I first met Office Mix a few years ago, before I had the required Office 2013 or higher. I loved the demo I watched, cried a bit that it wouldn’t work for me, and then forgot about it. Now that I’ve upgraded to Office 365, I’m eager to use all the features that got me so excited back then.
Before I get into those, let me back up for those who have never heard of Office Mix. It’s a free PowerPoint add-on that turns your existing PowerPoint program into a fully-featured lesson planner. Using the traditional slide decks you love, you can now collect all the resources required for a lesson plan into one place that students watch either as a slideshow or a video. It can include video, narration, audio, polls, screen captures, screencasts, photo albums, charts, tables, annotated notes, images, interactive quizzes, and more. Just like with PowerPoint, you start with either a blank slide or a professional-looking template. Once the slide deck is completed, you share it via link or embed it as a slideshow or video on any device.
Because Mix uses audio and video tools to communicate ideas, students are eager to view the resulting lessons, making it a perfect addition to a blended learning program.
How to get started
To get started, download the add-on from the Mix website. When you open PowerPoint, Mix will appear on the toolbar, toward the right side. Click and you’ll find the features that have made Mix a new favorite digital tool with so many educators. You can watch a collection of how-to videos, but if you’re in a hurry, Mix is intuitive enough to skip right to the “get started” step.
To set up educator accounts through Office for Education (which requires a school sign-up), all students need is a Google or Microsoft account, or just an email. They’ll sign up to your class and then you receive metrics on the Mix presentations you share with them.
Because most teachers already use PowerPoint, this feels natural. There’s nothing tricky; in fact, it’s intuitive and easy.
I like that you can include a Discussion Board, encouraging students to add their thoughts and react to those of classmates.
Mix videos can be downloaded as mp4s, making them easily used in a wide variety of places, including a class YouTube channel.
Mix allows you to embed a web page into a slide, which is cool, but it only allows those with https — the designation for secure sites. I was surprised how many sites don’t include that and were, therefore, unable to be shared.
You have to have MS Office 2013 or above to run Mix. This isn’t really a “con”, more of a warning.
There are dozens of authentic uses for Mix in your classroom. Let me share the top eight mentioned to me by my learning community:
- Use the screen recording tool to capture just a portion of a longer video (from, say, YouTube) and embed that into a slide.
- Videos recorded using the screen recording tool can be saved as a stand-alone video and embedded wherever you need (keeping in mind appropriate copyright protections) such as the class LMS, a school website, or teacher blog.
- Use the slide recording tool as a whiteboard and show students how to complete a task such as a solving a math problem or building a molecule. This can be done with your picture in the corner or without, and with a variety of colored inks.
- In a flipped class, use Mix to share required resources, preparation steps, and assessments for an upcoming class.
- Start a lesson plan with a formative quiz to assess what knowledge students have for the upcoming lesson. Mix provides a wide variety of quizzes that are easily and quickly embedded into the slideshow.
- Rejuvenate slideshows you created in the past by uploading them to your 2013 or later PowerPoint and “Mix” them by adding video, screencasts, audio, quizzes, whiteboards, and more.
- In your educator account, track which slides students watched for how long to get a sense of how much they understood and where they had problems before moving on to new material.
- Encourage students to view slide decks and videos at their own pace, rewind as needed, and watch from anywhere that’s convenient for their learning.
Here’s a well-organized overview of Office Mix created in PowerPoint:
Overall, Mix is one of the most exciting free tools from Microsoft in years. It’s reason enough to reconsider MS Office in your classrooms or update to MS Office 2016.
–first published on TeachHUB
More on Microsoft tools:
OneNote–the all-in-one digital notetaking, classroom app for educators — coming up June 30, 2017
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 20 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thriller series, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days.