iTeach Challenges

Challenge Yourself

Activity 6: Set up your widgets, tags and categories

Objectives:

  1. Explain how widgets are used on class blog.
  2. Introduce you to the commonly used class blog widgets.
  3. Show you how to change widgets and add widgets to your sidebar.
Topics

  1. What are widgets?
  2. How widgets are used on class blogs
  3. Examples of widgets on class blogs
  4. Widgets and blog design
  5. How to add a widget
  6. How to remove a widget
  7. Overview of Available widgets
  8. Adding widgets using embed code in text widgets
  9. Commonly used visitor tracking widgets
  10. Using link widgets on class blogs
  11. Commonly asked questions about widgets
  12. Activity 5:  Set up your widgets, tags and categories

WHAT ARE WIDGETS?

The term widget refers to any tool or content that you add, arrange or remove from the sidebar(s) of your blog — these are the blocks that make up your sidebar.

HOW WIDGETS ARE USED ON CLASS BLOGS

Widgets are used for a wide range of purposes including:


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EXAMPLES OF WIDGETS ON CLASS BLOGS

The most popular widgets used on class blogs are widgets from other websites that are pasted into a text widget in the sidebar using embed code.

We’ve set up EduBits n Bots Widget demo blog to showcase the most popular widgets that educators, and their students, like to embed into text widgets in their sidebar so you can check out all the widgets in one handy location.

We’ve gone a bit widget crazy to help you see them all in the one location and you generally don’t see all these widgets together on a class blog.

Widget Demo blog


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WIDGETS AND BLOG DESIGN

There are hundreds of different widgets you can add to the sidebar of your blog using embed code in a text widget but when adding any widget you need to think about the design of your blog.  Widgets can be noisy, take up a lot of space and may distract readers.

When adding widgets think about does it add to your blog OR does it distract readers from your posts.  You need to have a balance between widgets and your blog content; you want people to read your posts!

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HOW TO ADD WIDGETS

Adding a widget is as simple as follows:

1.  Go to Appearance > Widget.

2.  Click on the arrow on the desired Sidebar to open up the sidebar (so you can add the widgets).

3.  Drag the widget from the Available Widgets into the desired Sidebar.

You drag by click on the widget with your left mouse and moving the widget.

4.  Drop the widget when you see a dashed line appear – this indicates the widget is in place.

5.  The widget will automatically open — just configure, click Save and then Close.



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HOW TO REMOVE WIDGETS

Removing a widget is as simple as:

1.  Go to Appearance > Widget.

2.  Click on the small arrow on the right hand side of the widget you want to remove.

3.  Click Delete.

This returns the widget to the Inactive Widget area.


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OVERVIEW OF AVAILABLE WIDGETS

Here’s a summary of the main widgets you’ll find in your dashboard and what they are used for:

Archives Used to organise your previously published posts by month.  Handy for readers who want to browser for older content  To save space change the configuration to ‘Display as a dropdown’
Blog Avatar Used to display your blog avatar (uploaded via Settings > Blog Avatar).
Calendar Displays links to your posts by date on a calendar  Can’t be used as an Events calendar.
ClustrMaps A simple widget for quickly adding a ClustrMaps to your blog sidebarAdded when the Widget plugin is activated in Plugins.
Custom Menu Allows you to display pages, categories, and custom links with a single widget.  To use you first need to set up your custom menu inAppearance > Menu.
Email Subscriptions A simple widget for adding email subscription to your blog.Used to notify readers of your latest posts by email.
Links Used to display a list of links in your sidebar.  Commonly used to share your favourite blogs or websites with your readers.
Meta Simple widget for easy log in and log out of your blog, to access your dashboard and to locate your RSS feed.
Pages Displays a list of your pages in the sidebar.  Commonly used for themes that don’t have page links in the top navigation.
Recent Comments Displays the most recent comments left on your blog by readers.
Recent Posts Displays the most recent posts you have published.  Makes it easier for readers to see what’s new on your blog.
Search Adds a search box to your sidebar. Makes it easier for readers to search the contents of your blog.
 Tag cloud Adds a search box to your sidebar.  Makes it easier for readers to search the contents of your blog.
 Text Allows you to add text or embed code to your sidebar.  It’s the most useful widget because you can use it to add content from other sources to your sidebar using their embed code.

Some widgets are also added to your widget area when you activate plugins.


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ADDING WIDGETS USING EMBED CODE IN TEXT WIDGETS

The handiest widget you’ll find in your dashboard is the text widget.

You can add any other widgets you find on the Internet by pasting their embed code into a text widget in your sidebar.

This is how you add widgets from WidgetBoxVokiShelfari BookshelfFlag Counter,  Feedjit Live Traffic FeedGoogle Calendar and so on!

We’ve added links to popular widgets in our Pinteret cool widgets board and you can see these widgets on the EduBits n Bots Widget demo blog.  Clicking on a widget takes you to the website where you can grab the embed code.

Adding a widget from another website is as simple as: 1, 2, 3….

1.  Grab the embed code for the widget you want to add.

Copy the code

2.  Go to Appearance > Widgets.

3.  Drag a text widget into your sidebar.

4.  Paste the embed code into the text widget.

Paste embed code

5.  Click Save and Close.

6.  You should now see the widget in your sidebar.


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COMMONLY USED VISITOR TRACKING WIDGETS

Visitor tracking widgets are popular on class blogs because:

  • Knowing you’re writing for a global audience is incredibly motivating for students.
  • Realizing people from other countries are reading what they’ve written increases students’ interest, excitement and motives them to blog.
  • It also provides built-in geography lessons — most students constantly check for new visitors and enjoy finding out more about the countries where their visitors are from.

It’s quite common to see class blogs use more than one visitor tracking widget as each widget provides different information about visitors to the blog.

Here’s a quick overview of the most commonly used visitor tracking widgets on class blogs:

ClustrMaps ClustrMaps is a thumbnail hit counter map widget that shows the geographical location of all visitors to your blog. Number of visitors from a location is indicated by the relative size of the dot.  Clicking the ClustrMaps thumbnail takes you to a large World map so you can examine your traffic sources more closely.Here’s detailed instructions on how to add a ClustrMaps using the ClustrMaps widget.
 Flag Counter Flag Counter widget shows the total number of visitors from each country next to the country’s flag. Every time someone from a new country visits your site, a new flag will be added to your counter.  Clicking on the flag counter takes you to your Flag counter page which provides more detailed charts and information about your visitors.
 Feedjit Feedjit Live Traffic Feed displays visitors to your blog in real time and includes: Which city and country your visitors are in; Which website they arrived from, if any; Which page they visited on your website; Which external link they clicked to leave your site, if anyYour traffic feed is updated as each visitor arrives on your site. This update occurs before it loads so each of your visitors can see their own location displayed.Clicking on the Feedjit Live Traffic counter takes you to your Live traffic page which provides more detailed information including the countries associated with web visitors’ IP addresses, the web browser, computer operating system, and referring website.
Feedjit Live Traffic Map Feedjit Live Traffic Map displays real-time visitor tracking by showing the geographic locations of the last 100 visitors to your blog. If you move your mouse over any point on the map the city and country for that visitor will be displayed.  Clicking on the Feedjit Live Traffic Map takes you to your Live Traffic Map page which provides more detailed information.
Revolver Map Revolver Map displays all visitor locations and recent hits live and in realtime on a revolving globe of the Earth. A click on the widget opens the live statistics page.


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USING LINK WIDGETS ON CLASS BLOGS

Links widgets are commonly used on a class blog to provide links to other class blogs, student blogs and resources— they are designed to help you, your students and others websites easily.

The most common type of link widget you’ll hear mentioned is a blogroll.  Bloggers commonly use blogrolls to list their favourite blogs.  Blogrolls help readers locate other blogs worth reading — you are saying “these are some blogs I like – which are worth checking out!”

Blogrolls on class blogs are used often used to provide links to student blogs or other class blogs they interact with.

PLEASE NOTE:

Here is how you create links to websites or blogs:

1.  Go to Links > Add New.

2.  Add the name of the website or blog to the Name Module.

3.  Add the URL to the Web Address module.

Best option is to copy/paste the URL from the address bar of your web browser – as you are less likely to make a mistake. 

4.  Select Blogroll in the Category Module or create a new Category then click Add Link.

You use different categories if you organise your links in different locations in your sidebars.  

Once you’ve created the links you add them to your sidebar by adding the Links widget (viaAppearance > Widgets).

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COMMONLY ASKED WE’RE ASKED ABOUT WIDGETS

Here’s answers to commonly asked questions we receive into Edublogs Support:

1.  I’m trying to remove a widget and I can’t find it listed in my sidebar in Appearance > Widgets.  How do I remove it?

The most common reason why you may have trouble removing a widget, or see two of the same widget on a blog, is if  some of the widgets have been hard coded into the theme.  Any hard coded widgets can’t be removed.NotePad Chaos is an example of a theme with hard coded widgets.  Pages, Categories, Links and a What is this Place are all coded into the theme.

2.  Why doesn’t the categories I set up in Posts > Category display in my Category widget?

Categories and tags on posts are used to help readers locate information in different ways.  When your readers click on a categories link on a post or in your sidebar it loads a page with all posts that use that category.Categories won’t display in your category widget until the category has been assigned to a post.

3.  Why are some tags in my tag cloud widget larger than others?

When your readers click on a tag link on a post or in your sidebar it loads a page with all posts that use that tag. The larger the size of the word in the tag cloud the more posts that have been tagged using that term.The Tag Cloud widget displays a list of your top 45 tags that you’ve assigned to posts.

4. Why doesn’t my Calendar widget show the correct date?

The calendar widget creates a calendar in your sidebar with clickable links to your blogs posts for particular dates. Dates that appear in bold type indicate dates you’ve posted.It doesn’t let you setup a calendar of events.  It’s only used is to display links to your posts by date.If you want an Events calendar we recommend you add a Google Calendar to your sidebar orembed it into a page.

Alternatively if you want to add a simple calendar use this Monthly Caldendar.


Activity 6:  Set up your widgets, tags and categories

Please complete the following:

  1. Setup your blogs sidebars and make necessary changes.
    • Remove unnecessary widgets you don’t need.
    • Add the custom menu widget. Add the menu to the custom menu widget that contains your 2 about me pages you create in activity 5.
  2. Create categories- go to Posts > Categories and set up the names of the new categories. Name one catagory about me.
    1. Assign your about me category to your why I teach posts using the Quick Edit action link menu in Posts > Edit.
  3. Add your Category widget t to your blog side bar
    • Remember categories won’t display in your Category widget until they have been assigned to a post
  4. Create a blog post called “Set up your widgets, tags and categories” and
    describe step-by step what you did what you did.
  5. COMPLETE AND SUBMIT THE ACTIVITY 1 COMPLETION FORM (click on link).

    1.  For credit, please complete and submit after you have completed Activity 6.

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