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).
Distribution is via a web-based viewer and does not require an Office installation. Microsoft is providing a cloud repository and site for access, viewing, and analytics. You can read more about the offering here: http://www.geekwire.com/2014/microsoft-wades-education-office-mix/ and here: https://mix.office.com/
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.