Tag Archives: clickers

Mischievous Mouses

mouse locked by chain

Unlock your mouse!

I occasionally get emails from people looking for a little exposure for a new product or service.  Excluding the copious spam, I do appreciate the interest in my blog, though most of these messages miss the mark.  I won’t write about something unless I actually see it as useful.  Fortunately, I recently received something useful in my inbox.  From Microsoft.  It’s called Mouse Mischief.

After watching the video on the homepage, I’m intrigued.  Mouse Mischief allows a teacher to connect up to 15 mice to one computer.  If each student has a wireless mouse they can all interact on the screen at the same time.  Each mouse can have a different cursor, so a teacher can ask a question and have students mouse-over the answer.  Students can also perform other mouse functions like drawing and clicking from their seats.  Teachers can even track which students answer correctly as well as how often and how quickly.

I like this idea because it’s a bit like clickers, which give each student the ability to answer a question by pushing a button, and a bit like an interactive whiteboard, which allow students to interact collaboratively with the screen.

Of course, moving a mouse on top of a desk is not the same experience as actually touching a touchscreen.  And wireless mice aren’t free, though Microsoft conveniently links to some which start at about $20 —  plan on about $300 to be fully outfitted, assuming you already have a computer and a projector in your classroom.  Plus the software, which is free to download, only works with certain versions of some of their products (PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, for example).

Microsoft seems to be taking the right path by encouraging teachers to upload their best lesson plans so that teachers can collaborate on the best uses of this technology.  Will it be the next “big thing”?  I’m not sure it will, but it’s an innovative use of an old technology.  And if using one mouse is good, I’d like to see what can be done with 10 or 12 of them.

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Clickers image courtesy telr.osu.edu.

Clickers image courtesy http://telr.osu.edu/clickers

Clickers are devices that allow students (or any audience) to interact with a teacher (or presenter).  There are many different kinds, but Ohio State has settled on one brand for consistency.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about how these devices might be used in an ESL classroom.

One way I would like to use them would be to poll my grammar students about the difficulty of the material we are covering.  Often when I ask if they understand, I am greeted by blank stares.  Are these this-is-sooo-easy stares, or I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about stares?  I can’t always tell.  Clickers might tell me.

During class, students clould indicate via clicker if I should A) speed up, B) keep this pace, or C) slow down.  Three bars (A, B, C) could grow or shrink depending on their latest response.  These bars could appear in the corner of the screen at the front of the class or only on my laptop screen.  I could then pace my class accordingly.

Maybe this is overkill in a small grammar class like mine, but the immediate feedback would be welcome (especially since students are not always very forthcoming with this information on their own.)  Of course, pop quizzes, groupwork responses, and more are possible.  Data submitted via clicker can also be compiled and analyzed very thoroughly, if necessary.

Finally, as with all new technology, the question remains: Is it worth it?  The cost in and money ($20-40 per clicker) time to set up is not insignificant.  And new technologies (Twittering via cell phone, for example) may soon replace this proprietary hardware.  But the availability of this kind of interaction raises some interesting possiblities.


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