Systems of Support Supporting Educator Excellence through Technology and Strategy

What are Browser Extensions?

If you have an iPad or other “i-device” you are probably familiar with apps. “Apps” is short for applications that provide additional functionality to your device. There are thousands of apps ranging from supports for weather and business to games and education. We frequently discuss and recommend apps in sessions and here on our blog.

Web browsers, such as Google Chrome and Internet Explorer have similar supports that you may not be as familiar with. Instead of apps, these supports are referred to as extensions. Extensions basically “extend” the capabilities of your browser. Most browsers have their own store where you can find extensions for a variety of purposes. For example, to access the Google Chrome Web Store simply visit chrome.google.com/webstore. You can search for specific extensions or browse through categories ranging from Education to News and Entertainment.

A few of my favorite extensions include:

Clearly – I mentioned this Chrome extension in a previous post on Removing Clutter from Websites. Clearly allows you remove all the clutter from a website and just display the text in an easy to read format. It includes highlighting and annotation tools, font size options and more. Very useful for students who are often confused or distracted by ads and other links on web pages.

Read&Write for Google  – This freemium Chrome extension brings accessibility to the Google Docs environment. While millions of students use Google Apps for Education, assistive technology has been slow to catch up. This innovative extension from Texthelp allows students to have Text-to-Speech, vocabulary supports, translation and more embedded directly in Google Docs, PDFs and other file types access through Google Drive.

Evernote Web Clipper – I use Evernote to remember everything. It contains all of my notes from meetings, blog posts, session descriptions and more. The Evernote web clipper extension adds a button to my web browser and allows me to “clip” any website or article I find online and add it to my Evernote library. I find it to be much more useful than bookmarking a page because Evernote goes everywhere I go. It is available as a download for PCs and Macs, as an app for the iPhone and iPad, and can even be accessed directly from the web on other computers.

The purpose of this post was to provide a quick overview of web extensions. I find that participants in sessions are often confused about the topic so hopefully this post will help to clear things up. We will be discussing specific extensions in the future for a variety of purposes and hope that this post will serve as a foundation to what’s to come.

About Jason Carroll

Jason has trained thousands on Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning concepts throughout the United States and beyond. His focus is on integrating research based practices into the work he does and helping others ensure that what they are doing works. He specializes in assisting people to bridge the gap between operation of technology and actual implementation. Jason is a published author, has taught Instructional Technology and Universal Design for Learning at the University level, and spends a significant amount of time on e-Learning and blended learning initiatives. He is a graduate of the Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) from California State University at Northridge and holds a Masters in Business Administration. Currently Jason serves as Product Marketing Manager for North America at Texthelp Inc. where he oversees new product launches and speaks nationally on a variety of Assistive Technology topics.

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