For some time now, Microsoft has been involved in an ongoing dialogue with teachers, school administrators and students to explore how we can best enhance learning experiences.  We discovered, regardless of geographic location, that students are excited about the use of technology in the classroom, and engagement and participation increases with improved access to education technology.

 

A common challenge we heard from teachers was that in many classrooms—especially ones without the budget to support technology access for every student—many students don’t have the opportunity to engage directly with technology.  Additionally, we learned that many teachers already use and love PowerPoint, but using it by itself as a presentation tool can limit interactivity and collaboration.  A solution was needed to turn students from passive observers to active participants.

 

Today, we are announcing the official release of Mouse Mischief—a solution that lets teachers create interactive presentations making classroom learning more engaging.   Mouse Mischief integrates with PowerPoint 2010 and 2007, allowing teachers to create multiple-choice, matching and drawing question slides that students, each with their own computer mouse, can answer on a shared screen.   You can watch a video demo here that explains more about how it works.

 

 

                                              

 

 

Microsoft originally created and piloted Mouse Mischief as a Microsoft Research project examining how to make technology more relevant in the classroom.  We were pleasantly surprised by the initial response: teachers using the product told us that student engagement and overall participation has gone up significantly.  In fact, it was so well received by students that in some classrooms, teachers take a student’s mouse—and ability to participate in Mouse Mischief lessons—away as punishment for bad behavior.  Considering this enthusiasm, we decided to build out Mouse Mischief as a more formal technology solution to be available to classrooms everywhere.

 

The ubiquity and low cost of mice as a common peripheral makes Mouse Mischief a cost-effective solution, especially given tight classroom budgets.  And with Mouse Mischief, there’s no need for teachers to learn a new application – the seamless PowerPoint integration lets teachers make their content interactive quickly and painlessly.

 

Watching Mouse Mischief being used by a classroom full of students reveals other, unexpected benefits—for example, the ability to draw in shy or non-participative children.   In one school, I was introduced to a student who would typically never raise his hand or participate, but after using Mischief in class, he turned around 180 degrees and became one of the class’ biggest contributors.  We’ve seen this same thing happen in lots of classrooms—when using Mouse Mischief, students don’t feel insecure or ‘on stage’ when answering questions; if they get an answer right, they receive positive feedback, if they’re wrong, they can fix it without humiliation. Getting all students to participate every time helps teachers have better visibility into the progress and comprehension of their class so they can adjust lessons on the spot. See for yourself—here’s another video showing how one classroom (at Sultan Elementary School in Sultan, WA) responded to Mouse Mischief.

                                                          

 

 

Finally, one of the most promising aspects of Mouse Mischief is the opportunity for educators to upload and share their own Mouse Mischief templates and curriculum.   Through the Multiple-Mouse community page we have created on Office.com, teachers can easily distribute and explore Mouse Mischief presentations.  This has the potential to empower a global social network of sharing and learning encompassing educators around the world, helping teachers find road-tested best practices to integrate into their curriculum.

 

If you want to learn more, just check out our Newsroom at the Microsoft News Center, Mouse Mischief on Twitter, and much more at the Mouse Mischief website.

 

--Ira Snyder, General Manager, Windows MultiPoint Solutions

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