Monday, June 2, 2008

Widget Workshop

Widgets are wonderful, helpful, contained, coded, practical, and fun. When I first discovered widgets, I didn't know that these little snippets, these tiny programs in a box could be so powerful.

Amazingly, my first widget was media player widget called Dizzler. I wasn't even thinking of using widgets as educational tools. I wanted to listen to music while I was online, and the widget from Dizzler fit the bill in the beginning. One very cool aspect of widgets like this is the flexibility of the LOOK of the widget. You can pick a SKIN that can make the widget look different. Mine was a butterfly, and I enjoyed using it. Later, I found other media player widgets.

As time went on, I discovered widgets that could keep track of the number of people who visited my site. My first tracking widget was My World Visitor Map.

When I was invited to join an educational social network, I first learned of static widgets. They are often called badges. They are usually widgets that you click on to get to the mentioned website. If you belong to a certain network, like Classroom 2.0, then you can get a badge to put on your website to help others find their way to Classroom 2.0. Most badges are invitations really.

The focus on widgets here is historical. I am using widgets to describe some of the simple ways a person can use widgets for a variety of purposes that WILL change over time. As a person's experience develops, it seems to me that their use of widgets matures.

For myself, I began to look to other educators blogs, websites and profiles where I gathered many ideas about the direction my interest and use of widgets would move. The next widgets I downloaded were interactive widgets, widgets that have content that you can manipulate. Some great examples of that type of widget include Voki, Flickr gadget, and tag cloud. These widgets may be considered excellent teaching tools and remain favorite interactive instructional tools, even now.

To learn more about widgets, read Learnings from the Widget Roundtable, a discussion by Dave McClure (who helps teach the Stanford Facebook class, and runs the Graphing Social Patterns conference), Justin Smith (of Inside Facebook), Rodney Rumford (of FaceReviews), and Jeremy Owyang, of how widgets could be classified.


Wm Chamberlain said...

I can't get weather pixie to work either and the site seems to be down.

I see you are using snapshot. Have you looked at apture? I love it because I can embed multimedia in the snap that comes up. I can keep my students from having to leave my blog to view videos or pictures.

samccoy said...

Excellent suggestion! I have never used , but I will try it out.

I don't know what to do about Weather Pixie. Much of the science oriented part of my presentation was geared to phenology, using Weather Pixie. Oh well, at least it didn't happen on Friday. Hah! I will put something else together.

I have found a great site called that has a widget. Their focus is on picture books. I can develop that AND apture for the safety aspect;D

Thanks for the great comments. I have been inspired to think of more avenues for presentation.