MIXING IT UP: Microsoft today launched its open “customer preview” of the free Office Mix add-in for PowerPoint. Aimed at educators, Office Mix is designed to turn PowerPoint 2013 presentations into online, interactive lessons through a new Mix ribbon that includes buttons for integrating quizzes and videos, recording narration, and adding whiteboard-type drawing. Once built, the multimedia mix can be distributed to students via email and viewed in the Office Mix portal in most web browsers (but not, yet, on Apple or Android tablets or smartphones).
And from where might videos or quizzes come? Microsoft has established partnerships with Khan Academy and CK-12 Foundation to directly incorporate their exercises and videos through the Office Mix ribbon. James Tynan of Khan Academy told EdSurge columnist Frank Catalano it’s not every Khan video or interactive exercise, but Mixers will have direct access to “pretty much all of the videos we have created” and a “significant chunk” of the exercises, numbering respectively in the thousands and hundreds.
Shanen Boettcher, General Manager of Microsoft’s Startup Business Group, said the online lesson focus helped determine the Office Mix approach: "PowerPoint is a tool that's so ubiquitously used that it seemed a natural place to start." And Microsoft hopes educators find a lot to like. “We want them to love Office, to love the tools that they're familiar with,” Boettcher added. “At the end of the day, what this is about is bringing together a set of valuable tools and resources in a place that is familiar to teachers."