site a common but individualized google site with students. 

   I've shifted from being slightly in favor of iPads as the best tool for students to overwhelmingly feeling that Chromebooks are the best tool. Add-ons and Extensions are a significant reason why I feel that way.  

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