Two different interactive opportunities have flown by the radar in the last few days that are worth sharing. The first is attached to the Smart Technologies “Smart Response” system. These remote units have been available for quite some time (recently rebranded, you may recognize the device under its previous moniker: Senteo), but a new version — VE — allows students to interact with questions created through Smart Notebook, on mobile devices (iPod, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Nintendo DS: basically any device that can browse the web). The set up is similar to the process required to create lessons for the traditional Smart Response/Senteo units.
In order to activate this functionality, you need to have the Smart Response software installed. If you have previously used this software for other versions of the Smart Response Hardware, you will need to go to Start > SMART Technologies > Smart Response > Setup Tool and select SMART Response VE. Currently is looks as though you can only interact with each assessment using one type of device, so you couldn’t outfit half the class with Senteos and have the other half use their iPod Touches.
Once you’ve enabled SMART Response VE as the unit of choice for the assessment, upon initiation of the assessment a pop up instructs you audience to visit http://response.smarttech.com/ and enter the Assessment Code. From there, any mobile device in the room becomes a SMART Response unit. You can also access and use the site from a laptop, but you will notice that the website has been formatted to fit the smaller mobile device screen.
Sample question sets can be found here: http://exchange.smarttech.com/search.html?m=05
The other, similar interface, is Microsoft’s new Mouse Mischief Powerpoint Add-on: http://www.microsoft.com/multipoint/mouse-mischief/en-us/default.aspx which adds a similar sort of interactivity to Powerpoint presentations (There are a number of demo videos on the mouse mischief website detailing how to set this up and use it in your classroom). This set up is a bit more involved than the SMART Response system, requiring bluetooth mice and usb hubs to receive the signal from said mice, but the result is the same: allowing teachers to gauge understanding and engage the students interactively in the lesson. Like the SMART Exchange website, Microsoft is inviting teachers to share lessons and resources in this directory: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/CT010375179.aspx?redir=0
Devices like these are of course limited to very simple questioning, and don’t allow for the depth available in “elbow partner” knowledge-consolidation opportunities; but used effectively, these are two tools that bring the functionality of expensive clicker devices within grasp of the classroom.