Monday, January 26, 2015

My Favorite Chrome Extensions - Week of January 26, 2015

Here are my picks for the week. 

#1: Video Downloader Professional 
Type: Search Tools (Videos)
Summary: I am not one who downloads a lot of videos. I don't want videos to take up space on my device. I am someone who likes to save videos to watch later and this extension does just that. While you can download videos from the web, you are not permitted to download protected videos or YouTube videos. YouTube restricts the ability to download videos because of copyright infringement, so the Chrome web store has restricted any extension from the ability to do this. I personally love that because it teaches digital citizenship. The part of this extension that I love is being able to create a list of videos that I want to watch later. It will play the saved video from the list which is also another nice feature. The only feature I absolutely wish it had was the ability to share the list with others. 



#2Shortcuts for Google
Type: Productivity
Summary: There are extensions out there that will allow you quick access to Google tools, but most of them do not allow you to tailor the tools for your needs. This extension is great because it allows you to choose from over 250 Google services to put on the list. 




#3: Adblock Plus
TypeProductivity
Summary: This extension is a must have if you are like me and hate those annoying ads. It will block ads and banners on YouTube, Facebook, webmail, and more. 



#4: OpenDyslexic
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension is great for people with dyslexia because it changes web sites into the OpenDyslexic font, so pages are easier to read. 







Saturday, January 24, 2015

Google Translate App: Not Just for Foreign Language Classes

I was honored to be invited as a guest contributor on Friday's Google User Group Hangout Meeting with Eric Curts to talk about the Google Apps for Education Twitter chat that I recently started (#gafechat). The Google User Group is a monthly Hangout on Air that showcases the latest updates that Google has put out in the past month. 

During this meeting I learned about Google's latest update to the Google Translator mobile iOS and Android app. The app can now listen for two languages at a time and translate written text using the camera. Although this is not a new feature, I have to mention that the app does speak the word/phrase as well as show the written text. 

I am going to highlight how to use the app in the context of real classroom examples. Before I do let me start by saying, I know that there is no such thing as a perfect translation tool. I am not suggesting that you go out and write a book in another language using this app. I do however think this is a great tool to be used in an informal setting.

Example 1: Parent/Teacher conferences where no common language is spoken
I used to teach in an area where Spanish was the dominant language spoken by parents. Unfortunately, Spanish is not a strong suit for me and so there was a language barrier. I know I was not alone in this struggle. Using the microphone feature of the app can help eliminate that "uncomfortableness" for both the parents and teacher. There are 90 languages available to choose from and the app will listen for both languages selected so no need to switch back and forth. 

Here are some additional examples of how to use this feature:
  1. Between a student new to the country and teacher/student who doesn't speak the student's language.
  2. A student who is practicing communicating in a foreign language. 
  3. A student who wants to practice pronunciations of certain words or phrases. 


Example 2: A student new to the country can use it to help understand the environment around them.

Speaking a foreign language is one thing, but understanding it in written form is another. A new feature of this app is the ability use the camera to instantly translate signs and text. This is feature is available for English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian Spanish.

Here are some additional examples of how to use this feature:
  1. Teacher can put signs around the room and students can check for understanding.
  2. Students can use it to help them study.


Example 3: Students can practice writing in a foreign language.
The text feature is nothing new, but definitely worth mentioning. This is a great way for students to be able to practice writing in a foreign language and getting instant feedback.

Here are some additional examples of how to use this feature:
  1. Teacher can communicate with a student who doesn't speak the language well.
  2. Students can use it as a "texting" platform to practice having a non-verbal conversation.

Again, I am not showcasing this app as a perfect translation tool. But when there is a barrier between two people because of language, this tool can help bring that barrier down. Plus I am finding it so much fun to "play" with.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Receive Daily Email with Schedule of Events

If you use Google Calendar and Gmail you can get a daily email with your days schedule of events. 

The email will arrive approximately 5am every morning, so when you awake you are ready to see your day.

Follow these easy steps to get it set up:
  1. Go to Google Calendar 
  2. Click the drop down next to your calendar
  3. Select edit notifications
  4. Check the box under email and next to Daily Agenda
  5. Click Save.

It is that easy. You will now start to receiving emails with your daily agenda. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Favorite Chrome Extensions - Week of January 19th

Here are my favorite Chrome extensions for the week. The focus is on productivity and saving yourself some time. Let's face it, we can all use some more time. 

#1: Session Buddy
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension allows you to manage your browser all in one place. You are able to see all the tabs you have open in one place, save open tabs and restore them later, organize links by topic and search for them. 

Tab Cloud use to be my favorite browser manager. In my opinion, Session Buddy blows Tab Cloud out of the water. 



#2: Padlet Mini
Type: Productivity
Summary: If you don't use Padlet, I highly suggest you check it out. It is a great web tool that allows people to create 'session' boards with links, images, text, and more. The board can be set up so anyone with access (specific people to public) can post to or just view the board. This is a great tool for collaboration.The Padlet Mini extension allows you to easily post any webpage to one of your Padlet boards. 





#3: Too Long Didn't Read (TLDR)
Type: Productivity
Summary: I can't believe that I have not showcased this extension yet. This is one of my favorite extensions to show people. The title says it all, it takes web articles and shortens them for you. There are 4 different lengths you can choose from: summary, short, medium, and long. This extension is great for students who need modifications or for teachers who don't have time to read the entire thing. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for email....but wouldn't that be nice.



#4: Todoist
Type: Productivity
Summary: This is a simple to-do list that will travel with you anytime you are signed into Chrome. Great for keeping track of all the things you have to accomplish in your life. Create different lists (work, home, etc.), but access them from the same place. 



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Easy Steps to Creating Appointment Slots in Google Calendar

If you are part of a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) district then you have the ability to add appointment slots to your calendar. This feature is awesome! 



Although you have to have a GAFE account to set-up this feature you do not have to have a GAFE account to book an appointment, which means you can share the link with people outside your district's domain.

Here are a few suggestions on why you would want to use this feature:

  • students can sign up for 1-on-1 tutorials
  • teachers can reserve the computer lab
  • teachers can sign up 1-on-1 tech help
  • parents requesting a conference
Follow these quick and easy steps to get started:

Step 1: Open up Google Calendar



Step 2: Switch to Day or Week View (this feature will not work in any other view)

Step 3: Select the date and single click on the time you would like the appointment slot to start. Select Appointment Slots.


Step 4: Click on Edit Details

Step 5: Add the details for the appointment slots.


Step 6: Capture the Appointment Slot URL and share with parents, staff, students via email or link to from a website, Google Classroom, etc. 


That is it! Six easy steps. You can edit the appointment slot the same way you edit a calendar event ~ click on the appointment and select edit details. 



Here is how the appointment slots will appear on your calendar and from the link that people access to book an appointment.
Every time someone books an appointment, you will receive an email. If someone come up you can decline the appointment request and the requester will receive an email. If the requester needs to cancel the appointment he/she can delete it from his/her calendar and it will delete it on your calendar.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Favorite Chrome Extensions for the Week - January 12, 2015

This week doesn't have a particular theme. The first and second extension I just recently learned about and love them! The last two I have know for a while, but never advertised them. They are great extensions, but kind of forgot about because they are the behind the scenes type.  

#1: WOT (Web of Trust)
Type: Search Tools
Summary: This extension is a MUST for teachers and students. The Web of Trust (WOT) extension shows you the credibility of a website based on other users ratings. If the website has a poor rating it will give you a warning pop-up when you go to that site. You have to make the decision to proceed to site in order for the pop-up to disappear. I showcased this extension in my blog post Quick and Easy Tools to Use to Find Credibility of a Website



#2: Capture Webpage Screenshot
Type: Blogging (Photo)
Summary: This is a must have screenshot extension for any device where taking a screenshot is not easy. There is nothing fancy about this extension, but it allows you to quickly capture an entire webpage, the visible portion or a portion of your choosing. You can then choose to save the image as a png, jpeg or pdf. 




#3: Click & Clean
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension does it all. It allows you to see and delete your cache, history, downloads, extensions, and cookies individually or you can click clear private data to delete your cache, history and downloads all at once. Cleaning up your computer every once in a while will help with performance, but remembering all the locations you have to go to do to this can be daunting. With this extension you only have to go to one place to access it all. 


 


#4: LastPass: Free Password Manager
Type: Productivity
Summary: You practically need a password for everything now and every site has a different requirement on length, uppercase, lowercase, numerical, etc. It is so hard to keep track of the passwords. With this extension you only have to remember one because it keeps track of all the rest for you. 



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Quick and Easy Tools to Find Credibility of a Website

Finding credible resources on the web is no easy feat. Anyone with access to the internet can publish information on the web. So, how do you and your students know who to trust? I am going to share some easy and quick tools teachers and students can use to check if a website is credible. 

If you conduct a search on the web for Martin Luther King, Jr. one of the top websites that shows up is martinlutherking.org and next to the title of the site it says 'A True Historical Examination.' A student is going to see the word true and if they are not taught to check credibility they are going to get sucked in. Unfortunately, this site is NOT a true examination and in fact is a false front for a racial organization. 



Here are two quick and easy tools you and your students can use to find out if you can trust a website. 

Tool #1: Easywhois.com The first tool is a website called easywhois. Easywhois.com is a site where you can look up information on who registered the website. 

To conduct a search on easywhois.com enter the website in the search field (leave out the http://www part of the URL).  Make sure it is on whois lookup and hit enter. Any and all information on the site will come up. Use this information to find out more about the author of the site to see if it is in fact a site you can trust.


When you conduct an easywhois search on martinlutherking.org it shows that the site was registered by a man named Don Black and an organization called Stormfront. I did a quick Google search on 'Don Black Stormfront' and found that Don Black is a white supremacist and Stormfront is a white pride organization. I went to the Stormfront website and on the home page it states, "We are a community of racial realists and idealists." Can you really believe a website on Martin Luther King written by a white pride organization? 

It took me a matter of minutes to find out that this website is not one I can trust, nor find credible. I would definitely not recommend this site to students.

Tool #2: WOT (Web of Trust) Chrome Extension
If you know me or follow my blog then you know I am a Chrome extension freak. This is an extension that I recently discovered on Twitter. The WOT extension helps you find out if a website is credible based on user reviews. When you go to a website the WOT extension will turn a specific color. The color will denote the amount of trust this site has been given based on users' ratings.

If you land on a site that has a poor or very poor rating a pop-up will appear giving you a warning. The warning shows you the trustworthiness and child safety rating and lists the issues that other users have with the site. You have to click on the 'go to site' link to bypass the warning. 


You can also click on the WOT extension from any website to see the rating, as well as rate the site yourself. When you give a rating you must give your reasoning for the rating. There are four categories to choose your reasoning from: positive/neutral, questionable, negative, and other users' opinions. 

View site rating from others
Rate the site


WOT also has a website where you can conduct a search, but I love the fact that the extension will warn me when I land on a questionable site. 

Teaching students how to properly conduct research is important and checking the credibility of a site should be a top priority. Prior to students conducting research, give them some credible and not credible websites and ask them to use the above tools to check the sites.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why Every District Should Adopt Google Apps for Education (GAfE)

Google rocks! Such a simple, yet powerful statement. 

I love a company that devotes so much time and energy to provide the educational community with amazing tools all for FREE. I personally think that a law should be passed that requires every district to adopt (and use) Google Apps for Education (GAfE). Okay, so maybe a law is a bit extreme, but I do feel strongly about it. If districts truly understood the power of GAfE I really believe they would run, not walk, to sign up. Oh and did I mention it is free?

Here are some awesome features available only to GAfE districts. 
  • District issued domain
  • Access to Google Classroom (not available with personal account)
  • Every member of a GAfE district has unlimited storage in Drive with the ability to upload a file 5TB in size (personal accounts only get 15GB of storage space)
  • Ability to create appointment slots in Google calendar (not available on personal accounts)
  • Free web-based district email for staff and students with the ability to turn on/off based on grade-levels
  • FERPA compliant (personal account is not FERPA compliant)
I know there are many more reasons, but for the sake of not losing you with too long of a blog, I will stop there. If I can't sell you on Google Apps with those six bullets, well seven if you take free into account, then I am afraid I have no hope. 

If you want more information than I provided, please visit the Google Apps website

Also, there are over 1,000 Authorized Google Education Trainers around the world. The group I am a part of has 1,125 members (trainers) to date and more are getting added everyday. Districts can hire trainers to come help get their systems up and running, train staff, train students, and so much more. Here is a link to the Google Education Directory to help you find a trainer near you. 

Oh and no Google is not paying me to write this blog. I really feel strongly about Google Apps and I had to give a shout out. Not that I would turn down a check from Google...;-)

Google Apps is the way to go. You should get on the bus now because you don't want to get left behind. 


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Favorite Chrome Extensions for the Week - January 5th

I feel like such a slacker. I completely missed posting last week. It wasn't that I purposefully took a week off, it was that the holiday break took over and I just forgot. On top of that I forgot to post this last night, so it is coming a day late. Better late than never...right?!?

This week is a centered around extensions that will motivate, inspire, and create stunning homepages. Big thanks to Robert Heard for sharing a post on Google+ with these four extensions. 


#1: Momentum
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension is awesome. Not only does it give you the current weather (something I always have to know for some reason), but allows you to choose a focus for the day and add todos. I also love the photography and inspiring quotes that are given. 




#2: Dayboard
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension is great for people who want to stay on top of the things that have to do. Start your day by writing down the top 5 things that you want to do that day. Everytime you open a new tab it will remind you of those things. The todos will carry over to the next day in the instance that you have not finished the task. 




#3Card Board
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension is a customizable homepage that is Google specific. You are able to search from the page, see recent downloads or your Google apps. Choose the look by customizing the theme. It is still in beta phase, so there are a few setbacks, but overall it is pretty promising. 




#4: Home 
Type: Productivity
SummaryCustomize your homepage with notifications (Gmail, Google Calendar, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, Facebook), Chrome Apps, recently closed tabs, notes, and more. This is great for those that need or want easy access to multiple things.