Teaching Tool: Turn Any Website into an Interactive Virtual Lesson

With one simple Chrome Extension, you can easily turn any website into an interactive virtual lesson- in minutes! Highlight text, insert questions, initiate whole class discussion, include videos and even embed Google Forms! It is like a miracle, and I am hooked.  

The Chrome Extension is called Insert Learning. This post will walk you through how to use the tools (it is super easy!), share it with your students,  and provide some lesson ideas for how you can use Insert Learning in your classroom. I will also go over the handful of limitations I have found. 

Step 1 for turning any Webpage into an Interactive Virtual Lesson:

Open your Chrome browser (if you do not have Chrome, you can install it here). Go to Chrome Extensions web store and search for Insert Learning (search bar is in the top left corner). Download the extension. 

Once you do, a little purple ‘IL’ icon will appear at the top right of your browser window. You can click on this while on any website and immediately begin making an interactive virtual lesson.

Or, start from your Insert Learning dashboard by clicking Create.

Looking for some great ready-made lessons? The dashboard has a list of teacher produced lessons that you can use right away! Find them by grade and/or subject by clicking the Private Library tab.

Step 2: Choose a webpage for your interactive virtual lesson! 

Don’t worry if it is word and content heavy – you are going to break up the text with interactive elements! 

Once you have found a good website, click that little IL icon. The Insert Learning toolbar will pop up on the left side of your screen. 

Now the fun can start!

To insert a question:

Click on the question mark in the IL toolbar, then click the paragraph above where you want your question to appear. Type your question! Notice there is a drop down menu that allows you to choose common questions. You can also assign points to the question. Click the green create button.

Notice now that by clicking inside your question, you can make it a multiple choice question!

Add whole-class discussion:

Choose the icon that looks like two conversation bubbles, click a paragraph in the web page. Here you can type a discussion prompt for students to answer. They will see each other’s responses here too, whereas when you add a question students will only see their own answers.

To highlight:

Highlight particular parts of a paragraph by clicking the icon that looks like a pencil. After making the highlight, you can click the highlighted section to change its color and even add a comment. 

Insert highlight and discussion questions into your interactive virtual lesson.

Insert a video or other embedded content:

Click the icon that looks like a sticky note, then click a paragraph in the website. A box appears that you can type a simple message into, or instructions.

OR! You can paste a YouTube link, and the video will appear inside the webpage.

OR!! Make your own video! Notice the tiny video camera icon inside the sticky note. Click on that and it will allow you to make a video clip of your own to add into the website! 

OR!!! (sorry, I am getting excited) Paste any embed code for other applications – like ThingLink, Sutori, Padlet or a Google Form! ←- my favorite!

Related: Use Padlet as a tool to teach a digital lesson.

To get the embed code for a Google Form, click the share button on the form and then choose the embed tab, copy the code, and paste it into the Insert Leaning sticky note. Learn how to embed just about anything else by clicking on the Resources tab in the Insert Learning dashboard. 

What do Students See?

Click the three dots in the IL toolbar for a handful of helpful options. Here you can switch to ‘student view’ and see how things will look from their end.

Of course, they can see and answer your questions. Notice too that students have a slightly different toolbar. They can add highlights (with comments) and use sticky notes. This means they can add their own comments that only you can see.

A few more fun lesson Ideas!

  • Have students use the make-your-own-video option to explain or demonstrate what they have learned!
  • Students highlight new vocabulary words, insert a question box that asks them to define the word
  • Ask them to find and insert a video clip from YouTube that summarizes or expands on a topic in the reading
  • Create a ‘teacher’ account that allows students to make their own Insert Learning lesson that they can then share with the rest of the class (change the password when you grade it so students can not go in and see other’s grades!)
Students can respond with their own video in your interactive virtual lesson.

Teachers – You will love this:

As students are adding their answers and responses, you can see them in real time. For the class discussion questions, if a student says something inappropriate, you can make the comment invisible to other students by clicking a small cross-out icon in the top right of their comment. 

A bar will appear in the top left of the screen where you can choose to see the ‘whole class’ responses or pick an individual student. By clicking the student, you will see their work only.

View and grade student work by clicking the icon in the upper left corner.

Send personal feedback to students to help them if they are struggling with the content as they work though it! Your feedback will appear on their end right away. Students will also get an email of your feedback, in case they are not still on the website when you send it.

Give this a try by going into Student Mode and answering a few questions – then going back to teacher mode to see how it looks!

Step 3: Sharing your new Interactive Virtual Lesson with your students:

Share your lesson by clicking the IL logo at the top of the purple Insert Learning tool bar. It can be shared directly to your Google Classroom or Microsoft Team. Class lists will automatically sync up, and Insert Learning will make and populate your class lists, which you can access from your Insert Learning dashboard

Alternatively, you can make Classes directly from the Insert Learning dashboard. Each will have its own unique class code which you can provide to students. After logging on for the first time using the class code, they will show up in your class. Then students will have access to all the lessons you have assigned that class.

Here is the student view of a sample lesson that I made to play around with. You will need this class code: 62y3g1. Feel free to answer the questions and use the tools just as a student would!  

Everything you need to see and manage your lessons, student work, and classes is on the Insert Learning dashboard. Once you have graded an assignment, you even have the option of downloading the data as a CSV to make loading into your gradebook easier.

Related: Guide to making your own Bitmoji virtual classrooms for communication with your students this year!

Limitations of Insert Learning:

There are a handful of limitations that I have found with Insert Learning. The primary one is that it will not work on an iPhone or Tablet, but will work on any computer (Mac, PC, Chromebook).

Easily turn any website into an interactive virtual lesson!

Also, while Insert Learning claims to work on “any webpage” – it will not work on a PDF. This is too bad because many online textbooks are PDFs and I was really hoping I could add some fun interactive bits to one…but alas. 

However it will work on Google Docs that have been published to the web! (inside your Google Doc, click on File → Publish). This opens up some really cool possibilities for interactive virtual lesson creation. Make your own Google Doc of notes, images, videos etc and then embed questions with Insert Learning!

For assessments, the only elements that can be assigned points are the questions. You can not assign points to a discussion response, for example. I get around this problem by posting a ‘question’ below the discussion board which asks students to copy their discussion response and paste it into the answer field. This allows me to assign points, and is also much easier than having to search through the discussion post to find each student’s response.

Finally…like many great things, Insert Learning’s free version is limited. While all features are available, teachers using the free version can only have five lessons. A monthly subscription is eight dollars per month, or pay forty dollars per year (I am not being paid to promote Insert Learning! I just love it!).

Hopefully this post gave you a good head start on using Insert Learning for your own classroom! If you need additional instructions, click here and read through some tutorials and guides!

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