Friday, May 11, 2007

Widgets and Desire2Learn

As I mentioned in my post about What are widgets anyway?, I include widgets in the homepages for my courses in Desire2Learn. In this post, I'll provide some specific notes for Desire2Learn users who want to include widgets in their course space.

Why use Desire2Learn widgets? It's a fantastic way to add dynamic content to an otherwise static webpage. Students are accustomed to webpages stuffed full of widgets (Facebook, MySpace, et al.), so adding widgets to your Desire2Learn page can really make your students feel at home... while sharing educational content with them at the same time!

Instructions for Creating a Homepage and Adding Widgets

You can get a great start by looking at this video tutorial about Desire2Learn homepages and widgets created by the University of Oklahoma Library systems. The tutorials shows and tells you how to create a custom Desire2Learn homepage and how to add widgets to the homepage.

Even if you are not at OU, you can follow the instructions in this tutorial to create a homepage for your course. You need to create the homepage first, and then you can add widgets to that homepage.

Instructions for Creating Widgets

Here's a step by step presentation of how to take a widget and deploy it in Desire2Learn. (Make sure you have created a homepage before you begin this process; the OU Library video tutorial shows you how to create a homepage.)

1. Create New Widget. Log on to your Desire2Learn course and click on Edit Course, then click on Homepages. Then click the Create New Widget button.

2. Name Your Widget. You will first be asked to give your widget a name. You can also supply a description, which is a good thing to do if your school will allow you to share your custom widgets with other instructors. When you are done, click the Save button.

3. Custom Code. You can accept the default styles for the widget, and go straight to the Custom Code tab. This is where you will enter the javascript code that you will copy and paste from

4. Copy Widget Script. Go to and select the widget you want to create. You will then need to highlight the entire contents of the script box for the widget you want to use. Clicking inside the box and then using the Control-A key is a good way to highlight the contents. Then copy the contents (Control-C is an easy way to copy).

5. Paste Widget Script. Return to the Desire2Learn custom code box and paste the javascript code into the box (Control-V is an easy way to paste). Click the Save button when you are done.

6. Add Widget to Homepage. Click on Manage Homepages, and then click on the link to the Homepage you have created for this course. Select the panel area in which you want to display the widget. Next, click on the new widget you created in the Available Widgets column, and use the right-arrow to move the widget over into the Active Widgets column. You can use the up and down arrows to arrange the contents in the column. You can use the Preview button to see how it looks. When you are done, click the Save button.

7. View New Homepage. Click the Go To Course link in order to return to your course homepage. You should see the new widget displayed on the homepage!


  1. Interesting.

    Let me know if you want a job board widget for ministers.


  2. hi Chris, thanks for your comment! I'm focusing on educational widgets to share with the teachers at my school, and happy to find out that these can be useful for others. I don't know if there is a repository of religious widgets out there, but it would be easy to create one using -
    for example, if you tag something education widget, there is some stuff at already; I just went through and tagged my widget pages with -
    maybe we can promote the use of a religion widget tag at

    I found one widget that way:

    there are so many people creating widgets out there - should be a way to share them, I would guess!


  3. Hi Laura,
    I've found your educational widgets and I'm really surprised. I'm teacher of Latin and your materials are very useful! Thank you very much!



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