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.