What is it?
Office Mix is a PowerPoint plugin that allows you to easily create interactive, multi-media learning objects.
How does it work?
Once you’ve installed the free plugin, Mix is just another tab in PowerPoint. You can use an existing presentation or start from scratch to…
- Include all normal PowerPoint functionality (including animations and embedding existing video and audio)
- Take screenshots
- Record your screen with audio and/or webcam
- Record your PowerPoint slides with drawing, highlighting and audio and/or webcam
- Create simple quiz questions
- Embed third-party interactive content
When you’re finished, the final version is uploaded to the Office Mix website (for interactive elements) and/or turned into a video. Interactive Mix learning objects can be embedded in other sites, including duo, or accessed on the Mix site with a hyperlink. Mixes can also be exported as a video which you can upload into duo using Kaltura (though you will lose any interactions in the video format).
What do you need?
- Windows computer or laptop (sorry it is not available in Office for Mac)
- PowerPoint 2013 or newer
- Office Mix plugin
What could it be used for?
Office Mix is best suited to highly structured, linear learning that students can work through independently. This would include teaching for online modules/programmes, instructional elements of blended learning or flipped classes, and one-off development, training and instructional materials. While Mix would not usually be the only element of a course, it could be an engaging alternative to lectures, text-based materials or training sessions when coupled with discussion, group learning and practical exercises.
You might consider Mix if…
- You would like to free up face-to-face time for questions, discussion and active learning.
- Learners would benefit from being able to access materials more flexibly (pause, watch again, use for revision, check their understanding).
- You can identify discrete elements of your teaching that could be delivered effectively in this highly structured medium.
- You would like to add more complexity to your teaching that might not be technically possible/feasible/convenient in a classroom (e.g. demonstrating specialist software or equipment, sharing longer videos, giving virtual tours, allowing for extended reflection).
- The material you wish to present has a certain level of longevity (i.e. you deliver the same material year after year, and it is unlikely that new research or developments will necessitate large changes to recordings).
- Office Mix is quite intuitive, and new users can gradually add more functionality as they get used to the Mix plugin.
- The ability to use existing sets of slides can help users get started quickly.
- Embedding in duo allows Mix projects to be contextualised within the students’ whole learning experience. There is also the option for quiz results to be recorded in the Grade Centre.
- Office Mix provides its own analytics, allowing you to see how the learning object is being used (if uploaded onto the Office Mix server).
Drawbacks and issues
- The requirement that interactive* Mixes be hosted on a Microsoft server raises a number of issues to be aware of:
- Although you retain ownership of the content, there is the risk that Mixes may unexpectedly become inaccessible or disappear from the website.
- While Mixes embedded in duo can remain as ‘Unlisted’ or ‘Limited’, Microsoft do not guarantee privacy for shared Mixes. Sensitive information should never be included in a Mix. This also means that others can potentially reshare or repurpose your Mixes.
- Privacy. If you use someone else’s Mix, then they will see any usage data – e.g. scores for any tests within their Mix – from the Office Mix Analytics pages. Whether or not they can identify the individual (e.g. see their name) depends on what data is passed to the Mix on launch. However, we have setup a special integration from duo that does not pass personal details (see the Office Mix Guides for more details).
- Office Mix is still being developed, and so comes with some bugs, annoyances and limitations; for example:
- Office Mix only starts outputting analytical data when ten users have viewed a Mix; this data is only available in a spreadsheet.
- There is not an option to name slides (in the Table of Contents, they appear as thumbnail images, labelled ‘Slide 1’, ‘Slide 2’, etc.).
- Interactive features do not work on mobile devices. If a video has been produced alongside the Mix, and the Mix is opened in a mobile device, the user will see the video only.
*Remember that, if you do not include interactions, you can create a video to be hosted within duo and not on the Office Mix server.
Office Mix is an intuitive plugin that will be useful in certain contexts and for certain kinds of learning. Anyone who is interested in using it should experiment first, and take its limitations as well as its benefits into consideration before beginning a big Mix project.