What’s your choice of browser?
Maybe it’s Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, or maybe even…. dare I say it… Internet Explorer? When it comes to a web browser, everyone has their personal preference. My personal choice of browser? Google Chrome.
Steve Johns says that Chrome “allows its users to customize and control their user experience to a degree most other browsers don’t.” One of the other benefits of using Google Chrome is accessing the Chrome Extensions. If you are a Google Chrome user, you have probably had your fair share of using the extensions. Extensions are applications that can be added to your personal Chrome browser to increase accessibility and performance. In order to download a Chrome Extension, you need to:
3. Search for the extension you want to add to your browser.
4. Click “Add to Chrome”.
5. Read and approve the security settings.
6. Access the extension in the browser toolbar after it’s downloaded.
There are endless amounts of Chrome Extensions to choose from to serve whatever purpose you need. For example, in order to add the photos that I used in the instructions above, I used the Chrome Extension called Lightshot– a screenshot tool. It allows you to screenshot the selected area and save to it to your computer and social networks. It also has a drawing and shape tool to add to your picture before you save it.
Along with Lightshot, there are many other extensions that are useful for educators and students. Here are some extensions that I have enjoyed using during my time of online teaching:
A video screen recorder
- It can capture a screen recording of a single tab or your whole screen.
- You can show your face with the embedded camera, or you can simply narrate with your microphone.
- It has a drawing tool and a highlighter when the mouse is clicked.
- It automatically saves to your Google Drive, but it can also be easily downloaded.
- The free version only saves a 5 minute video.
- The video can only be trimmed from the beginning or end. As soon as you want to add more editing to the video, you need to purchase the paid version.
An extension that connects to your Bitmoji character… because who doesn’t love using them in every lesson possible.
- You can easily insert your Bitmoji into Google Docs and Slides.
- Conveniently search for a specific theme or picture to insert into your document.
- You can simply copy and paste your Bitmoji so that you can easily transfer it.
- There are privacy risks since “third-party keyboard apps (including Bitmoji) ask to ‘allow full access’ to operate.”
- If you do not have a Bitmoji account on your phone, the Chrome extension cannot be used.
Google Meet Grid View:
It shows every participant with video in your Google Meet in grid-like squares.
- Once the extension is downloaded, it automatically shows up in your Google Meet settings.
- The extension says that it “does not track any user data”, something that is rare for a Chrome Extension.
- Honestly… it’s a very glitchy extension. There were times that the extension would stop working and I would have to re-install it. However, it’s difficult to host successful Google Meets without it!
- The Chrome store has multiple extensions called Grid View, so make sure you download the correct one.
New Chrome Extensions
I wanted to try out a few new extensions to add to my repertoire. Recently, someone told me about the digital math extension called Equatio. I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with it and can see how it benefits educators and students! Have you ever tried to write a math equation on a Google Doc or Form? It’s not fun! This extension allows you to add complex math symbols into your Google documents seamlessly. You can add your math equations into the “Equation Editor” and even create symbols to add to your documents, as seen in the video below (that I created using Screencastify). This numeracy extension is incredibly convenient to have for teaching and creating math lessons!
Another Chrome Extension that I tried out is called Noisli. I was interested in this extension because it can help with productivity for educators and students. Ever since I started teaching online, I have difficulty remembering to take breaks during the day because I get so focused on the task at hand. With this extension, you can set a timer for yourself and break up your work day. The extension creates nature background “noise” for a calming work environment. The downfall with this extension is that there are limited sounds with the free version. If nature noises help you focus, then the paid Noisli extension might be worth it!
Is It Worth the Risk?
When all is said and done, are Chrome Extensions worth the security risk? That’s something that I ask myself quite often. Every time you download an extension, you have to “agree” to the Terms and Conditions… and sometimes those conditions have to do with tracking your personal data. There are risks to weigh when it comes to using online applications, downloading plug ins and extensions, and browsing on the web. It’s crucial that we focus on not only protecting our own privacy and data, but our students privacy and data as well. Curtis brought up the importance of “getting our students to consent to where their data is going” so that they understand how their information is being used online.
So what now? Should we continue to download Chrome Extensions? In my opinion, yes.