More on Microsoft’s Mouse Mischief

Last month I blogged about a new product (then in beta) from Microsoft called Mouse Mischief.  This product allows multiple students to interact with a PowerPoint slide projected on the big screen in a classroom.  Each student needs his or her own wireless mouse to do so.  Each student has a unique cursor on the big screen, allowing them to respond to clicker-style multiple-choice questions embedded in PowerPoint slides.  Check out the video below.

As I noted in my earlier post, this system has a very significant flaw as a replacement for a “traditional” clicker system.  Since students can see how their peers are responding to questions, it’s impossible for students to respond independently.  That means that many students will likely wait to see how their peers respond before jumping on the bandwagon and selecting the most popular answer.

Mouse Mischief is now out of beta, and a colleague sent me a link to the above video.  Now that I’ve seen the promotional video, I’m starting to see more potential in Mouse Mischief.  Not as a replacement for clickers–my earlier concern about independent voting still stands–but as a way to allow students to interact with text and images shared with the class.  Imagine sharing a portion of reading with students and having them take turns highlighting quotes that support a particular argument, with each student discussing his or her quote with the class.  Or showing students a complex medical diagnostic image and having them take turns circling abnormalities and sharing possible causes for or effects of those abnormalities.

Given how the system works, having students respond simultaneously to questions doesn’t make much sense.  However, having students interact with text or images in sequence has some real potential.  There are other ways to implement these kinds of activities–having students take turns coming up to the instructor’s computer or interactive white board or having students use laptops to log in to the same Google Doc–but in some teaching contexts, Mouse Mischief might be a very practical option.

What do you think?  Do you see applications for this kind of tool in your classrooms?

Image: “Wireless Mouse” by Flickr user kengo / Creative Commons licensed

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