When I left the tech industry to start teaching primary school students over 4 years ago, I was curious what "digital natives" had already learned about technology outside of school. I found that most students still needed to learn basic skills like how to hold a mouse properly and how to edit a document. I was surprised to see students delete half a paragraph to fix a typo or put "enters" at the end of every line to double space. So just like in other subjects such as reading, it is important for us to teach students the basics. As I watched them, I developed a series of fun projects (fun is all relative) to help in each area. Here are some of them:
Personal GPS Project
Microsoft Office Mix
Microsoft Office Mix is a new free add-on to PowerPoint 2013 that lets you (teachers) quickly make extraordinary lessons by adding audio and video narration, screen captures, screen casting (video capture of what you are doing on the computer), inking (writing and drawing on the screen), and quizzes and online activities to your existing or new PowerPoint slides. The tools show up as a separate MIX ribbon within PowerPoint and the features work like other PowerPoint features. I found it pretty intuitive to use.
I was pleased to see that the new MIX elements are simply objects just like other PowerPoint objects. For example, the screen capture is a jpeg which can be sized, cropped and grouped like other images. I like the fact that you can narrate your entire lesson and then edit the narration on each individual slide. In other screen casting tools like Camtasia the recording is one monolithic video.
In addition to the cool new features, Office MIX gives you detailed analytics on who has watched your lesson. You are able to track which of your students have watched a lesson, how long they spent on each slide (pretty awesome, huh?), and how they scored on each quiz. Another great feature is the ability to "remix" lessons that other teachers have created.
You should definitely check it out:
Microsoft Office Mix was designed for teachers to create lessons, but as you can tell from the Personal GPS activity, I think it has a lot of potential to be used by students to demonstrate their knowledge and to teach others. Here is an Office Mix I created this summer with some students where they demonstrate their knowledge of math and science:
One last thing I want to mention is that the PowerPoint slides with Office MIX features still function the same way. They slides can be moved, copy and pasted, and deleted. Nothing has changed there. That means your students can each make their own MIX and you can combine the slides later into a single presentation.
Here are some links to other MIXs I created for UNC this summer:
I've decided to try blogging. The old Home Page is now renamed Interesting Stuff.