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Free tool lets students participate during class

Microsoft offers a no-cost alternative to student response system software

Microsoft's free program allows for collaborative PowerPoint presentations.

Microsoft's free program allows for collaborative PowerPoint presentations.

Joining in the effort to keep students engaged in the classroom, Microsoft on April 30 announced a new addition to its PowerPoint software that allows students to participate in classroom presentations. The best news: It’s available free of charge.

The new tool, called Mouse Mischief, allows teachers to add multiple choice, yes/no, and drawing questions to their presentations. Students then use any computer mice (any device from the school will work) to answer these questions. The tool also allows for whole-class or individual student responses.

“We’ve observed classrooms around the world, and it’s a no-brainer that technology has the power to engage students—but not every classroom has the budget to afford new technology,” said Nasha Fitter, senior product manager for Microsoft in an interview with eSchool News.

“We’ve also observed that many teachers use and feel comfortable with PowerPoint. By making Mouse Mischief free and easy to use through any mouse, we’re cutting down costs while helping to make learning engaging for today’s students.”

After Mouse Mischief is installed (teachers can download the application at http://www.microsoft.com/multipoint/mouse-mischief/), the Mouse Mischief toolbar will appear as part of the PowerPoint ribbon when a new or old PowerPoint presentation is opened. The toolbar lets teachers add interactive elements, such as multiple-choice question slides, with a single click.

Once the students have selected their answers, the teacher can display the correct answer. The tool also calculates the percentage of students who answered the question correctly; if a teacher sees that, say, only 20 percent of students got the correct answer, perhaps the students need more time or a different way to learn the concept.

“Since no one can tell whose cursor is whose up on the presentation, this tool can really help shy students, too,” said Fitter.

More control, more resources

Because Mouse Mischief allows for the whole class to participate in answering questions, teachers might find it difficult to ask an individual student to answer a question with multiple cursors on the screen.

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Comments:

  1. norrisk

    April 30, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    This tool seems to be PC only…no Mac version. Ugh!

  2. norrisk

    April 30, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    This tool seems to be PC only…no Mac version. Ugh!

  3. senorvn

    April 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Nice try, Microsoft. Limitation: max. of 15 wireless mice. The main thing I don’t like is that everybody’s mouse is visible to everyone else. Microsoft bills this as a replacement for student response systems, but there is one HUGE problem with that. With SRS, no one knows what anyone else answers (privacy and integrity). With this, people will soon figure out the “smart kid’s” cursor image and will click the same answer she/he clicks everytime. That’s not a formative assessment of if they’re getting it, that’s a formative assessment of how fast can they figure out which cursor belongs to whom. I would prefer a wireless keyboard instead, so they can just type the answer they choose (a/b/c/d, t or f, y or n).

  4. senorvn

    April 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Nice try, Microsoft. Limitation: max. of 15 wireless mice. The main thing I don’t like is that everybody’s mouse is visible to everyone else. Microsoft bills this as a replacement for student response systems, but there is one HUGE problem with that. With SRS, no one knows what anyone else answers (privacy and integrity). With this, people will soon figure out the “smart kid’s” cursor image and will click the same answer she/he clicks everytime. That’s not a formative assessment of if they’re getting it, that’s a formative assessment of how fast can they figure out which cursor belongs to whom. I would prefer a wireless keyboard instead, so they can just type the answer they choose (a/b/c/d, t or f, y or n).

  5. chernand

    April 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    This sounds like a fantastic learning tool. Could anyone at Microsoft (or any elementary teacher) have come up with a name that has a more positive connotation than mischief??

  6. chernand

    April 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    This sounds like a fantastic learning tool. Could anyone at Microsoft (or any elementary teacher) have come up with a name that has a more positive connotation than mischief??

  7. thafemann

    May 4, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Nice toy for the classroom. It might help some teachers start using some technology as the mouse is not too intimidating. I am still trying to figure out which mice they are using.

  8. thafemann

    May 4, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Nice toy for the classroom. It might help some teachers start using some technology as the mouse is not too intimidating. I am still trying to figure out which mice they are using.

  9. virtual teacher

    May 4, 2010 at 11:04 am

    As a virtual teacher, I’ve found there definitely needs to be anonymity in students’ responses. We use Elluminate, in GCA, to virtually teach students across the state. Using that web tool, we have the choice to make the responses visble or not. After students choose their answers (a-e/y+n),choices may be ‘published’ to the screen’ for everyone to see. It is also shown in percentage form. I then will comment on their choices and the right/wrong answers. It offers a great opportunity to get a glimpse of their very own comprehension or their lack thereof. It has also been a terrific resource in helping kids review for state-mandated standardized testing.

  10. virtual teacher

    May 4, 2010 at 11:04 am

    As a virtual teacher, I’ve found there definitely needs to be anonymity in students’ responses. We use Elluminate, in GCA, to virtually teach students across the state. Using that web tool, we have the choice to make the responses visble or not. After students choose their answers (a-e/y+n),choices may be ‘published’ to the screen’ for everyone to see. It is also shown in percentage form. I then will comment on their choices and the right/wrong answers. It offers a great opportunity to get a glimpse of their very own comprehension or their lack thereof. It has also been a terrific resource in helping kids review for state-mandated standardized testing.

  11. TRoberts

    May 4, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    A free classroom set of wireless mice to go along with the software would be nice…

  12. TRoberts

    May 4, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    A free classroom set of wireless mice to go along with the software would be nice…

  13. smunnell

    May 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    This is Microsoft’s solution to becoming irrelevant and to keep teachers tied to their product so they won’t abandon PowerPoint for free products and tools, like Google docs.

  14. smunnell

    May 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    This is Microsoft’s solution to becoming irrelevant and to keep teachers tied to their product so they won’t abandon PowerPoint for free products and tools, like Google docs.

  15. degener

    May 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    If every student has a mouse and therefore a computer, why not use something like QuickieQ which is web based and offers so much more?

  16. degener

    May 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    If every student has a mouse and therefore a computer, why not use something like QuickieQ which is web based and offers so much more?

  17. Eric

    May 6, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    @TRoberts – We have a contest running over at I Heart Ed Tech (.com) where you can win an entire room full of mice, along with some hubs and a full copy of Office! Check it out…

    @senorvn – It’s a valid concern, but, when you get a chance to use Mouse Mischief you’ll quickly see that the teacher can an initiate a new session each time making it quite impossible for kids to know who “the smart kids are”. Each session = new mouse icons.

    To your other point, we support more than 15 wireless mice. As stated on our product’s benefits page: “Approximately 5–25 students, each with his or her own mouse, can answer multiple choice questions and draw on a shared screen.”

    Please reach out to me if you have any more questions or concerns! Thanks eSchool News for the post!

    Best,

    Eric B.
    Community Manager, Mouse Mischief
    @mousemischief

  18. Eric

    May 6, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    @TRoberts – We have a contest running over at I Heart Ed Tech (.com) where you can win an entire room full of mice, along with some hubs and a full copy of Office! Check it out…

    @senorvn – It’s a valid concern, but, when you get a chance to use Mouse Mischief you’ll quickly see that the teacher can an initiate a new session each time making it quite impossible for kids to know who “the smart kids are”. Each session = new mouse icons.

    To your other point, we support more than 15 wireless mice. As stated on our product’s benefits page: “Approximately 5–25 students, each with his or her own mouse, can answer multiple choice questions and draw on a shared screen.”

    Please reach out to me if you have any more questions or concerns! Thanks eSchool News for the post!

    Best,

    Eric B.
    Community Manager, Mouse Mischief
    @mousemischief