Microsoft week, I guess, on the K-12 Open Source Classroom blog…
Apparently Microsoft feels like stirring up a hornet’s nest with their latest news of a ‘no-cost alternative’ to the clickers, or student response systems prevalent in today’s K-12 classroom. All the major companies provide their own, including SMART Response from SMART, ActivExpression (I think!) from Promethean, eInstruction, Turning Point, and even Mimio now produces a set of clickers. These tools are used by teachers as a formative assessment tool. The teacher teachers information, then can use a Powerpoint, website, or even a testlet to have students answer questions. The students use their little devices, and the teacher receives information immediately and can adjust her lesson accordingly. The information can be random or can correspond to students.
So now Microsoft wants to enter an already crowded environment. Their tool, the Mouse Mischief, allows teachers using Windows-based OS (surprise, surprise) to provide students with yes-no, multiple choice, and other question types to presentations. Now what I am confused about, or the largest should I say, is how to you allow up to 25 students to participate, as the article (http://www.microsoft.com/multipoint/mouse-mischief/default.aspx_) states. You can use any mouse or input device, and I guess you can share said input device. The software, a free download, allows the teacher to see a special toolbar on their Powerpoint application. From their they can add interactive elements, then students select their answers. The teacher can then see the answers and who answered correctly. It appears, though, Microsoft needs to work out a few bugs, as all results can be seen by all, so students can see how others answer. Maybe that will be worked out in future iterations.
The previous k12 Open Source Classroom post on online, collaborative tools and this one really show Microsoft wants to become a pioneer (read:copycat) in the instructional technology field as Google and Apple are rapidly becoming. Microsoft must really fear their loss of market share in the office suite sector and OS sector, as they continue to try to provide new, free tools that rely on their existing applications. The Mouse Mischief, for example, only works with Office 2007 and 2010. Definitely another example of Microsoft trying to keep the world proprietary.