My first go with Microsoft Office Mix

So, I first heard about Microsoft Office Mix at Ulearn 2 weeks ago, and then saw some more at the Microsoft Innovative Educators Expert (MIEE) weekend in Sydney. Office Mix is an add on for Microsoft powerpoint that allows you to easily record, annotate and include quizzes within a powerpoint presentation. It was something I really wanted to try, I have blogged earlier about making videos for my classes using powerpoint, and this seemed a perfectly timed next step. So I started reading up on using Office mix, and found some really helpful videos and blogposts. Among the most helpful to be was this one from Sam McNeill at STAC featuring work from Matt Nicoll and fellow MIEE Ben Hilliam. I also checked out the office mix web site – where you can download the add on for free, and there are a range of helpful tutorials and videos. Most importantly to get some ideas, there are a variety of prepared office mix vids you can watch (there is currently a competition, so if you vote for your favourite office mix, your school could win some surface pros!!). There are also some good reviews in a NZ context via learning tech and technet.

So, with all the reading out of the way, I dove in and gave it a go.

My resulting ‘mix’ is very simple, very short, and doesn’t include a quiz. But I am exceptionally pleased with how easy it was to make. I just started by putting the base text on the powerpoint. I tossed up about using type or ink, and went with type as it was neater than my writing. I wanted to distinguish the process to follow from the base info.

I did have some paper notes for the equations, next time I might do a script so I have a clearer idea of what I am doing. As I get more confident I shouldn’t need this, but I felt today I was a bit jerky. However, the writing was in real time, it was ridiculously simple to use and the finished ‘product’ is very useable.

A small hick up I had was I touched the home screen button while I was writing with the pen. An easy fix is next time, I’ll hold the screen ‘upside down’ so the home button is on my left side, so my right hand won’t bump it while I am writing. It wasn’t a biggie, but will hopefully save the moment of mad panic as the screen changes mid sentence on me. Fail – but a good wee learning curve too.

It also took longer than I thought to convert to a video format. In the days of instant everything, waiting a few minutes (between 5 and 10) felt like a thousand years. So if you are making one, plan something to do in the downtime. I glared at it for a while, then checked e-mails and twitter, came back and it was done. It is possible uploading to mix would take less time, but as this was my first one I wasn’t ready for that step yet.

On the whole, Office mix is a real winner from me, and with it being so quick and easy – bonus of being easy to export to video (even if it was a bit slow) so I can put it up on youtube and embed into my class weebly easily. I can use powerpoint resources I already have, and expand on them using the ink function. I might have to get a proper stand, so when I use the camera I am not looking down on it and appear to have a thousand chins 🙂 Or I think I’ll just keep me out of it, students know what I look like. There are lots of differing opinions about the disembodied head in some videos…. I will have to play some more and see what works for me and my students.

I will definitely be using Office mix again. Next step is to get more confident with my voice and my writing, and to include a quiz feature. Which again seems relatively straight forward. I will also work on adjusting the volume, and perhaps finding a quieter space than my classroom at lunch time, so there isn’t so much background noise and you can’t hear the pen tapping on the surface. (update – since writing the draft, I’ve had the suggestion of using a ‘skype’ headset, or a USB microphone to minimise the background noise – nice simple solutions)

On another note, the OneNote presentation I did is continuing to send ripples through the staffroom, and several people have had a go using the software. Most have come back with the same story that it is O for awesome. So check it out, have a play and see if it works for you.

Have fun, and watch this space for some more attempts at using Office Mix

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