Thursday, November 1, 2018

Google Slides Extensions & Add-Ons

In the words of Kasey Bell and Matt Miller of The Google Teacher Podcast, Google Slides is the Swiss Army Knife of educational technology tools, a tool that goes way beyond simple presentations.  That being said, there is a bevy of extensions and add-ons that pair with Google Slides to make it work even better for you.  While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, here are a few of my favorites that I use on a regular basis when building presentations, visuals, and activities in Google Slides.  

A sample of what you get with the
Pear Deck for Slides add-on!
If you have ever met me or read previous posts in my blog history, it is not a secret that I am a big fan of Pear Deck.  However, for the uninitiated, Pear Deck is a program that turns ordinary presentations into interactive ones that incorporate live questions and other formative assessments, designed for 100% student engagement.  Pear Deck has teamed up with Google and released a couple of great add-ons and extensions in recent months that make Pear Deck even better!

Pear Deck for Google Slides:  This is an add-on that is accessible via the add-ons menu in Google Slides.  Rather than creating presentations on peardeck.com, Pear Deck is now fully functional with Google Slides.  The add-on includes numerous slide templates for the beginning of class, during class, end of class, and critical thinking.  Want to make your own interactive slides?  The Pear Deck add-on allows for that as well, giving you numerous options, such as multiple choice, text response, and if you have a premium account, Draggable and drawing slides!  And while I am certainly biased as a Pear Deck Certified Coach, I firmly believe that the premium account is 100% worth the results of 100% student engagement.  Download the Pear Deck for Google Slides add-on through Google Slides, and learn more about Pear Deck at www.peardeck.com.

Sometimes, you need a random, unrelated gif in your
presentation.  Thanks, Giphy for being awesome!
Pear Deck Power Up:  If you are like me when building presentations, you love to put in animated gifs to emphasize a concept or bring a little humor to the content.  In the past, if trying to put a gif in a Pear deck presentation, it either would not upload into the presentation or it would freeze and turn into a static image file.  With the Pear Deck Power Up extension for Google Chrome, now you can place your animated gifs into a Pear Deck presentation!  But wait, there's more!  Not only do your gifs work, but animations you have built into Google Slides and any videos that are embedded that you want to autoplay will also work exactly as they are intended to!  To use the extension, you simply add it to Chrome and whenever you present a Pear Deck presentation, the extension will automatically go to work for you!  Get this great extension here!

Screencastify for Google Slides:  If you are into screencasting, you are most likely familiar with Screencastify.  If not, Screencastify is a free extension that you can add to Chrome that allows you to record your screen with voiceovers.  For a yearly fee of about $25, you can get the premium version that allows you to record longer videos, make edits to your screencasts, and a host of other options.  One of the best things about Screencastify is that your videos automatically save to a folder in Google Drive when you are done.  If you aren't using Screencastify yet, go ahead and add it to Chrome here.  Once you have done that, you are ready for the add-on for Slides!

The add-on is the definition of convenience and time-saving!  Once you add it from the add-ons menu in Slides and open it, it brings all of the screencasts that you have created into a side menu.  From there, with a single click, you can add your videos to a Google Slide!  While this is possible without the add-on, it takes a few more clicks to get your videos to your slide.  And who amongst us doesn't want to save time? 

Closed Captioning for Google Slides:  This is a relatively new feature that I have only used in testing trials; I have not used this in class or in a presentation to teachers yet.  However, from what I have seen using the tool thus far is amazing: when you switch a Google Slides file into presentation mode, your options for advancing slides, notes, pointer, and now, closed captioning!  When you turn on closed captioning, Slides will display what you are saying during your presentation on the screen.  Now, this isn't perfect, it makes its fair share of mistake.  It also cannot distinguish between two people talking, and if you have students near your computer microphone that are speaking, it will pick them up as well.  However, for those that may be able to see you and your presentation but not necessarily hear you and for students that are deaf or hard of hearing, this is a great new feature to accommodate your students! 

Look for this icon!
Explore Button:  This isn't an extension or an add-on, but it is something that I rely on almost daily in Google Slides.  In the bottom right corner of Slides, there is a button that looks like a speech bubble with a star in it.  When you click on this button, it opens up all sorts of greatness!  It will show you what your slide will look like in a different slide layout for starters.  Then by using the search function, you can search for articles and websites on your search criteria, images, and even your Google Drive.  With the click of a button, you can add links of the websites, images, and open files in your Drive where you grab items to put in your Slides file. 

Look for this too!
Calendar, Keep, & Tasks:  Again, another feature that isn't an extension or add-on, but a useful tool nonetheless.  Along the right side of the screen when you open Slides will give you small icons that link to Google Calendar, Keep, and Tasks.  Calendar and Tasks, when you click on them, open up your Calendar and your Tasks.  This is useful if you have put reminders or events in your calendar that you may want to put into your presentation.  As for Tasks, it is very similar to Calendar.  There isn't a way to drag anything you have in Calendar or Tasks into Slides, but if you need to see items there, you don't have to open another tab to open Calendar and Tasks.  However, the Keep function is very useful.  In Google Keep, you can save notes, images, links, and so much more.  When clicking on the Keep link in Slides, it opens your Keep notepad up along the right side.  From there, you can drag items directly into Slides without copying and pasting.  This is especially useful for those moments when you are out and about and think of something great to put in a presentation but you are unable to at the moment.  You simply make a note, then drag it into Slides at a later time!

Photos to Slides:  When doing a little research for this post, I stumbled upon an add-on called Photos to Slides.  It had the Google Photos logo, so I clicked on it to see what it was.  When installing this add-on, it allows users to upload albums from Google Photos into Google Slides, where Slides automatically creates a slide for each photo in the album.  I did a test run with it, and in about 2 minutes, it created a presentation of about 50 slides, one photo per slide!  I can see a running photo gallery by using the publish to the web function in Google Slides, I can see a teacher uploading photos of historical sites, geometric shapes in nature, and so many more possibilities using this add-on!  My experience with it is very short, but I'm definitely going to try this add-on more!

Hopefully, you gained something new about Google Slides out of this post.  Feel free to share other add-ons, extensions, or creative ways that you use Google Slides in your life by a quick comment, a tweet, or an email!

Until next time... sorry, I couldn't resist another relatively unrelated gif (with a hard G)!