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Jeremy Macdonald: Chrometastic web browsing

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December 13, 2012 09:37 pm

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jeremy macdonald

In my search for a more productive work experience and a more meaningful learning experience for students, I happen upon little things there and there that, for some, can mean lots. I don’t know what browser you’re using, but I’m quite fond of Google Chrome. It provides me with the quickest Internet experience, as well as the most innovative approach to streamlining life, work, and play.

I’ve mentioned Evernote once before in these posts, and I still continue to use it in many ways in and out of the classroom. But Evernote + Chrome is a dream-come-true for a techie like me. In addition to Evernote’s Web Clipper extension for Chrome (which is how I currently save online content for later viewing offline), they also have a nifty little tool called Clearly.

Clearly makes blog posts and websites easier to read, now and later. I often get distracted by ads, side bars and scrolling twitter feeds on sites. Clearly lets me get rid of all that and read just the post. And now Evernote has added text-to-speech for Premium users. It’s pretty darn slick.

There are several other text-to-speech extensions for Chrome, but Clearly is my new favorite. The voice with which it reads has a more natural (feminine) inflection and tone that makes it much easier to understand and follow along. While Evernote Clearly reads your simplified version of a web page to you, you can follow along as it highlights each words as it says it.

There are several classroom and student use possibilities that this provides. The assistive nature of the new text-to-speech feature of Clearly lends itself to helping students who may struggle with on-screen reading or the level of the text that they wish to view. I think this could be a great way for students to listen to their own writing. They can create a blog post and then have it read back to them. It’s amazing what someone hears in their writing that they don’t catch when reading it.

While this is a Premium feature, I highly encourage you to try it out. It’s $45 a year for an individual premium account, and they’ll work with classrooms, cutting down the monthly per-student cost to around $2.50.

DriveYou all are in luck today, because I want to share one more Chrome extension with you. It happens to be one of the latest ways to take advantage of your Google Drive. The extension is called Save to Google Drive. This new extension allows you to right-click to content you find on the Internet and save it directly to your Google Drive.

The other cool thing about this is that it also allows you to cache an entire page as an image file and saves it in your Google Drive (take a look at this example here). There are number of things you can do with the content you save. Whether it’s to use later on for another project or if it’s to have access to content offline in your Drive account. I think Google is getting closer to having myself and many others completely consolidate our storage and productivity into one of their accounts.

I’m curious to know if you would use these, personally or in the classroom. I’ve found them useful, but since the new Save to Google Drive is so new, I am still trying to figure out how this will help students, too. I’d love to hear what you think.

Jeremy Macdonald is a fifth grade teacher and instructional technology coach at Mills Elementary in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Mr. Macdonald’s blog posts appear on the second Thursday of every month. Read his previous posts here. Find more information on Mr. Macdonald on his website at http://www.mrmacnology.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MrMacnology.

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