Browsing the web for news and information has replaced much of the traditional ways students consume content. Unfortunately the majority of sites these days are filled with ads making it difficult to determine what content is relevant. Even when it is clear what information we should focus on, it’s next to impossible to hold our attention on this information when contstant advertisments our flashing before our eyes.
To rememdy this, several browser extensions have been developed to help remove clutter from our screens. For those not familiar with browser extensions, a browser extension is to a web browser what an app is to an iPad. It extends the capability of the browser. Each browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc…) typically have their own browser extension store where extensions can be added. The extensions are almost always free.
Although several options exist, this post highlights two extensions to consider adding to your browser to help clear up ad filled pages.
Readability – Readability is a web and mobile app that cleans up any web page you visit. To get started, visit the chrome extension store (or whichever browser you are using) and install the readability browser extension. Simply clicking on the extension while viewing a web page will allow you to either view a non-cluttered view of the page or mark it to read later. There is even an option to send the article to your Amazon Kindle. If you choose to save the article for later, you can either visit readability.com and log in to view the article, or download the readability app on your iPhone or other mobile device. With the mobile app you can access your articles in a clear view at any time.
Clearly – Those of you who are evernote users (like myself) will be happy to know that evernote makes a similar extension called clearly. Similar to readability, simply install the extension in your browser and click the icon any time you find yourself looking at a cluttered website. Clearly will instantly show this page in a text only window that is free from distraction.
Bonus – Announcify. One additional extension to consider is Announcify. Similar to Clearly and Readability, Announcify will de-clutter a page, but also adds text to speech functionality. In testing, I found the extension to work mostly well, but did run across a few pages where the extension began reading what appeared to be random parts of the text. If used, I recommend testing it with sites before recommending it to a student.
As always, we encourage others to post similar sites, apps or extensions in the comment section below.