This article was last updated on August 20, 2012
The following set of downloads comprise the 2012 About.com Student Browser Package, a compilation designed to make this year's quest for knowledge as exciting and pain-free as possible. These free educational apps and extensions fine-tune your Google Chrome browser into a virtual powerhouse.
Nowhere on this Earth will you find more distractions than within the great virtual landscape that is the World Wide Web. With thousands upon thousands of time-wasting activities available at the click of a mouse, it is all too easy for even the most regimented student to succumb to these potentially grade-affecting pitfalls. This is where the StayFocusd extension comes to the rescue, acting as your guide in the storm of memes and viral videos. Featuring a multitude of easily configurable settings, StayFocusd can be tailored towards each individual's weak spots when it comes to getting sidetracked. Included is the ability to block access to specific content, as well as entire sites, for the duration that you specify. If you want to ensure that only five minutes of your supposed study window is spent reading Twitter updates, StayFocusd will step in and throw you out when your time is up; forcing you to get back to work!
It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. My favorite quote from Julius Caesar, and perhaps its most motivational, this Shakespeare nugget is one of many that have transcended the test of time. Those students required to study the legendary playwright's works, as well as those seeking to learn more about one of history's most influential writers, will benefit from downloading this Chrome app. Shakespeare's Monologues lets you search a database containing a wonderful anthology of performance and audition monologues.
Old school writing at its finest, this Chrome app provides a workspace containing what is essentially nothing but your words. Coined by its creators as being "distraction-free", Writer comes as close to the typewriter experience as you can get in a browser, minus the headaches of paper jams and fading ink ribbons. Worthy of even the most seasoned scribes, this app offers more than just a taste of nostalgia. Eliminating all of the extraneous stuff such as formatting toolbars, rollover help windows, talking paper clips, and everything else that has slowly invaded our space over the years, Writer's minimalist approach is extremely appealing - enough so that I wrote a large portion of this article using the app.
No matter the subject area, chances are that you are going to have to do a lot of typing. Whether writing a report or researching on the Web, being a slow typist can turn a half hour project into an all-night affair. Improving your speed and accuracy on the keyboard can be a tedious and boring process. TypingClub adds levity to this sometimes intimidating task by turning it into a motivational game, one which tends to show significant progress in just a couple of weeks. The time and effort put into enhancing this skill now will almost certainly pay back huge dividends in the future, making this Chrome app a must-have for the typing-challenged among us.
There is a veritable smorgasbord of proven techniques when it comes to learning a new language, each taking a different approach to help you absorb such a multifaceted subject. A tactic that has gained notoriety is one in which all subjects are taught to a student in a language other than their own. The Language Immersion for Chrome extension takes a page from this book, rendering choice words on your favorite websites in one of over five dozen tongues. Hovering your mouse cursor over one of these words prompts Chrome to pronounce the word for you, and clicking on it immediately switches its display to English. The level of immersion is completely up to you, and can be raised accordingly as your comfortability level grows. As is the case with all educational practices, language immersion does not work for every student. However, if you are learning a new language, it is certainly worth a try.
An old but effective memorization technique, using flash cards to study has always been a staple for students from all walks of life. As education as a whole makes the transition from pen and paper to digital, it is apropos that this proven method comes along for the ride. The Flash Cards app for Chrome features a bevy of topics for all grade levels, and makes an excellent aide for individual subjects, standardized test preparation, as well as mastering a new language.
An excellent collaborative tool centered around the notes that you take in class, Studyers provides some order to the chaos of multiple notebooks containing what can sometimes amount to a random stream of consciousness. Not only does this Chrome app let you organize your notes, including drawings, graphs, and charts, but it also provides the ability to share these items with classmates. Having access to your own well-arranged notes, as well as those of others, offers an advantage not easily available in the world of pen and pad. Studyers is one Chrome app that scholars of all ages should take advantage of.
This Chrome app launches a website rich with materials centering around ancient history, ranging from images of BC-era coins to in-depth articles detailing rulers of now-extinct societies. Created and maintained by a passionate community of 10,000+ users, this virtual tome is an excellent resource for history students of all levels.
There aren't many disadvantages to researching a topic on the Web, as opposed to combing through stacks of books and periodicals to find what you are looking for. One time-honored practice that seemed to have slipped through the cracks in the Internet age was copying and clipping specific articles, excerpts, photos, etc. This useful, and sometimes crucial, method of gathering information is lost no more, thanks to applications and extensions like this one. Evernote Web Clipper, which requires a free Evernote account, lets you clip URLs, images, and even full pages from right within Chrome's toolbar or its right-click context menu. These clippings are then saved to your notebook, along with optional tags and comments. This extension is a must-have for today's Web-savvy learner.
Created by the Google Images team, this extension provides the ability to search the Web for other instances of a specific image, as well as those considered to be similar by Google's internal algorithms. This new and innovative way of searching the Web will come in handy more often than you may realize at first, making Search by Image a worthwhile companion to your daily studies.