Tagged: plugins

Blogging Challenge #7: Searching for widgets

widget_comiclife

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?