Introduction to Widgets

What Are Widgets?

Every Brightspace site generated for a course at Memorial has distinct blocks of content on its homepage: Announcements, Course Content, Calendar etc. These blocks are called widgets. The purpose of those widgets is to provide links to frequently used tools directly on the course homepage, so that students can access them easily without having to navigate through the course site.

By default, a homepage generated for your Brightspace course site contains a standard set widgets: Announcements, Course Content, Updates on the left side of the screen, and Calendar, Learning Resources, Role Switch, and Grades2Banner on the right. However, it is possible to customize your course homepage by adding, removing, and modifying widgets to meet your specific instructional needs. This resource provides information on how to achieve that.

Why Use Widgets?

Effective use of widgets in Brightspace courses benefits both students and instructors. Widgets:

  • give instructors more control over where students look for information
  • help students stay on top of their course work
  • provide a single platform for course content and additional course resources
  • help incorporate external tools directly into the course shell
  • make the Brightspace course pages more interactive

Sample Widgets and Their Use

The chart below presents some of the widgets available on your Brightspace course site and their purpose. The middle column indicates the visibility of the widget – while most widgets on the course page are visible to both students and instructors (“S/I”), some only appear on the instructor’s site and are not visible to students (“I”).

BookmarksS/IThe Bookmarks widget enables you to view the parts of the course content that you have bookmarked.
CalendarS/IThe Calendar widget contains two elements: a mini-calendar and a list of upcoming events created by instructors (meetings, quizzes, deadlines etc.). Clicking on a particular day in the mini-calendar limits the upcoming events to that day only. Clicking on any upcoming event in the widget takes you to that event in the Calendar tool.
Course Resources (Reserves)S/IThis widgets provides a direct link to the library e-reserves for the course. For information on Course Reserves, visit this library page.
Getting StartedIThe widget contains a link to the ‘Course Design Accelerator’ – a tool that instructors new to Brightspace can use as a guide creating their course site. Once the ‘Course Design Accelerator’ is launched from the Getting Started widget, it takes instructors through the process of designing a Brightspace course site and provides direct links to the various tools within it.
Google SearchS/IThis widget provides a direct link to the Google search engine. Search results open in a new window in your default web browser.
Grades2BannerIThe Grades2Banner widget provides instructors with a direct link to the ‘Instructor Tools’ page where final course grades can be transferred to Banner directly from the Brightspace grade book.
Learning ResourcesS/IThis widget provides links to other units at Memorial University that provide support to students (e.g., the Writing Centre, Academic Advising).
Role SwitchIThe Role Switch widget allows instructors to temporarily view the course as it would appear to students. The student preview applies only to general areas of the course (Announcements, Course Content, Discussions etc.), but not to student-specific areas such as Grades. Note: you cannot view the course as a specific student.
TasksS/IThis widget enables any user to create a personalized list of tasks to complete in the course, along with a due date and additional note for each task. The system then sorts the tasks into the categories of Today, Upcoming, or Someday (no due date). Once a task is completed, you can check it off and it will disappear from the list. However, you can always view your completed tasks by clicking the ‘View Completed Tasks’ link.
Twitter EvaluationS/ITwitter can be incorporated into a Brightspace course and used for evaluation. For information on how to use Twitter for evaluation, click here.
UpdatesS/IThe Updates widget displays any new activity in the course. It informs about:
– Unread submission files
– Assignment submissions awaiting evaluation
– Unread discussions posts
– New Brightspace email
– Ungraded quizzes, etc.
User LinksS/IThis widget allows users to create a personal list of links to external websites.