Microsoft wades into education again with ‘Office Mix’ tool for PowerPoint

(Last Updated On: May 10, 2014)

It’s not easy being the big kid at the popular children’s pool. Yet that’s exactly where Microsoft finds itself with today’s launch of Office Mix into the now-hot education technology market.

However, it never hurts for a new arrival to bring treats. And Microsoft’s treat is that Office Mix is free.

Office Mix is an add-in to PowerPoint 2013 (either as part of Office 2013 or Office 365) that signals Microsoft’s push into online and interactive education. After visiting the Office Mix portal, educators (or anyone) can download the add-in that causes a Mix ribbon to appear within PowerPoint.

From that ribbon, teachers click buttons to integrate quizzes and videos into the PowerPoint, record narration or video, add whiteboard-like drawings, and essentially turn what might have been a static series of slides into a full-on multimedia lesson.

Then the link to the Mix-ifyed PowerPoint is shared via email and viewed by students in the cloud without using Office, as long as they have a supported web browser (at this moment, that includes Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari on laptop and desktop computers, but not yet Apple or Android tablets or smartphones, though that’s promised soon. Teachers are able to track which students have viewed the Mix and their performance on any embedded quizzes. For offline non-interactive viewing, mixes can be exported to MP4 video.

Office Mix is technically in what Microsoft calls “customer preview,” which is somewhere between beta and general release. The add-in has its roots in Microsoft Research work dating back to 2012, and as General Manager Shanen Boettcher of Microsoft’s Startup Business Group noted, “We’re not done with the product.” He told me he’s looking for feedback from educators on “how they’re using it, and what they wish they had.”


Source: GeekWire

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