MetaMouse is a freely available, University of California developed software tool that easily allows schools to increase the utility of their computers up to five times.
MetaMouse allows existing single-player educational games and other software to be shared by multiple users in a collaborative manner. With MetaMouse, students can plug in and use up to five mice per computer, one per student. For each mouse used, a uniquely colored cursor appears on the screen.
MetaMouse preferences can be set to necessitate collaboration among students. This is done by not allowing a single mouse click to work independently. Rather, all students must collaborate by jointly pointing their cursors on or near the agreed upon object and then clicking. It is a surprisingly effective tool!
MetaMouse has been tested at the University of California and in low-income government schools in Bangalore, India. Each school supported hundreds of students with only four to six computers. Using MetaMouse, each computer supported up to five students working together, rather than only one. It was confirmed that MetaMouse increased collaboration and engagement for the students. Also, MetaMouse was shown to be better at teaching basic computer skills than traditional single-mouse sharing.
MetaMouse only requires inexpensive USB mice and an off-the-shelf USB hub. No other new purchases are required. MetaMouse works with existing educational games, curricula, and classroom pedagogy. MetaMouse gives students greater human interactions while using computers.
The current version of MetaMouse works on Windows XP. Future versions will work on Windows 7, MacIntosh, and Linux. Additionally, MetaMouse is being tested for use on SMART Boards.