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Custom Widgets

You can create your own widgets. Add a welcome widget to your homepage, for example. Introduce yourself with a “bio” widget, including your picture and brief summary of your experience in your field.

Custom widgets can include links to external resources. You can also include “replacement strings” that will pull information from Pilot into your message. A welcome widget can greet each student by name, for example.

Make a Custom Widget

  1. Click “Course Admin” on the navbar. Then click “Widgets.”
  2. On the Widgets page, click the blue “Create Widget” button.
  3. Give your widget a name. This will appear in the title bar at the top of the widget when you place it on your homepage.
  4. If you want, include a description to help you remember what the widget does.
  5. Click the “Content” tab. (The name and description will be saved when you switch tabs.)
  6. On the Content tab, you will have Pilot’s HTML editor, which has a word processor-like toolbar. You can write, edit, and format text, insert images, add video, and more.

Personalize Your Message

Greet Students By Name

You can have Pilot fill in a student’s name. So a student named Joe Cool will see a greeting on the homepage that says “Hello Joe Cool,” for example. To do this use “replacement strings,” which are bits of text that Pilot recognizes and replaces with data.

Pilot will replace {FirstName} with the first name of whoever is viewing your course. Likewise, it will replace {LastName} with the last name of whoever is viewing your course.

So if you type “Welcome {FirstName} {LastName}” in your widget, when Joe Cool is in your course, he will see “Welcome Joe Cool” in your widget.

If you want to check your work before you add the widget to your course, click the “Preview Widget” button near the top of the widget editing page. You will see your name displayed in the preview.

Make a Clickable Email Address

If you include your email address in your contact information, it won’t automatically get turned into a clickable link the way you may be used to seeing in other applications. But you can make it clickable:

  1. Type the email address. (hint: Hit the space bar a couple times after it if you want continue the sentence without having the rest of the text be part of the link.
  2. Highlight the email address and click “Insert Quicklink,” which is the third button on the toolbar.
  3. On the “Insert Quicklink” widow that pops up, click “Url.”
  4. Finally, fill in the URL box with “mailto:” followed your email address, no spaces.
  5. Click “Insert” and your email address will launch an email client when it’s clicked.

Link to Content Items, Discussion Topics, Quizzes, etc.

When you click “Insert Quicklink” on the toolbar, you’ll see a list of tools available in Pilot. You can make a direct link to many things in your course. If you choose the Quizzes option, for example, you’ll see a list of your quizzes. Just select the one you want to make a link to and Pilot will insert that link into the content of your widget.