Monday, October 9, 2017

Make Web Pages Easier to Read with Mercury Reader Chrome Extension

When you or your students are reading online for information, a typical web page can look a lot like this:

Reading online can be complicated by all of the
extraneous elements we find on web pages.


There is a tool that can help make reading for information online a less distracting task. It is called Mercury Reader, and it is an extension that can be used in your Chrome web browser.

When you install Mercury Reader, you can click on it to remove all of the extraneous information from a web page you are trying to read. Here is a side-by-side comparison of what an article on CNN.com looks like without Using Mercury Reader, and what it looks like when the extension is being used.



Benefits of Mercury Reader

  • Easy to toggle on and off.
  • Takes away extraneous and possibly distracting information such as ads or links to content which might not be related to the content being read.
  • Allows the reader to adjust font size and style for easier reading.
  • Allows reader to choose a theme which puts white print on a dark background. 
  • Can aid dyslexic or visually impaired readers who are reading content on the web.

How to Use Mercury Reader

Below is a 4 1/2 minute tutorial I recorded which shows how helpful Mercury Reader can be while still being very simple to use. I hope this tool will be of benefit to you and your students. Please take time to comment on this post if you decide to try Mercury Reader or if you have other tips for making reading on the web easier.







All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Please see specifics on my re-use policy before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Improve Online Reading Comprehension with a Highlight & Right-Click!

Chances are you or your students come across words you don't understand when reading on the web. Try as you might to discern the word's meaning using context clues, sometimes the necessary info just isn't there, or you are focused on the task at hand without adequate time to figure out what the word is. There's a super easy and quick way to figure out an unfamiliar word or term you come across online if you are using Google Chrome.

Just Highlight & Right-Click!

Click This GIF to View a Larger Demo of the
Highlight/Right-Click Process
A few minutes ago, I was reading an interesting article on how to get yourself or others to change their mind when I came across a word I was not familiar with: Schadenfreude. So, I did this:
  • Double-clicked the word to select/highlight it.
  • Right-clicked the word and selected Search Google for "Schadenfreude".
  • Read the definition in the new tab that opened up.
  • I also clicked the sound icon under the word to hear how it is pronounced.
    After getting an idea of what the word meant, I returned back to the tab with the article I was reading and carried on.

    Train Yourself & Teach Your Students to Use This Trick

    I encourage you to train yourself and teach your students to use this quick trick for improving vocabulary and comprehension. Teaching a new skill in context when the need arises helps transfer it to long-term learning. Quick and natural in context ways to teach this trick include:
    • When you and your students are discussing online information which you are projecting in front of a group or the whole class, highlight and right-click a word your students seem unfamiliar with.
    • When a student approaches you to ask what a word they are reading online means, talk them through the highlight and right-click trick

    I hope this tip has been helpful! If you know other quick tech tricks that enhance learning, please share in the comments below, so we can all learn together.

    Pin Me! The graphic above is perfect for saving to Pinterest!





    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Please see specifics on my re-use policy before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Thursday, July 20, 2017

    Shortcut for Adding Hyperlinks to Google Docs & Slides (Sheets & Drawings, Too!)

    Have you ever discovered that something you usually do with a tech tool in multiple steps can be done far more easily/efficiently in fewer steps? It happens to me all the time! Sometimes, it's just not knowing there's always been another way, and sometimes, a new feature is added to tool and we are just so used to doing things one way we never notice the improvement.

    A recent example for me: I discovered while helping facilitate a session on G Suite Basics earlier this summer that adding hyperlinks in Google Docs and Slides (and Sheets and Drawings) has been massively streamlined. Now, if this is old news to you and it's been around for years, please don't tell me. I don't want to know how long I've been missing out on this shortcut!

    Up until recently, I've been adding links to Google Docs and Slides the same way I always have:
    1. With doc/slideshow open in one Chrome tab, open another Chrome tab.
    2. Search for site I want to link to in new Chrome tab.
    3. Click on site to open it.
    4. Copy URL from browser address bar.
    5. Go back to doc/slideshow.
    6. Highlight words I want to make into a link.
    7. Right-click on words I want to make into a link.
    8. Select Link from the menu that pops up.
    9. Paste URL into link box and apply.
    So, that's nine steps. Not a big deal or burdensome until you realize you could do it in far fewer steps in many cases! I finally noticed it this summer when watching multiple people add links to docs and slides during a professional learning session. 

    Here is the new shortcut method I discovered:
    1. Highlight the words I want to link in the doc or slide.
    2. Right-click the highlighted words and choose Link from the menu that pops up.
    3. NOTICE the opportunity to pick from a couple of sites Google nicely found for me. Or search from right within the link dialog for the site I want if the suggestions aren't quite right.
    4. Preview the suggested sites if needed. See my quick tutorial video below for a demo of this.
    5. Click on the link I want to use.
    6. Click Apply. DONE!

    That's three to four fewer steps, and a whole lot less clicking and tab switching!!!!

    NOTE: It's still best practice to search ahead of time for quality online resources to link to, as this shortcut method only gives two results to choose from. The shortcut method works well if you are fairly certain of what you're looking for.

    SECOND NOTE: This shortcut process works in Sheets and Drawings, too!

    Because it often helps me to see a demo of a new-to-me skill, I made a short tutorial video on how the process works. You can view it below. I hope you find as much benefit from this shortcut as I have!









    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Please see specifics on my re-use policy before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.
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