Jan 14, 2010

Shared computing with Windows MultiPoint in classrooms: Why not use Mouse Mischief (beta version)?

I came across this post this on Long Zheng's I Started Something blog:

Windows MultiPoint Server -- a multiseat computing solution worthy for the home?
Long Zheng points out that Window's MultiPoint server is an outgrowth of the Multi-Mouse project, in which students multiple numbers of students can work together to interact with content a PC screen or a projected PC screen.

The picture below shows how a Windows MultiPoint server can work in a classroom.


I'm not so sure I like the set up in the picture of the Multi-Point 2010 system in the above picture. The students all have huge monitors in front of them, so the opportunities for shared or collaborative interaction are limited.  I like the multi-mice concept better, since the children can really be together

Mouse Mischief
Neema Moraveji, of the Stanford University HCI group, has videos and information about the multiple mice-related work on his project Page:

Teachers provide content using an add-on for PowerPoint that allows for simultaneous input from multiple mice.  The teacher can set up limits regarding how the mice are used by  the students.

I tried this with a few students during the 2008-09 school year, and they liked it.  Since I serve more schools this current year, I haven't had the opportunity to explore this further. I plan to download a newer version and try it out soon.

Good news!
The free beta version of Microsoft Mouse Mischief from the Microsoft website was recently released: Microsoft Mouse Mischief: Make your PowerPoint presentations interactive

Below is information about Mouse Mischief from the Microsoft website:

"Mouse Mischief is a tool that Microsoft makes available free of charge, and that allows teachers to work with Microsoft Office PowerPoint to make interactive presentations. With Mouse Mischief, teachers can add multiple choice questions to their presentations, and large groups of students can answer the questions using mice connected to the teacher’s PC."
"Mouse Mischief not only gives students the ability to engage, have fun, and learn in new, interactive ways, but it also provides teachers with a more affordable alternative to purchasing expensive student response systems, commonly known as clickers, by letting students use affordable wired or wireless USB mice that their school already own."
"It’s simple. After Mouse Mischief is installed, the Mouse Mischief toolbar will appear as part of the PowerPoint ribbon when a new or old PowerPoint presentation is opened. This intuitive Mouse Mischief toolbar lets teachers add interactive elements such as multiple-choice question slides with a single click. When the teacher opens a Mouse Mischief enabled presentation, students in the classroom can answer each question by clicking it with their uniquely designed mouse cursor. Once the students have selected their answers, the teacher can display the correct answer...The best part? Mouse Mischief gives teachers the option to have their students answer questions individually or as part of a team, in order to encourage both competition and collaboration in the classroom...Special teacher controls allow the teacher to disable student’s mouse cursors, navigate between slides, set timers, and more. With Mouse Mischief the teacher is always in control, whether there are two or 25 cursors on the screen."

If you are interested in developing applications for Mouse Mischief, you can download Windows MultiPoint Software Development Kit 1.5  This kit allows developers to enable up to 25 mouse devices to work at the same time on one computer. It was released on 1/12/2010 and can be downloaded from the Microsoft website.

Here a plug from Microsoft about the benefits of the MultiPoint Mouse SDK:
"Applications built on the MultiPoint Mouse SDK can provide teachers with tools to gain real-time assessment information to help them provide a personalized learning experience for each of their students...Applications built on the MultiPoint Mouse SDK can increase student learning comprehension through interactive methods.MultiPoint Mouse applications can further a student’s engagement, collaboration, interaction and overall cognitive and social skills within a classroom or lab environment."

Here is the information about the MultiPoint SDK:
"The Windows MultiPoint Mouse SDK version 1.5 is a development framework that allows developers to build applications that enable up to 25 individual mouse devices to work simultaneously on one computer. As a developer, you can use the MultiPoint Mouse SDK to create educational applications that take advantage of collaborative learning methodologies. In schools with minimum infrastructure, MultiPoint Mouse greatly enhances the shared computing experience. Initial pilot programs conducted in India by Microsoft Research show that for certain subjects, MultiPoint Mouse can enhance learning when compared to a 1:1 computing scenario."

"MultiPoint Mouse should not be confused with applications that allow multiple people to control multiple mouse devices to perform standard operations. In those cases, the system traditionally cannot identify which mouse has made which changes, and there is normally no option for controlling the permissions of the various devices. MultiPoint Mouse is a development framework that enables developers to build applications to take advantage of multiple mouse devices, including the ability to handle mouse clicks from different users independently and to assign different permissions to each mouse. For example, the mouse belonging to a teacher in a learning application might need additional permissions to control the activity."

The MultiPoint SDK is compatible with Windows 7, Windows Vista Service Pack 2, Windows XP Service Pack 3, the .NET Framework version 3.5 SP1 or higher, Microsoft Expression Blend (you can use the trial version), Visual Studio 2008 or 2010 (you can use the free Express version), 2-4 mice devices for testing, and USB ports on the computer

Other thoughts:
Schools with money for advanced technology tools have purchased SMARTTables, and few have Microsoft Surface tables.  They are expensive, and don't offer a range of form factors to choose from.

I sort of like the concept behind the multi-user poker table that was in the casino on my cruse ship:

Near the poker table is a display that shows the action from the poker game. In classroom settings, this display could be an interactive whiteboard, a projected display, or even a flat-panel screen.

There is a need for tables of different shapes in the schools. Speech pathologists, school psychologists, counselors, and others who provide guided group activities in the schools could use a multi-user table that follows this tried and true configuration:
I'd love to hear from anyone who is using MultiPoint or Mouse Mischief, and also from anyone who is experimenting with various multi-touch table form factors.

Multple Mice for Computers in Education in Developing Countries (pdf)


Leendert van der Plas said...

I would like to inform you on a Dutch company www.teach32.com. They have developed a Multi-Device SDK supporting a broad range of devices. The SDK is available in .NET and Flash. They also have developed a 8 port Wireless (Wifi) USB Hub, so children can work with a Digital Whiteboard.

Lynn Marentette said...

Thanks for the link!

John Ortiz OrdoƱez said...

Thanks for this useful information. I did not know about Mouse Mischief. It's interesting for school school.

"A Canadian company called Userful claims that it has open source alternative for education establishments faced by the high cost of Windows Multipoint servers: Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011." [@techworld]

John Young said...

Excellent information! Microsoft Mouse Mischief is definitely a more practical way for a classroom to go interactive, rather than just getting a presentation tool, such as the SMARTboard, that only allows a handful of students to participate.

We have tried a few different pointing devices to work with MS Mouse Mischief. So far the best hardware for this application seems to be the Pen Mouse from Salient Technology. (www.pen-mouse.com) Students not only can participate the interactive activities without leaving their seats, they can also use the Pen Mouse on their cluttered desks or on an open book/notebook. (We all know what the classroom student desks look like.)