Free tool lets students participate during class

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, 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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