Tips and Tricks: Widgets, part II

Last month we gave you a compact introduction to widgets. You said hi, shook hands, made a little small talk about the weather. But we just know that you and widgets are going to get along like gangbusters, once you get to know each other. So we’re taking some time to get you better acquainted.

How you know you need widgets
Maybe you found a really great wiki through one of your colleagues, or from Twitter, or right here on this blog. And while you were admiring that wiki, something caught your eye. Perhaps it was a list of visitors, showing their location on a rotating globe, or a Facebook “like” button. Or possibly you saw an embedded presentation that let you flip through slides without downloading anything or opening any new windows. These were all widgets. They didn’t take any coding or programming or special skills. And they’re out there, on the Web, ready for you to use.

How you find the widgets you need
There are literally thousands of widgets out there that do everything from helping you lose weight to letting you play Space Invaders, so finding the right one can be a bit overwhelming. Here a few simple steps to get you started.

  1. Keep your eyes open. Now that you know what you’re looking for, you can recognize all those cool widgets on wikis, Web sites, and blogs for what they are. A lot of the time, those cools widgets will be branded with the widget’s name (or even a link to the source), so you can easily look them up and add them to your own wikis.
  2. Hunt for Embed codes. Most of the Web 2.0 tools you already use and love can probably be embedded in your wiki. Take a close look at your settings, preferences, and options. Is there something that says, “Share,” or “Embed,” or “Post to your blog”? If so, there’s a good chance that same code will let you add it to your wiki.
  3. Search. Googling “wiki widgets” won’t do you much good — there are simply too many out there. But once you know what you want, you can narrow it down. Try “bookshelf widget,” for example. Or “embed slideshow.” (Just a note: There’s a lot of great stuff out there, but some widgets and widget sites may contain inappropriate content. So search safely.)
  4. Ask. Every really great wiki gets that way because someone puts a lot of effort and care into it. These people are experts, and they are often excited to talk about the work they’ve done. They may be happy to help, or they may be too busy. But it seldom hurts to ask — and to let them know that all their hard work is appreciated.

And now — the good stuff
We wish we could take you straight to exactly the right widget: that one perfect tool that will be the cherry on top of your wiki. But there are just too many projects and too many widgets. And there are new ones every day!

Here are just a few to get you started. We know the Wikispaces community already uses (and loves) these guys:

That’s just a teaser, really. You can find a much, much bigger list at cooltoolsforschools.

In fact, so many of you are collecting and sharing all these fantastic tools that we can’t really keep up. Every month in our roundup post, we try to gather just a few of your lists, libraries, and recommendations.

Good luck!

This entry was posted in Tips and Tricks. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

One Comment

  1. Posted April 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Have been using loads of widgets to bring the wikispaces to life for my D&T students for the past 3 years – another site that breaks down and makes comparisons of different good educational widgets is by Suzie Vesper – found this invaluable when I first started working with wikispaces.

  • Wikispaces Private Label

    Our flexible, scalable wiki environments deliver unlimited wikis, simple editing tools, and powerful central administration for organizations of all sizes.
    Find out more.
    Start your free, 30-day trial.

  • About Us

    Welcome to our blog! This is where we share updates about events and new releases, tips and tricks for using wikis, profiles of a few of our favorite wikis, and more. We're proud to serve a large community of educators, as well as individuals, groups, and organizations of all stripes and sizes.

    Contact us.
    Call us: 415-863-8919
    Site status · We're hiring!

  • Join Us for a Webinar

    Our monthly webinars are a great way to check out examples, learn from experts, and get real-time answers to your questions. Our webinars are always fun, and always free.
    Sign up today.

  • Wikispaces for Educators

    If your wiki is used exclusively for education, you might be eligible for a free upgrade to one of our K–12 plan or Higher Education plan wikis.
    Learn more about our K–12 plan.
    Learn more about our Higher Education plan.