Blogging Challenge #7: Searching for widgets

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Image created using Comic Life

Activity #7 in the Teacher’s Blogging Challenge has been very timely for those of us with Globalteacher and Globalstudent blog accounts. When I logged into my blog this morning I found that my URL had changed from “brittgow.globalteacher” to “brittgow.global2.vic.edu.au”, but not only that, my header image had disappeared and so had most of my widgets! This is the part of the change required to consolidate globalteacher and globalstudent campuses, still under the umbrella of edublogs, but facilitated by the DEECD.

  1. So, my first step was to reinstate my header image. This image was created using “Irfanview”, free software that I use everyday to resize, crop, rotate and add effects to images. To create a panorama, like the one I have used, you download “Irfanview” then simply select “Create Panorama image” under “Image” and add the selected images from your pictures folder.
  2. Next I wanted to add a Clustermap – because the URL has changed, I need to start from scratch with a new clustermap. I added the HTML code for the new map and the code for the archived image to a “Text Box”. Why do I like my clustermaps so much? Well, they show me where my visitors come from and even though most people who visit don’t leave a comment, the clustermap shows me that lots of people drop by!
  3. The next widget is “Show Yourself” which provides links to lots of other places where my viewers can find me: Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Delicious and Gmail. I noticed lots of people have this information in their “About Me” page, but here it is compact and easy to find.
  4. To add the “Twitter” and “Flickr” widgets I had to activate the Edublogs “Widget pack Plugin” – go to “Plugins” and check “Activate”, and the options should appear in your widgets. (Wow – it sounds like I have learnt to speak Geek!) Now you need to add your Twitter username and select how many tweets you would like to appear.
  5. To add “Flickr” photos is a little more tricky. You need to find the RSS feed, which loooks like the picture below, at the bottom of your Flickr page.RSS feed If you click on the icon, it will give you an API adress that you can copy and paste into the Flickr widget. Then select how many photos you would like to display.
  6. The last step was to add my nomination badge for the Edublogs awards – something I am particularly proud of. Sue Waters has a special trick for adding images to the sidebar in your blog. I have copied her method below:

“The easiest method is just open up a new post (Post > Add New). Grab the image URL and insert the image into the post using the Add An Image Icon. For the box that says Link image to you just add the URL of the page you want to link to. Once you’ve added all those details just click Insert into Post – to add the image to your post. Presto! Your visual Editor has just written the HTML code for you. Now just click on HTML tab and copy all of the HMTL code then paste into a text widget.”

I’m loving Anne’s metaphors for different parts of the blog and widgets really do give your blog legs – they link your blog with other blogs in your blogroll and with your visitors in Clustermaps and Revolver maps.  Some people don’t like the distractions of flashing, glittering and revolving widgets in the side bar, but students enjoy personalising their blogs in this way. So whether you choose a minimalist approach to accessories or go the full bling, widgets are a useful tool for linking your site with others and showing a little more about yourself.

What are your favourite widgets? Which do you think are most popular with students?

18 comments

  1. Pingback: What Widget Will You Use? | imstillearning
  2. Denise Krebs

    Britt,
    Thanks for all the good explanations of the widgets you’ve used. I’ve been taking notes! I’m going to try a simple sidebar on my blog for a while. I’m just figuring things out.
    My students definitely like the bling. They are going to be excited when I show them they can put the revolver map and some of the other fun widgets.

    Denise
    My Blog

  3. Kay McGriff

    Thanks for sharing how to add the different widgets. I’m inspired to try out irfanview to create a header with multiple images. I like that look and could share more pics from my classroom that way.

  4. Pingback: Well, Fidget Me Widgets! (Those Things on the Sidebar) | Webster Christian School Library Blog
  5. Kathryn

    Britt
    Thanks for the great post. The one you mentioned Show Yourself was new to me. I have seen others with that in their side bar but wondered how they organised all that so neatly.
    I have just had my computer updated to windows seven. So even though I haven’t had to reorganise my blog like you, I’ve had to spend time resetting up my various internet pages the way I like to operate with them!
    Kathryn

  6. Nancy

    Britt,

    thank you for posting so much information! I like all of the resources in your sidebar, and wonder what the 365 project photos is all about!

    Nancy

  7. Malyn

    Awesome, as always. Oops, I’m pretty sure that’s what I said last time. Ah well, it’s true.

    I learned a lot from the above. Thanks for sharing.

    If you’re ever around my neck of the woods, here’s my post for this activity: Badges as Blog Blings

    It’s pretty much #6 above.

  8. Pingback: Posts of the Week – Visit these blogs- Weeks 3/4 | Teacher Challenge
  9. Janelle Wilson

    One of my favorite widgets on my class site is a moon phase calendar. I take the minimalist approach on my own blog, though.

    I really enjoyed reading about how you chose your widgets.

    By the way, did you get a chance to visit my post about embedding media? I included a solar system unit I wrote. Do you teach the solar system at all? Here’s the link to the post: Exploring the nerve center of the blog.

  10. Penny Bentley

    Britt, once again thank you for sharing with us so many useful blogging tips and ideas. Do you teach the delightful students searching for widgets?
    Like you, a few of my widgets disappeared. I was keen to see if I could rescue my visitors flags. Luckily I had backed up my blog just before the holidays, went into the backup, grabbed the HTML code and it worked! No luck with the globe though.

  11. Anna Bring

    Hi, nice post about widgets. I haven’t been adding any widgets before, but I am glad I got this opportunity to learn from others about what can be added. It also got me thinking about what I want to have on my blog!

  12. murch

    Hi Britt, I was trying to check out my Tech Talk Tuesdays blog, to see if I had any geovisite visitors today and I was really puzzled as to why the widget had disappeared. It took 15 mins or so to realise that it was because of the change of title.
    Oh dear, I haven’t checked out my class blog yet, but guess there will be a bit of work there. Our school blog is globalstudent, so we will have to export that across too.
    See you tomorrow at school and looking forward to working together in 2011.

  13. brittgow

    Thanks Theresa and Glenda for your comments – I didn’t mind having to re-install my widgets at all – it gave me something to blog about didn’t it? It also keeps me in practise – how many times do you have to do something to embed it in your memory?
    I’m glad you found these links and brief instructions useful – I’m off to visit you now!

  14. Glenda Morris

    Hi Britt,
    It’s such a pitty you had to redo your widgets and sidebar. At least this challenge came at exactly the right time.
    I love reading your blog, it’s so clearly set out. Your sidebar is easy to follow too.

  15. Theresa

    Britt,

    I’m sorry to hear you had to re-install your applications to your blog, but, in a way, I’m glad you did! Thank you for giving great explanations and I hope to add a few of these items to my blog as well.
    Theresa

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