Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mouse Mischief Beta is Here

Microsoft have just released their multipoint program called Mouse Mischief. It is free to download and very easy to set up. You can trial it with just a couple of mice to get the idea. Lessons are easy to create using the powerpoint addin.

Download it here.

http://www.microsoft.com/multipoint/mouse-mischief

Have fun!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

MyMouseGames

With this multi-mice platform you can connect as many mice as you want. I have 25 connected here. This is the games dashboard where all your saved games are kept. Here you you can select games to play or edit.
In this Classroom page, each student or user gets to write their own name using the onscreen keyboard. This feature gives feedback to each student and the teacher at the completion of every session.
There are a variety of games that you can choose. There are competitive, collaborative and parallel gaming platforms.
In pursuit of expanding the Multi-Mouse educational advantages, I learned that the Dickenson Brothers in America won the Imagine Cup in Egypt in 2009. They developed a platform using silverlight and multipointweb which enables multiple mice to simultaneously play educational games. Here's the link. http://www.mymousegames.com/ My classroom in this site is called joestewart. I have started designing a variety of games to use next year. The children absolutely love these games. They are fun and very engaging and from an educational perspective are just excellent. Content is easily developed to suit any lesson content. I extend my congratulations and support to the Dickenson brothers especially Jimmy who has been an enormous support to me and the students in my class. Thank you for the wonderful games platform arena. We will use it a lot throughout 2010.

MOUSE MISCHIEF

This was the second multi-mouse platform that was made available to me. I have been using this software now since June 2009. It is the best Student Response System (SRS) that I have come across. It far surpasses anything else I have seen in regards to features and functionality. It is still in its development stage so I can't share the software. Hopefully Microsoft will release a beta version in the middle of January 2010.

After all Mice are activated and the teacher enters the password, a screen appears which allows you to select any lesson you have created.



The teacher then selects a class which is easily customisable to accommodate any student names.
I now have many classes using this. Also, I have set it up for English Based Activities, Maths Based Activities etc.



The children then get to select their very own cursor. These cursors are excellent as they are easily identifiable by individual students as they are different colours, letters or numbers and point indifferent dirrections. Usually, students select the cursor that begins with their name. I've had to add a few extra cursors of the same letter for those students who have names starting with the same letter.



In the next screen, children get to select their name from the list. Then the lesson can begin.



 It was developed to be primarily used in developing nations as they don't have the funds for children to access technology. The benefits of its use in our classrooms during 2009 has been amazing. The children in my class were so excited as they were the first class in Australia to use this experimental software. Everyone who has seen it agrees that it far surpasses any Student Response System that they have seen. CEO sponsored me to build a simultaneous multi user Interface. 25 wireless mice with a 15 metre range capable of concurrency and simultaneous individual use, all hooked up to one lap top. The learning curve over the past year has been HUGE!!! My whiteboard can now accommodate my whole class with individual cursors for each student that track and score their progress. They can all click and drag objects simultaneously - all 25 students, draw simultaneously, use on screen keyboards and numeric keypads simultaneously to enter data on the screen in their individual workspaces, vote on multiple choice questions using their wireless mouse by using the mouse buttons eg left click = A, right click = B, middle click = C, left/right click = D etc. I've been so busy with this project that it has taken up so much of my spare time. It has been hectic but I reckon I have the 1st true collaborative multiuser interface in an Australian classroom which is now virtually a plug and play set up in the size of a shoe box. I found the best thing about this is that once I got more than 2 students using the traditional IWB out the front, the rest of the class couldn't see what was happening. This new system allows every student to interact simultaneously from their desks, no one blocks the screen, you don't have to waste time as kids wait to take turns and it is so much more engaging.

Class set of Mice on desks ready for distribution.
video



Presentation to Education Lecturers at Southern Cross University.
video

Setting up 30 Mice to be used by 1 laptop




When I first started asking in May 2009 if you could have more than one mouse connected to a computer the anser was "Yes, but they would fight over the cursor".
I wanted to connect 30 wireless mice, each with its own unique cursor. I spoke to many people in I.T and Computer stores without any success so I was on my own.

I now know that it is theoretically possible to connect 256 mice to a computer and operate up to 10,000 wireless mice in the one room without interference!!!!
Here's photos of my set up.

As you can see, each mouse has a micro-receiver pluggeg in to a usb hub. The usb hubs are 7 port hubs. I now have 5 of these. The first hub is plugged into the laptop. The other hubs all plug into this one.

HOT TIP!! Number each mouse and micro-receiver. This helps if you run into difficulties if a mouse stops working. As each receiver is specifically coded to the mouse at the factory, you can keep track of what is plugged in to where.

You are now ready for MULTI- MICE fun and games.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

TEAMPLAYER and Multi-Mice


I made a dozen or more pens for my students to use the wiimote iwb but there now was another problem. 1. The wiimote can not differentiate more than 1 IR Pen. 2. Once there are more than 2 students out he front the rest of the class cannot physically see the screen. The Interactive Whiteboard is really a MONOACTIVE white board.

I wanted a system that could engage more than 1 student at a time. I pressed the issue but was told by many experts that this could not happen effectively. I wanted multi-touch!! Even commercial products didn't really offer this, at least not affordably.

After trolling through dozens of sites looking for a solution I came across this website. Yes, the photos are of my class using it at the start of the year with wired mice and the quote is mine.



Wunderworks, a company based in the Netherlands very generously gave me the program for my class to trial in exchange for feedback and support with this developing technology. A very special thank you to Maarten Terpstra for all his support and advice throughout the year. The children LOVE this software. Now every student can use the board at exactly the same time. The Sandbox projects are excellent and have so much potential. I use it frequently for spelling, maths and collaborative learning. Every student is engaged 100% of the time. No one has to wait for their turn. All can interact with the shared "learnspace" without having to leave their seat.




Wht a HUGE, HUGE advantage. Simultaneous interaction with the whiteboard from their desk!!!!! Previously, so much time was WASTED as students, one at a time came out to use the board, click on the object then hand the pen to another student, return to their seat, wait for the next student to walk out the front for their turn, click and drag an object, hand the pen to the next student, return to their seat and wait for that student to walk out to the front etc etc. You can see what I mean. So slow and BORING!! And only a FEW got to have a turn in a lesson!


TeamPlayer changed ALL that. After the initial issues of setting up corded mice and testing its capabilities I wanted more!

Corded mice are very reliable and great if you can leave it set up, but classrooms are very dynamic places and desk arrangements change frequently depending on the lesson. Wireless mice are the solution. No matter what your desk configurations are, all students can access the board instantly. No cords to get tangled or trip over.


It's very important to get the right mice and hubs but I'll talk about that in another post.

Wireless control for the wiimote


A large disadvantage to the wiimote IWB was its buttons were inaccessible when mounted on the data projector. I developed a Fishing Line Connection Device -FLiCD - to turn on discovery mode on the wiimote without having to leave my seat. It works seamlessly and Itill use it but some people on the wiimote project said it could be labelled as a contraption.
I then set out to develop an electric wireless system.
My first attempt used a remote central locking system from a car. I pulled apart the wiimote a solder it to connections on the circuit board of the wiimote to "short out" the red sync button and therefore put it into discovery mode. This was an expensive choice.
I then used cheap $10 3 volt wireless doorbells to do the same job. The instructions are very easy to follow and takes about an hour to do. The result though is a very professional system that compares to any commercial rival.

HERE'S HOW IT'S DONE.

How to Make a Remote Control to Turn on Your wiimote.
The Final Frontier to the Professional Set Up.

1. Remove cover off Wiimote. You may need to get a special screwdriver.
2. Carefully remove circuit board from housing.
3. Locate red sync button.
4. Solder white wires from each of the bottom terminal switches. (Nunchuck end). These wires effectively short the red sync button when signal is sent so therefore put the Wiimote into discovery mode when the remote door bell button is pressed.
5. Solder black wire to negative terminal - right side of circuit board.
6. Solder red wire to positive terminal – left side of circuit board.

These four wires will then be soldered to a remote door chime. Find one that is a 3 volt – 2 AA batteries. The battery that powers the push button remote control is a 23A, 12 volt. This just sends the signal so it can’t harm the Wiimote. It will also last a very long time. Probably 2 or more years in a classroom environment. Some Doorbell remotes use “Button” Batteries. It just depends on the brand.
You can buy cheap wireless door bells from Bunnings Hardware stores for about AU$11.00

To install door chime.
The one in the photo has had the original battery compartment cut off to reduce its size. Also I have removed the speaker and the switch for the different songs. The whole unit, both Wiimote and door chime is now powered by a 3 volt AC adapter.

The first thing to do before you remove any switches, cut wires etc is to find out where to solder the white wires which will short the red sync button. Put charged batteries in both the door chime and the wiimote.
A lot of trial and error may be needed so having 2 people helps.
One person to hold the white wires, the other to press the remote and reset the wiimote.
At this stage batteries should be in both the door chime and the Wiimote. I connected up the AC power in the last step to eliminate batteries. (and to ensure that I didn’t hurt myself)
I have virtually no experience in electronics but this method works. It is safe. No matter what I did, it did not compromise the wiimote or door chime. You need to find 2 terminals on the door chime to touch the white wires to that doesn’t start the Wiimote going into discovery mode immediately i.e. Four blue leds blinking. Your assistant will pop out one battery slightly when this happens so you can check another two terminals. – it speeds up the process otherwise you need to wait 20 seconds for it to time out before trying again.
Also the door chime may sound. This can be a little annoying especially after the 20th time of the same ding song.
Once you have found the 2 terminals, press the door bell button to see if it will start the sync. Solder the white wires to these.
Tip 1; try reversing the white wires on the same terminals as there can be a different outcome.
Tip 2; what we are looking for are the terminals that receive the instruction from the door bell remote to then make it chime. It is not the speaker wires. (in a central locking system for a car that I also set up to a Wiimote, I soldered the white wires to the unlock relay. This was more complicated and more expensive as the control locking system was 12 volt as it was initially designed for a car. I then had to build a 12 volt to a 3 volt regulator so that I could send the power from the remote central locking system to the wiimote. $45 for the Central Locking System, $15 for the 12 volt to 3 volt regulator, $15 for the 12 volt power supply and a lot more components time and mucking around to set it up.
The doorbell is by far the easiest and safest way to convert your wiimote.

1. Solder the white wires to the previously determined terminals on the doorchime and test.
2. You can now cut off the speaker to the door chime and retest.
3. There is often a switch to select different tunes. I removed this too but Ihad to short out 2 terminals with a blob of solder so that it thought that it was still connected. It just made things look less complicated but it isn’t necessary.
4. Solder the red wire from the Wiimote to the positive terminal on the door chime. You can follow the wires from the battery compartment if you’re not sure which is which.
5. Solder the black wire from the Wiimote to the negative terminal on the door chime.
6. Replace batteries in the Wiimote and test. You shouldn’t even need batteries in the door chime anymore.


To connect 3 volt AC adapter.
1. Get your 3 volt AC adapter and cut off the connection. Bare the 2 wires.
2. There will be 2 wires. A positive and a negative.
3. The insulated one will be the positive – in this case a white wire.
4. Solder it also the positive terminal on the door chime. Where you soldered the red wire from the wiimote.
5. Put a little heat shrink on the negative wire (if necessary) and solder it to the negative terminal on the door chime along with the black wire from the wiimote.
6. Test again with batteries only in the Wiimote.
7. Take out batteries then plug in AC adapter and test.
8. Successs. A remote control for the Wiimote.

















Assembly and routing of wires.
1. Assembly and wire routing can be up to you but you may need to slightly modify door chime housing and Wiimote housing for wires to pass through.
The soldering iron is excellent for this. Melts plastic and makes holes easily. CAUTION. Don’t breathe in fumes.








Depending on how you intend to mount the wiimote will largely depend on where you want wires coming out and how you will attach the doorchime housing to the wiimote. You could simply place both units in a small electrical box which you buy from Jaycar for a few dollars. Cut out a section in the end of the box for the wiimote camera to stick out of. Hot Glue everything in place. Pass the power cable out the back. Pop rivet a bracket to the casing and mount to the wall, data projector ceiling mount or even the ceiling. There is a huge range of galvanised brackets available for less than $2 from most hardware stores. Builders use them to hang and / or join timber joists and bearers. There are so many types that one will suit. They can also be bent easily if you need to make fine adjustments to the final set up.





I’m even considering just taking out the circuit boards from the wiimote and the door chime and concealing these in an even smaller box. Use silicon to glue them in place. Just need to use the coloured lens from the wiimote for the IR camera and set it in to the end of the box. Should provide a tidy, professional unit which can be done in less than an hour and cost less than $40 to convert.

Parts List.
Soldering Iron and solder.
Wire. You can use any wire from virtually anything.
Heat shrink or electrical tape.
A multimeter to find active terminals or you can trial and error. Remember this is only a 3 volt system so you shouldn’t cause any harm. If in doubt – DON’T!!
Wireless doorbell. If you are going to install several in close proximity, buy ones that have multiple channels to reduce interference. The one for $11 has 16 different channels. You could buy different brands too.
3 Volt AC Adapter. These usually cost about $20 and are available from most electronics stores. I got mine for $1.91 each!!! What a bargain!!

Good Luck and have Fun.
Enjoy and relish in the fact that you have just created a very professional product that will equal many of its rivals but for a mere fraction of the cost!!!!!

This has been produced to enhance the teaching and learning environment of my students in our school. There is no doubt that this technology engages and enthuses children with their learning. For teachers, well the benefits are almost immeasurable. As educators, we now have the latest and the best teaching resources literally at our fingertips at all times. I believe that the time I have invested in researching, setting up, trialling and perfecting this set up will be easily recovered through the higher quality lessons that I can now provide. It will therefore reduce classroom management and behavioural issues (not that I really had any anyway) but it will help me achieve the most important goal - achieving greater academic success for my students.
Cost. PRICELESS!