Create, Design & Edit Widgets for Your Course Homepage

What Are Widgets?

D2L Widgets are windows that appear within your D2L Course homepage. These widgets can help your students feel welcome and supported. Once you make your homepage editable in a course, you will be able to adjust, add or create widgets within that course's homepage.

System Widgets vs. Custom Widgets

There are two kinds of widgets available in D2L Brightspace: system widgets and custom widgets.

System Widgets.

D2L's system widgets include the Announcements widget, the Calendar widget, the Activity Feed widget, the Content Browser widget, and many other options. These are not editable by anyone at Pima Community College.

Custom Widgets.

Pima Community College also has a variety of featured widgets (e.g. the "Ask a Librarian" widget) included within the Custom Widgets section. You can also create your own custom widget. Before creating your own, take a moment to look at our featured widgets.

Widget FAQs

How to ensure my homepage is editable so that I can change a widget? (a detailed tutorial)

  1. Determine if your homepage is editable. From the course’s homepage scroll to the bottom right and look for the More Options menu which looks like an ellipsis (or use the Tab key).

  2. From More Options choose Edit this Homepage.

    1. If you can’t select it then choose Manage Homepages and you can create an editable homepage.

    2. One of the homepages listed will be labeled Active on the right side. Click the small downward facing arrow to the right of the active homepage and select Copy from the menu.

    3. Under the Active Homepages heading choose the copy you just created and use the Apply button to confirm the change.

    4. Now return to the homepage and you should be able to click Edit this Homepage

  3. Scroll down to the Layout section of the page and choose the Change Layout button.

  4. Select Basic Plus and use the Update button to confirm the change. (D2L Brightspace will reorder your widgets inconsistently if you select a three-column layout, so that is highly discouraged.)

  5. The layout at the bottom of this page will update to show you what your finished homepage will look like. From here you can add, move, or delete widgets.

    1. Add: Use the Add Widgets button to access the list of available widgets. Click the box to the left of the ones you want, then use the Add button to put them on your page. The typical ones you will want are as follows:

      1. Left: Announcements

      2. Right: Updates, Access Google Apps (student Gmail app), Faculty Email (faculty Gmail app), Your Instructor widget (where available), NetTutor, Custom course widgets.

      3. Bottom: PCC D2L Brightspace Tech Support, Course Feedback Form, Role switch, Students at Risk (This will be enabled later this year, so if you add it now you’ll be ready as soon as it is ready)

    2. Move: Rearrange widgets by dragging the widget by the small area on the left edge of the frame where there is a set of horizontal lines.

    3. Delete: Remove widgets from your course homepage by using the small X at their upper right corner.

  6. When you have the widget layout you like, click the Save and Close button to return to the course home.

What are the pros and cons of D2L's “Work To-Do" System Widget?

How do students benefit from the Work To Do Widget? The "Work To-Do" widget provides a different way that students can view course notifications that they receive in D2L. It also organizes course activities by overdue and upcoming due dates so students can see their past and upcoming work and stay on top of their tasks. The widget is enabled in D2L as of 2021, so if Instructors or Department Heads want to add it to their course homepages, they are more than welcome to do so (by editing their homepage and adding the widget anywhere they want it to be viewed by students).

What are the design limitations? Please note that this new 2021 widget does NOT yet support discussion due dates nor is it able to remove module due dates from view. See 10/7/21 FAQS at D2L's "Introducing the Work To Do Widget" at Brightspace.

How do I keep my widgets responsive?

Responsive Pages for All Devices

One of the improvements that the "Daylight" version of D2L Brightspace made is to be much more responsive to the changing sizes of screens we use to interact with courses. As the screen size gets smaller D2L Brightspace under Daylight will automatically rearrange course content to adapt on the fly.

Keeping Your Widgets Responsive

To maximize the visibility of the most important widgets on your homepage the layout should be the large left with the most important widgets placed to the upper left.

How do I learn how to make other edits to my home page?

Learn More at Course Homepages.

Can I change a widget's appearance or title in my course directly from the home page?

By clicking on the drop-down arrow or chevron next to the widget's title, you may see some editing options from the home page itself to change how it appears:

  • If you see "Customize this Widget," you may be able to edit the maximum number of announcements - or automatically remove items from the widget after a certain number of days.

  • If you see "Style this Widget," you can: 1) hide the widget title; 2) enable students to minimize the widget; 3) change the widget title to a custom name you prefer for a specific course.

How do I add a "24/7 Help" widget?

Pima recently updated our options to include a horizontal Quicklinks toolbar featured above. This tool links to all key resources including a tech support page that directs students or faculty to a single page that includes a range of options including the 24/7 help desk. 24/7 help can also still be accessed through the D2L navbar's Help drop-down. If you need to add the older 24/7 widget to your course, to learn how, please see this screencast.

How do I add or edit my Course "Banner" (ie. the header)

Here's a brief tutorial from the University of Arizona. Within this tutorial, please skip steps 1 and (which aren't enabled at Pima) and progress to step 3 (to Display a banner on your course home page) and step 4 (to add or change the banner image).

How to create my own custom widget

  • To create your own widget from scratch, check out this video by PCC librarian Charles Becke which includes the process of how to make your course home page editable.

  • One caveat: in contrast to the point raised at 2 minutes, 10 seconds, please note that you do not have to recreate widgets for each course. Instead, after creating your own widget, you can go to each new CRN and then use the Import/Export/Copy components process to pull the selected widget you just created (or the entire home page or course if desired) into your new course shell.

How can I learn more about widgets?

For technical guidance on how to add a widget to your class, see these resources or watch the video below. Please keep in mind that all courses at Pima will automatically have D2L homepages created for them - so your primary focus will be to: 1) make the homepage editable; 2) create and/or clone and edit your widget; and, 3) add the widget to your course homepage.