Monday, June 28, 2010

Microsoft Mouse Mischief: Having Fun While Learning in the Classroom

When the mail announcing Mouse Mischief from Microsoft arrived in my inbox, I said to myself - Ah ha! Finally, a software with a cool name. The last cool name I heard was YawnBuster. But you know, I'm biased.

The idea of the Microsoft product is real simple. The teacher creates a PowerPoint presentation which contains questions, surveys and drawing activities. The cool part comes when you play the presentation. Up to five hundred (!) students in the classroom can be connected to your presentation via their mice, and they can simply start answering questions, completing pictures or filling out surveys. The presentation displays the aggregate of all students' activities. For example, twenty students answered "Yes" and ten others "No".

There are several good things about Mouse Mischief. It does not require proprietary hardware - which can be prohibitive to procure and a pain to maintain and distribute in class. Two, it integrates nicely with PowerPoint. Three, it is free.

The underlying concept of Mouse Mischief, namely, using commonly used hardware and software for fostering interactivity in learning, is appealing. It is heartening to see Microsoft doing something in this space.