Microsoft is steadily turning Office Mix into an interactive learning platform.
Office Mix is a free PowerPoint add-on that allows users to create sharable interactive presentations. Although it carries the Microsoft Office branding, the offering is aimed at educators—albeit not exclusively.
The cloud-enabled software offers tools for video-enriched digital lessons. A main draw is the software's assessment features. Helen Gooch, a Microsoft Fellow and Master Trainer, noted in statement that Office Mix provides "great analytics so that as your students complete a lesson or learning activity, you can see how well they mastered the objectives, and you can view the results if you included quiz questions such as multiple choice, true/false, and short answer."
Now Microsoft wants teachers to share their "mixes" with the world.
Responding to a top request from teachers, the company "created a public Gallery designed for sharing and discovering great lessons," said the Office 365 Team in a company blog post. "Through the new public Gallery, you can upload your favorite mixes, make them available to others, and browse content created by others to spark ideas or share with your class."
Mixes aren't limited to the new gallery or the limited sharing options of the past. "Additionally, you can now embed Office Mix content, so it can show up on virtually any website," stated Microsoft.
And more updates are in the works. "Since Office Mix is cloud enabled, we can more rapidly ship updates and continually improve the experience," stated the company's blog post.
The Office Mix partner ecosystem is growing. Joining Khan Academy and the CK-12 Foundation is the University of Colorado's PhET physical science simulations app. A math app from GeoGebra promising access to "thousands of STEM education materials" is also on the way.
Microsoft kicked off the Office Mix public preview in May. Since that time, the company has already observed some interesting trends.
For one, the software is breaking language barriers. Noting that Office Mix hasn't been localized, Microsoft revealed that it is "seeing mixes in a variety of foreign languages: Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Romanian, and even Finnish."
Also, Office Mixes aren't replacing long lectures. Instead, they enable "bite-sized learning," said Microsoft. "The vast majority of mixes created are shorter than five minutes, suggesting that educators are using Office Mix to teach individual concepts rather than replace entire classroom lessons."
The Office Mix updates were issued during the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Atlanta this week. Attendees were invited to try out the technology, even if they were a generation or two behind the latest edition of Office.
A Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK that because "not all teachers have the latest versions of OneNote and PowerPoint available to them, it is offering teachers attending ISTE a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 for free."