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Mixing it up: interactive online learning with OfficeMix

4 February 2015

Catherine Emmett and Christopher Evans

We’ve been hearing a lot more recently about the continuing development of a tool called Office Mix (currently in Beta) which is designed to help you create interactive online learning objects. So this week’s post is a guest blog by Catherine Emmett and Christopher Evans. Catherine works in the Learning Technology Systems team in the University and Chris is the learning technologist in the School of Modern Languages, currently focusing on the Languages for All programme. Chris has been telling us how he’s been using Office Mix to show language tutors how to create simple interactive ‘lessons’.

“Office mix offers lots of opportunities to create very useful materials for students. We could upload Mix presentations to Learning Central for students who have missed a class or want to revise, as well as for blended learning. It is simple to use and during the Mix training session we (the Italian tutors) created a short project in 30 minutes with an interactive map and quiz, two short videos and some useful tools and key words at the side. Mix is also very engaging for both teachers and students and importantly, fun.”

Caterina Bertelli
Italian Tutor – Languages for All and Choices
School of Modern Languages

“Office mix is very easy to use and offers new ways of creating a language lesson that is effective, stimulating and enjoyable. It can be used by students to revise, catch-up on missed lessons and also for distant learning.”

Dr Bruna Chezzi MA, FHEA
School of Modern Languages

Chris has been telling us how he’s been using Office Mix to show language tutors how to create simple interactive ‘lessons’.

So as it’s been really popular from Chris’ feedback, we thought it was a great post for Catherine and Chris to write. Here goes…

So what is Office Mix?

Office Mix is made by Microsoft and integrates with PowerPoint. This is Microsoft’s description:

“Office Mix is an easy way to take your PowerPoint presentations and bring them to life as interactive online lessons. From recording audio or video of yourself giving a lecture, to directly writing in the presentation as you would at your whiteboard, to quizzing, to sharing, to seeing how it all worked – Office Mix helps you do it all simply.” (Microsoft, 2015)

You could therefore see Office Mix as a recording tool, a screencasting tool, or a rapid e-learning (or ‘learning object’) development tool – something akin to Adobe Captivate or Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio. And all for free! The features focus on the ability to record screencasts (with audio), record annotated slides (with video and audio), add polls/quiz activities into your PowerPoint presentations, and publish these online for students to view.

The useful thing is that, because OfficeMix integrates with PowerPoint, it will feel familiar to anyone who uses PowerPoint, and is quite easy to learn how to use. We’ve even spotted a nice video showing how to use all the basic features created by Amir Parmar so you can learn how to get to grips with it straight away.

How you can get OfficeMix

First off, you need to have a Windows machine, and you need Office 2013 Service Pack 1. The good news is, if you’re using a Cardiff University managed workstation, you probably already have this. If you’re not, but you do have your own Windows machine, chances are you can get Office 2013 under the software campus agreement (see page 6 in the Schedule of Charges) if you’re using this for University work (speak to your School IT staff about this).

Next, you need to make sure you have an Office365 account. Since we use that for our email system here at Cardiff, most of our readers should have it. Good stuff!

Finally, you need to install Office Mix. For managed workstations, there may be an application object available to you, so you should look for it on your machine under Cardiff Apps in the first instance; failing that speak to your IT staff or INSRVConnect. For other Window machines, Catherine has created a quick and dirty video on how to install it.

It’s free you said? But there must be a downside right?

As nice as we think OfficeMix is for creating simple online lessons, there are a couple of constraints. OfficeMix lessons themselves can be viewed by students on a range of various devices and operating systems, but they can’t be created on anything other than a Windows machine with Office 2013 SP1. That’s the biggie, as it makes it much more difficult for people on older Office versions and for Mac users to create slide recordings and screencasts (unless you’re a Mac user who already has something like Parallels installed).

You should also note that once you have created each slide recording or screencast recording using the Mix tools in PowerPoint, you can’t edit them, not even very simple editing, such as ‘topping and tailing’. Finally, viewing OfficeMix lessons won’t work on Firefox, except on a Windows 7 machine. That’s a shame, since Firefox is available on lots of devices.

The other proviso of course is that it’s still currently in Beta release, with all the usual caveats that entails; however, it does look like it’s likely to be fully released soon.

So, what do you think? Have you tried Office Mix yourself? Do you have any exemplar “Mix’s” to share with us? Let us know if you’re interested in learning more, or even just have some comments about using it.


  1. Anne Marie Cunningham (@amcunningham)

    Ran into a problem… we only have Office 2010 on network?
    Can I update?

  2. Dewi Parry

    Cardiff University staff have access to Office 2013 under Cardiff Apps – 2010 should be uninstalled before installing the new 2013 version. If anyone can’t do this, please e-mail us for directions.

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