Office Mix is a neat little add-on for powerpoint that helps you create interactive content with your presentations. You can take your basic powerpoint slides and add voiceovers to any of them and you can intersperse the slides with a variety of quiz types or various online content. Once you’ve finished making your ‘mix’, they can be uploaded online and shared with students via a link. Students can work through the content and – assuming they have signed in with an account of some kind – you can track their progress and results. And even if they haven’t, they can still interact with the content though you won’t get any data about how they’ve done. Here’s a couple of examples from the official Microsoft gallery (you can see lots of other examples there as well).
In terms of EAP, this can be very useful for creating flipped content for students to engage with either before or after the lesson. You could create a presentation on a particular topic such as academic style, record a voice over and then quiz them at various points with multiple choice or T/F questions. This could potentially be used before the lesson to find out how much they know or post lesson as a form of revision. And the great thing about this content is that it can easily be shared with other teachers so they can upload it to their own Office Mix account as well.
Creating the content is relatively simple. First off, you need to install Office Mix, this can only be done if you already own Powerpoint 2013 or 2016 on PC (no Mac version available as of yet), you download the file and install. Once you’ve done that, you will now see an extra Mix tab in your Powerpoint ribbon.
You can either create a new presentation or just open any existing Powerpoint you have. From the Mix tab you can then insert a variety of content or add certain media to your slides. For example, you can record a voiceover for your slides so you can essentially create a verbal online presentation. This can be done just with voice or you can add video by recording your face with the webcam. In the final version this appears in the top right-hand corner of the screen. You also have the option to ‘draw’ on the screen to illustrate anything on the slides in more detail.
Perhaps most interesting for teachers is the ability to insert various question and quiz types into your slides. You can click the quizzes button and choose from a range, such as multiple choice, free answer, T/F or poll. Within this section there is other content you can insert, such as from Khan Academy and various other services, but these seem to relate to various content areas that are probably not relevant for EAP.
I haven’t had a chance to use this yet as our term hasn’t started but plan to try it out with students in the coming weeks. Initial impressions though are positive, obviously the most useful thing is that it’s integrated into Powerpoint, we all have presentations lying around that we could revamp or repurpose into interactive content and it reduces the amount of work we have to do considerably. The fact that you can get data from students is really helpful as well as you know how difficult or easy they found the material and indeed whether they did it at all!
Question types are a bit limited, basically it’s multiple choice, T/F and free response, would have been nice to have some other options such as gap-filling, matching or reordering activities but maybe they will come in the future. The other issue for those of us who work at universities with locked down desktops is that it isn’t a purely online service. You do need to download a file and install it on your computer and I know in many institutions you are not allowed to do that without explicit permission.
Anyhow, let me know if you use this and how your students respond, it might be a great way to get them engaged either before or after the lesson.