imageA few years ago I bought a keypad set so that I could create polls and quizzes in PowerPoint. But over time, I drifted away from using them, as it became increasingly difficult to set them up. But I’ve come across something that might well re-ignite my interest in doing talks and presentations with interactive questions. It’s a free product that plugs into PowerPoint 2007, called Mouse Mischief, that was launched in beta form at BETT.

Like all good ideas, the principle is both simple and clever. Basically, you plug lots of mice into your computer (or connect lots of wireless mice). And each one can be used independently to answer questions.

So, if you’re a teacher, and you’re delivering a lesson, you can pepper your PowerPoint with little questions and quizzes, to make it interesting for your class, and to give you instant formative assessment feedback.

imageUsing the Mouse Mischief menu you can simply add Yes/No or Multiple Choice questions in your standard PowerPoint slides, tell it which is the correct answer, and then you’re ready. Because it is a standard PowerPoint slide, you can make the answers visual, not just limited to text. And pupils can either work as individuals, or join a team. Oh, and the teacher’s mouse is the one in control all the time (including a special “Freeze Student Mice” option when in quiz mode)!

And once the answers are in, you can display the results on screen, including a little feature which shows who gave the first correct answer.

It’s a great resource for whole-class or small-group teaching, but either way you’ll need to go looking for some more mice! But I’m willing to bet that you’ve got more spare mice around your school than you have spare polling keypads.

Read an overview of Mouse Mischief here. Unfortunately the beta programme has now closed, so you've got wait a little while for full product release (not long, I promise!)

In small groups, around a PC, then mice plugged into a USB hub will be the answer. Across a classroom, then wireless mice will be the answer (which will cost money, but still be a lot cheaper and easier to buy than wireless polling keypads)