Microsoft is continuing the beta rollout of the online education authoring and delivery platform Office Mix. As we have discussed previously, Office Mix is an add-in to Microsoft Powerpoint which allows one to develop online lectures and presentations that include video narration, inking for noting and highlighting, inline assessments/surveys, and screen capture demos.
Distinguished scientist Anoop Gupta from Microsoft and professor Andy Dam of Brown University gave a demonstration of Mix in association with the recent Microsoft Research Faculty Summit:
Office Mix allows you to use Powerpoint tools to create a rich online presentation on a PC, and then deliver that content via a number of supported browsers in a cross-platform manner using cloud-based storage. Microsoft recently added an API which makes it relatively easy to create “labs” (simulators, calculators, animations, etc.) that will run in the Mix viewer across various browser and OS platforms.
At Course Gateway we consider Mix as a possible game-changer in terms of ease of authoring and delivery, but there are a number of issues we are tracking:
– How well will Office Mix interact with existing Learning Management Systems and Digital Content repositories?
– What are facilities for tagging and searching Mix content?
– What are supported models for sharing and linking Mix presentations, ranging from free public access to fine-grained pay-per-view options?
– What it the depth and breadth of Microsoft’s commitment to Office Mix as part of the evolving Office productivity suite?
This summer Microsoft is rolling out an authoring and delivery tool, called Office Mix, that seems likely to drive down the cost of preparing online lessons and tutorials, and of building digital collections for education, decision support and knowledge management. Office Mix extends Powerpoint 2013 (with the addition of a web camera) to enable users to create online course content in a process not unlike creating a Powerpoint presentation. MS Office already runs on tens of millions of desktops, laptops and tablets worldwide. If Mix succeeds, the dominant role of MS Office in word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations will likely extend into the preparation of tagged digital tutorial objects (online lessons).
The importance of Office Mix is that it will allow a much wider set of participants to create online course content. A module is essentially an online accessible Powerpoint file, that includes video commentary, inline quiz assessments, screen capture demonstrations as well as all existing Powerpoint animation and presentation options. The ease of creation and distribution will make it much easier to create sets of digital learning objects for a wide range of topics, without the need to partner with a platform provider or invest in expensive video capture and presentation integration infrastructure. We see huge potential applications in vocational education and on-demand decision support instruction. Content creation can be by faculty or instructors, but can also extended to professional practitioners and other user-generated content sources.
We will be following the development and rollout of Office Mix closely, especially as regards cross-platform support and business models. Microsoft is providing the add-in and hosting for free at this time, but that may not last.