5 EdTech hacks that changed my life

Sometimes things on the Internet change society…

Take the Rick Roll for example (or just Rick Astley, in general):


The following Internet-based things (in no particular order) have changed my life as a teacher. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

  1. Hotkeys that open the most recently closed tab in Chrome
  2. Google Docs Explore Tool, formerly known as the Research Tool
  3. Canvas SpeedGrader
  4. YouTube videos at 1.5x speed
  5. Symbaloo


(so keep reading!)

  • In Google Chrome: “ctrl + shift + t” reopens the most recently closed tab.
    • Did you get a little click happy on the x’s? No problem! These hot keys will shave off time spent going through your history to find that video of fainting goats you just watched so you can do your part in making it go viral again.
  • Google Docs has a research tool. Oh wait, they updated and now it is called the “Explore Tool.” (click the link for Alice Keeler’s lesson suggestion)
    • Tired of having a plethora of tabs open? Just to complete a task or assignment, you could have opened Google Drive, the Google Doc you are editing, apastyle.org (because I used to be a scientist), plus a few resources for your research. No more! Use the little explore button, do a quick Google search, and add a properly formatted citation of the style of your choosing all from the safety and comfort of your Google Doc. Don’t make your life harder than it needs to be. After all, you can grow ideas in the garden of your mind rather than spend your life trying to figure out MLA format.
  • If you work for a school system that uses Canvas, I sure hope you use SpeedGrader. If you have students generate a fair amount of online work and you have access to Canvas, give it a try. I replaced an unwieldy system of Google Form drop boxes and piles of emails by publishing my class on Canvas and creating assignments for anything to be submitted online. That alone made my life easier. Then I discovered SpeedGrader. It’s glorious.
  • Watching student-submitted video projects is not exactly my idea of a fun time, but my husband recently suggested I watch them on 1.5x or 2x speed while grading them. When you have a virtual pile of videos to grade, this makes it go much faster!
  • Finally, Symbaloo. It’s like your phone screen, but for bookmarked websites. Remember that aforementioned problem of having way too many tabs open for you to be considered actually productive? This solves it. It gives you quick access to the links for your school email, calendar, website, and literally anything else you can think of that possesses a URL. Is it actually necessary to leave all those windows open ALL DAY LONG? Probably not; and Symbaloo can help. My homepage remix is shown below:


I even have things grouped by: what I most frequently need (the top row); STEM coordinator business in a corner; my daily class needs (color-coded, of course); and things to help me get by (Pandora and Google a Day). Voilà!

Thanks for reading! I hope I gave you a new teaching/life hack, or at least made you smile today. If you didn’t smile, you either didn’t click any links or we have absolutely nothing in common. I appreciate your readership anyway. Take care, teacher friends.


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