Friday 5: Widgets in Education

MydashboardWidgets are mini-applications that can be employed to make your working life more efficient. The Mac operating system, known as OS X, includes Dashboard, a piece of software that runs and manages widgets. Yahoo also has a widget engine which runs on PC and Mac desktops. This week’s list is primarily focuses on Dashboard widgets for OS X. I’ve also included a screenshot of my Dashboard.

The impetus behind this week’s list is that I decided that a list of educationally usefully widgets would be helpful to educators, particularly those who are implementing 1 to 1 laptop programs. There are also sorts of widgets out there that can potentially enhance learning including ones containing dictionaries, words and facts of the day, calendars, converters, translators, and photos. Also, students absolutely are intrigued by widgets and you should be aware of these doodads from a classroom/laptop management point of view. Best of all, many widgets are free, although I’ve noticed a few shareware and commercially sold ones out there.

For more background information, I suggest you check out  a couple of Wikipedia articles on Yahoo’s Widget Engine (formally known as Konfabulator) and on Apple’s Dashboard software which also uses widgets. And, for a more in-depth history of Konfabulator widgets and Apple widgets, read this blog post from Daring Fireball.

Have fun exploring,

Lucy Gray


1)    Yahoo! Widgets

Get the Yahoo engine widget here. You need this before running any Yahoo widget. There is a version for both PC and Mac users.

2)    Apple’s Dashboard Widgets

If you have a Mac running OS 10.4 (Tiger), you have Dashboard on your computer. View a demo of Dashboard and find widgets that run on Dashboard using the above links.

There are differences between Yahoo! Widgets and Dashboard widgets. They are created using different technologies and Yahoo’s widgets run on your desktop while Apple’s run in Dashboard.  Read the aforementioned Wikipedia article on widgets for more info.

Next Steps

3)    Listing of Education Widgets

Here’s a comprehensive list of widgets that could be used in school settings.

4)    Dashboard Widgets from ZDNet

Google Macintosh Dashboard Widgets

5)    Voicenotes Dashboard Widget

This one is a demo and it costs $5.95. Check out the company web site for additional widgets: .

6)    Graphing Widgets for Dashboard

7)    Notepad Widget for Dashboard

8)    Stop-It! Widget for Dashboard

This widget is a count down timer.

9)    This Day in History Widget for Dashboard

10)    The Periodic Table Widget for Dashboard

For Fun

11)     Pirate Translator for Dashboard

12)     Christmas Lights for Dashboard

13)     Basketball for Dashboard

Deep Dive

Apparently, it’s fairly easy to create your own widgets. Here are some sources for getting started.

14)     Developing Dashboard Widgets

15)     Yahoo! Widgets – Workshop

Subscribe to the Friday 5 Google Group here.


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Filed under Apple, Ed Tech Resources, Friday 5, Web/Tech

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