A widget is a micro-application performing a dedicated task. This task can be as simple as showing news headlines or weather forecasts, but also more complex like facilitating language learning or collaborative authoring.
Widgets can be either desktop-based or web-based. Desktop-based widgets reside locally on your computer and may access the web for information, such as a desktop widget that shows the local temperature and weather. Web-based widgets reside on the web and can be embedded on a web page, such as an RSS reader widget that fetches news on your start page. Web-based widgets have proven quite popular as they enhance the interactivity and personalisation of web sites.
A Google widget is also referred to as a gadget.
A widget bundle is a set of widgets that complement each other and are utilised together for a common purpose. For example, a widget bundle for collaborative authoring can consist of widgets such as Google Docs and Google Talk.
A widget store is a directory of widgets. Widgets are commonly categorised within a widget store according to their purpose, e.g. widgets for planning, communication, collaboration. Users can browse and download the widgets, as well as provide feedback on the widgets in the form of ratings and comments. A popular widget store is the Google gadget directory, which lists thousands of free widgets.
Personal Learning Environment
A Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is a facility for an individual to access, aggregate, configure and manipulate digital artefacts of their ongoing learning experiences.
The PLE follows a learner-centric approach, allowing the use of lightweight services and tools that belong to and are controlled by individual learners. Rather than integrating different services into a centralised system, the PLE provides the learner with a variety of services and hands over control to her to select and use these services the way she deems fit.
A popular facility for building a PLE on the web is iGoogle. iGoogle allows anyone with a Google account to assemble their own collection of Google gadgets.