Wireless or corded? Standard or trackball? Trackpad or mini-mouse? Left-handed or right-handed? Optical or laser? There are so many different types of mice to choose from, all with their own specific advantages. Special education students may benefit from the use of non-standard mice, allowing them to more comfortably utilize a computer in the classroom setting.
The mice I currently use in my classroom are standard corded mice that came with the computer systems that my school purchased. One good quality of these mice is that they are easily adjustable to be used by left- and right-handed students. In Windows, you can swap the function of the left- and right-click buttons. In Windows XP, go to Start, Printers & Other Hardware, Mouse, and then select Switch primary & secondary buttons. Under this menu there are also many other useful features that enable you to adapt the mice and make them more user-friendly for students. Other options include increasing or decreasing the cursor speed, left-clicking and dragging without having to hold the left button down (ClickLoc), making the pointer larger or a different color, and modifying the wheel functions.
Wireless Optical Mice
I currently use a wireless optical mouse. One advantage to this is I can flip over my clipboard where I write down anecdotal records, and then I am able to walk around with my mouse and still interact with what is showing on the SMART Board. One disadvantage of this mouse is that it needs batteries. For this reason, I keep plenty of rechargeable AA batteries on hand. However, a consideration that you should take into account when purchasing wireless mice is that students might accidently pack them with their belongings if switching between classes.
While both of the previous types of mice may work well in your classrooms, there are other options that are also available. One type of mouse that I have used with students who have mobility impairments or difficulty wrapping their hands around and moving the mouse is a Trackball. With this type of mouse, the movement of the mouse is controlled by a ball that is placed on the top. Depending on the placement of the ball, the mouse can be controlled by just using your thumb or by the palm of your hand.
If you are using laptops in your classroom, you will have to decide if you need to purchase additional mice. Using the TrackPad is the default method of tracking the cursor on a laptop. Your students may find this method difficult to manipulate, as it is even difficult for the everyday computer user. However, there are alternate options. One option would be to purchase a small laptop mouse. This mouse was developed to be smaller than a regular mouse and is easy for traveling. They are typically wireless and are connected through a USB receiver. Another option is a mini handheld trackball mouse. However, because of its small size, it may not be the best choice for some special education students. Standard and larger trackball mice are also compatible for laptops and may be the best option for your students.
Laser & Bluetooth Mice
The most recent adaptations to mice are the development of laser and Bluetooth mice. Laser mice allow for more accurate and precise movement when compared to an optical mouse. Laser mice are typically used by gamers and by graphic and video designers. Bluetooth connections allow for a mouse to be wirelessly connected either with a small USB receiver or with built-in technology on laptops.
There are many choices of mice on the market. Taking into account your classroom needs now and in the future can help you to better determine which type of mice will work best in your classroom. For a relatively small investment, your students will have more accessibility to computers in your classroom.
Article by Laura Ketcham
Photo by 1Happysnapper