Posted in surface, Teaching and Learning, Techie stuff

Using Microsoft Office Mix

It is nearing NCEA exam time in my world. And so I have been busy making exam question walk through using Microsoft Office Mix and the snip tool on my surface pro 4. Office Mix is a super handy add in for powerpoint that lets you make video tutorials with ease. The surface stylus just makes writing these answers and equations easy as. It has been a while since I blogged about how I use Office Mix in class (you can see one of my first goes HERE, or some more about the features HERE and if you want to earn more about it I suggest you check out the Office Mix web page) so I thought I should give an update on my favourite go to tool. You can also add PhET animations with ease, or include webpages for students to browse. And after the recent #hacktheclassroom hack from fellow kiwi Subash my mixes might just get a little neater – I’ve put a link to his video at the end of this post 🙂

Making the exam walk throughs

My go to for Mix is exam walk throughs. To start with, I head over to the NZQA web page and find the exams and schedules I want. Then I take a picture of them using snip, and make the picture the back ground on the ppt slide so I don’t accidentally grab it and move it during my recording.

Then it is as easy as hitting the record button and away you go

Once you have finished the recording, you can either save as a video file to upload to youtube etc, or upload them to the office mix site. I tend to just upload to the mix site, and then share the links.

I also try to remember to tell my students to pause the video and attempt the questions first…. not sure how many do though!!

Here are some examples – feel free to share them with your class if you think they would find them useful.

Student Mixes.

I have also played around with getting my students to make a mix to explain their thinking behind the exam answers. These have also been shared with the class so they can use them for their revision too. Some students are definitely more theatrical than others 🙂

Mixes for feedback

Again, a quick video to provide feedback for students works really well. I have found this particularly useful for the (sadly, this year too many) times I am away. Students will email me a photo of their work, and I will complete a mix for feedback for them

Mix for relief

It has also bee really good for relief – the students seem to really like a video of me talking and will listen better than if I was talking to them live. Sigh

So while none of these are especially bright and shiny, they are really useful ways I use this tool in my teaching and learning, and can make the arduous task of exam preparation a little bit less stressful. Students appreciate being able to rewind ideas.

And with the awesome #hacktheclassroom hack from NZs own Subash, my mixes have gotten a little neater – although I still ignore the gridlines at times. You can see his hack and how to make the mix presentations neater below.

Posted in surface, Techie stuff

Putting Office Mix into practice

I blogged about some of the awesome features I learned about with Office Mix here. I have made some mixes before, but they have mostly just utilised the inking feature and screen recordings to demonstrate how to complete exams questions – or one was a slap dash job for #educampdunners that I really wanted to get to and couldn’t.

So I have decided to put some of these ideas into action and make a Mix for my Yr 10 class tomorrow – I am away on a sports exchange and I am not sure which reliever they will get. It was a good chance to have a play and I am hopefully they will like it.

We have been working on forces, so the PhET simulation on forces was a given. But in Mix, there is also an option to add in a Kahn Academy video – and there is a nice, simple 8 minute long video on balanced and unbalanced forces so I have also included that. It was the same process as adding the other apps – just go to the Mix tab, select apps, select Kahn academy and away you go.


I am pretty pleased with the final product – it is not perfect but then what is? And it is perfectly ok for my students to see – in fact I think if it was perfect they wouldn’t trust it was me. I realised after play back I forgot to turn my mic on for the first few slides – so need to remember to do that as the sound quality is much better using the head set than the mic on the pro.

Most importantly for time poor teachers, in all this took me 35 minutes to make – a little longer than just setting some workbook pages perhaps but hopefully much more meaningful relief. I will make sure I ask my class how they found it, and tweak as necessary 🙂 Hopefully they will keep getting better.

Posted in surface, Teaching and Learning, Techie stuff

Exploring Office Mix – some awesome features

During my trip to Seattle for the Microsoft Global Educators Exchange, I got the opportunity to explore some of the features of Office Mix. Part of this was filming a Quick Tip video on how to embed PHeT animations into an Office Mix presentation, and then I attended a flipped classroom session where more Microsoft software that can help, including how Office Mix can help. Steve Martin from Howick College showed an exceptional Mix that one of his staff had made – featuring him with a gopro at the gym to talk about heart rates. So I am going to have to up my game. Hopefully some of these features will help me get my Mix ON.

Embedding PhET Animations

Embedding a PhET in an office Mix is really straight forward, and takes about 4 clicks (although one is a slightly annoying ‘trust it’ click). To do this, you simply go to the mix tab, select insert quizzes, videos and app, chose PhET animations, trust it, then chose the animation/simulation you want. Simple as that


 Embedding a screen recording

It is really simple to put a screen recording into your Office mix – just click the link, and it will take you straight to where you want to record – with audio options. It is really easy screen capture. Then it automatically embeds straight into the Office Mix


Live Web Page

All you need to do is go to the quizzes videos apps, select live web viewer, and you a ready to roll. The web page you are using does need to be able to use https/ must be a secure site to work – so some sites might not work in this format – but it is still a handy way to direct students to particular sites – maybe to start a research project – or get them to complete a particular activity online without leaving the rest of the lesson.


So a tool I am already enjoying using just got a whole lot more useful, and I am really looking forward to exploring these other options.

Posted in surface, Teaching and Learning

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