Here are four ways to help a student who is having difficulty with the mouse:
Change how the mouse works
The mouse can be customized in many ways to make it easier for students to use. For instance, you can swap the functions of your mouse buttons, make the mouse pointer more visible, and alter the scroll speed of the mouse scroll wheel.
First, it might be helpful to review the basics about using the mouse and to watch the Learning to use the mouse demo.
The computer mouse can be easily customized with a few simple adjustments.
Change the way mouse buttons work
Students who have trouble double-clicking quickly can change the double-click speed slider to slower. And those who can’t hold down the mouse button long enough to highlight or drag items can turn on the ClickLock feature, which lets you highlight and drag without holding the mouse button down.
You can also change the button configuration to swap the functions of the mouse buttons. Gone are the days when left-handed students had to adapt to the right-handed majority ways as best they could. Now, thankfully, they can write with their left hand, and they can even adjust the mouse buttons for a more natural fit. You can reverse what the mouse buttons do to make it more natural for either a left-handed or right-handed student. And don’t forget to let all students experiment and try the mouse with each hand. Many people find that one hand is more natural for controlling the mouse, regardless of which hand they use to write.
Change how the mouse pointer works
Keeping up with the rapid movement of the mouse across the screen is often a challenge for students. To make it easier to follow mouse pointer movements, change the motion settings—select the speed at which the pointer moves on the screen, and enhance pointer precision to more accurately control when the mouse moves.
Change how the mouse wheel works
That wheel on the mouse isn’t as fixed as it may seem. You can adjust how many lines—or characters, for mice that support horizontal scrolling—the pointer moves with each notch of the wheel. By limiting how far the pointer moves when scrolling, you can help to give the students a greater sense of control and to ensure that the pointer doesn’t outrun the student’s eye on the screen. For students who have trouble navigating to the proper page, you can set the wheel to scroll one screen at a time.
See a demo: How to change mouse settings.
Here’s how to change settings for the mouse button, wheel, and pointer:
Make it easier to find the mouse pointer
Students might find the mouse more compelling to use if they customize the pointer.
Another way you can help students learn to follow the mouse pointer is by making it easier for them to see it as it moves. There are visibility options that let you display pointer trails and an option that you can turn on to show the location of the pointer.
Here’s how to change how the mouse pointer looks:
Adopt a new, smaller pet mouse
For some students, no matter how many adjustments you make to the mouse, it just won’t work well enough for them to learn with it. Smaller mice, designed for laptop users and mobile use, might fit the hands of young students better. And these smaller mice may be not only easier for them to control but also more fun for them to use. You can find a variety of colorful designs on the Microsoft hardware and mobile mice page.
Reach out and touch
With a touchscreen, students can interact with the computer in a direct and simple way, using their fingers, instead of struggling with the mouse or a mouse alternative. If your budget allows for buying a new PC, consider getting one with a built-in touchscreen. If not, you can look into getting one of the touchscreens that can be added to an existing computer. Windows Touch works with touchscreens to enable students to tap the screen, scroll with a finger, and even finger-paint.
See a demo: Windows Touch.
If a student is having trouble manipulating the mouse, they might also have trouble typing. Touching the screen may help these students, too. Windows On-Screen Keyboard can be resized and customized to make it easier for individual students to use.
The Windows On-Screen Keyboard can help students who have trouble typing.
See a demo: On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 7.
Here’s how to use the On-Screen Keyboard :
If these ideas don’t work, there are still more alternatives you can try. Joysticks can be plugged into the computer’s mouse port and used to control the cursor on the screen. Joysticks benefit users who need to operate a computer with or without the use of their hands. For example, some people might operate the joystick with their feet or with the use of a cup on top of the joystick that can be manipulated with their chin. Trackballs (like the one pictured here) look like an upside-down mouse with a movable ball on top of a stationary base. The ball can be rotated with a pointing device or a hand. People who have fine motor skills but lack gross motor skills can use these devices more easily and comfortably than they can use a traditional mouse.