Mouse Mischief: Increasing Student Engagement in the Classroom

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, 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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Comments (7)

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  1. Susan Klausmeyer says:

    I can’t wait to start using this in the classroom.  As a computer teacher, I think it will be useful for checking understanding of different programs.

  2. Jo Anna Moreland says:

    What a great opportunity for teachers to put to use materials they already have in their curriculum! As a tech integrator my teachers would love anything to engage their students!

  3. Doreen says:

    I’m exciting to try it out. Just need a few more mice…

  4. I would love to use this program as an engaging test prep tool. I teach 3rd grade and love new engaging activities for students. How excited would students be to review for a test while competing in teams, all the while I can monitor their comprehension?!?!

  5. D Bavers says:

    I am enlightened by this ! In fact this is awesome! I am wondering if anyone has ideas for or where I can get grant money for a large number of mice ? Any implementaton of this will be met with:" Where are we going to get mice?"

  6. Faye Foster says:

    Thank you Microsoft!  What a great way to get students involved with the lessons!  We can’t afford to purchase the student response systems for all of our classrooms, but this is a great way to do the same thing for far less money.  Students will love using this system!

  7. J Sanders says:

    Great job Microsoft!  As a high school business teacher I would use this amazing tool to keep all students engaged and confident that they are learning.  I love the option for allowing teamwork – always good during the learning phase for students.  My Accounting classes could use it to identify the debit and credit side of the t-accounts affected by business transactions.  My Business Finance students could identify the correct amount of payroll taxes.  Computer classes could identify commands or terms or software choices for completing projects or…!

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