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Microsoft Office Mix: No-Teacher-Left-Behind Course Authoring 27

theodp (442580) writes "While they aim to democratize learning, the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement has, for the most part, oddly left K-12 teachers out of the online content creation business. ZDNet's Simon Bisson reports on Office Mix, Microsoft's new PowerPoint plug-in and associated cloud service, which Bisson says makes it easy to create and distribute compelling educational content (screenshots). GeekWire's Frank Catalano also makes an interesting case for why Office Mix's choice of PowerPoint, "the poster child for delivering boring presentations in non-interactive settings," could still be a disrupter in the online content creation space. By the way,, the collaboration of edX and Google which also aims to help "teachers easily build and host courses for the world to take," is slated to go live in the first half of 2014. It'll be interesting to see how's authoring tools differ from Google Research's Course Builder effort."
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Microsoft Office Mix: No-Teacher-Left-Behind Course Authoring

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  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @11:07AM (#47082925) Homepage Journal

    The only problem with PowerPoint is that anyone can use it, and most people aren't capable of making compelling content. I know some people who can do great things with PowerPoint, but just like any skill, it is only possessed by a small percent of the population. The average person can't sing, dance, cook, act, paint, draw, or code exceptionally well, either. It would be like blaming Word for an abundance of badly-formatted, boring stories.

    • This is certainly true in many respects, however the quote (FTFA)

      After visiting the Office Mix portal, educators (or anyone) can download the add-in that causes a Mix ribbon to appear within PowerPoint.

      Just seems so wrong on so many levels.

      Think of the children!

    • The other problem is every school already switched to Google Docs. Even at educational discounts, the copies of Office 2013 often cost more than the computers themselves if they want Access and Publisher.
      • by Trepidity ( 597 )

        Do schools actually need Access?

      • by Danborg ( 62420 )

        Don't under-estimate the power of Office 365 to draw schools back into the fold... one of the local systems here just rolled it out county wide.
        I think the appeal is outsourcing the day to day management and administration of Exchange email... and well... Office just rides along for free.
        Many systems also seem to feel compelled to teach Office because that's what businesses use, and they want to prep the kids accordingly.

      • As long as there is OpenOffice,org, LibreOffice, etc, there is no need to be drawn to the dark side.

        Raise your hands: Who here trusts Microsoft (or Google) with education?

        They're going to monetize this somehow, and that money is going to be taken from the hides of educators and children. It doesn't have to be that way.

    • The only problem with PowerPoint is that anyone can use it

      Somehow I can't help but to take an entirely complementary stance on that. Given that PowerPoint is a great solution for exactly the wrong problem, creating online course material in it seems like a task for PowerPoint gurus (how to solve importing from and exporting into dedicated e-learning platforms like Moodle? how to automatically repurpose the authored contents for generated interactive material like quizzes, exercises, or flash cards?), so while there's probably quite a lot of capable teachers and te

    • Perhaps I've just never seen these amazingly compelling PowerPoint presentations, but I'm going to have to disagree with you there. At least HyperCard had Myst -- I've yet to see a PowerPoint that comes close to that.

      Just to make sure I wasn't sticking my foot in my mouth, I even YouTubed "Amazing PowerPoint Presentations" and I didn't find anything interesting. I find the super-animated artsy PowerPoints to be more annoying than the boring, static, bullet-list crap my boss slaps together. Our customers wan

      • Perhaps I've just never seen these amazingly compelling PowerPoint presentations, but I'm going to have to disagree with you there. At least HyperCard had Myst -- I've yet to see a PowerPoint that comes close to that.

        I put my faith in DynaBook Jr. - if that damned thing will ever get finished. ;/

      • I find the super-animated artsy PowerPoints to be more annoying than the boring, static, bullet-list crap my boss slaps together. Our customers want to be wowed by numbers, statistics, and a few pictures. They couldn't care less about how artsy the PowerPoint is.

        There is this odd audience demographic that seems to be impressed by fancy slide animations. Frankly, when I've talked with such people, it usually comes from people who are presenters themselves, and are a little jealous -- they want the cool eye candy too.

        But people who are just trying to get content? Well, slide animations or cool slide transitions aren't going to help convey content or ideas in most cases. I have inevitably found them to be the tools of choice for people who give poor presentations

    • Sounds like ditto for "We can make everyone program.". I can do more with org,mode in emacs and even more with ipython notebook to make compelling interactive presentation or documents than was ever possible with PowerPoint, cute graphics notwithstanding. Still, there are simple rules about not cluttering slides with too many points and using a large font to keep it simple, stupid, that lay the traps for most presentations. That is no fault of PowerPoint of its ilk.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hey, Slashdot, I don't know you listen to the Beta complains, but at least renew your HTTPS certificate!

  • Ever try doing math in PowerPoint?

  • by matbury ( 3458347 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @02:25PM (#47083735) Homepage

    We already have advanced, powerful, flexible learning management systems and promising new ones appearing all the time, e.g. Instructure Canvas. The better ones are easily good enough for most online learning and teaching needs and most learners and teachers only use a small percentage of the features on offer (some claim 80% using 20% of features). For all its sins, Moodle has been a pioneer in this respect and one that many are trying to emulate.

    Then there's open educational resources (OER): Creative Commons licensed learning and teaching resources that anyone can download, edit, use, and redistribute with no strings attached except respectful attribution. UNESCO are leading a large co-ordinated effort to make this the new standard in education: []. There are dozens of repositories of resources, worksheets, media, learning activities, and whole courses available today and the number is growing. Anyone can set up an installation of Moodle as a courseware "hub" from which other Moodle's can import learning content from. Here's's official hub: []

    So what are Microsoft and Google bringing to the table? What we already have plus PR, marketing, and wholly unethical blanket surveillance? Do they intend to "fudge" important issues and manipulate education systems to generate yet more revenue for themselves, regardless of any detrimental effects on learning outcomes? Remember that the people we're teaching today are the ones who have to take care of us and fix the messes we've created tomorrow. I'd like them to be smart, insightful, intuitive, creative, analytical and critical thinkers rather than the rather uninspiring products of common core standards and bureacractic mediocrity.

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @03:17PM (#47084017) Homepage

    Sorry, but MOOC is hype...

    Yes, there are serious, useful courses out there. However, these are the minority that actually have students submit work and get feedback on it. It is precisely the interaction with qualified instructors - emphasis on interaction - that makes a good course. Without interaction, you could just look at YouTube videos or go read a website (or a book). Which works fine for some people, but is not a MOOC.

    The younger your students, the more important the interaction with the instructor. Someone complaining that elementary school teachers are missing the "MOOC movement"? First, there isn't a MOOC movement, only a MOOC bubble. And, second, they aren't missing anything, because MOOC is totally inappropriate for their students. /rant

  • I guess if you want to know absolutely everything you possibly can about the consumer you funnel there classwork to your data collectors too. "You want a piece of candy", is much more effective if you know what type of candy the kids like.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @05:59PM (#47084573) Homepage Journal
    There are a couple of things going on here. First, there are plenty of places a K-12 teacher can go to create content for their class. Some of these resources are pay-for sites, some are free in limited use. For instance Prezi and Pollev can be used for most of what happens in a classroom. In addition, there is nothing stopping a K-12 teacher using something like Moodle to organize content using many different tools. This just insures that MS tools get used. There is nothing wrong with that, there are other sites out there that only use google tools.

    Second, is the MOOC portion. To be honest, there is simply not a compelling case for this except in certain cases for K-12. We are not going to be setting 8 year old kids alone with a computer and expect them to learn. Maybe one day, but not with MS tools.

    This initiative, however, will probably provide some value to MS and k-12 teachers. For the most part K-12 teachers know how use MS products. The presentations are in powerpoint, which is why they are generally useless, and the worksheets are in word, which is why they are ugly, and the one great part of MS Office, Excel, is so misused that even it does not survive the experience.However, these are the tools that teachers have and packaging them so that students can get experience learning on the computer is valuable.

    • I despise Prezi. It's powerpoint with asinine animations and always-on internet required. Every time someone suggests I use Prezi in my classroom I want to cut their tongue out with an angle grinder. Ugh.

      • by fermion ( 181285 )
        I have not used Prezi that much, but I do not that local software can be used to play the files offline. Some people find it good to create links. I generally use LaTex.
  • The first rule of business, adjective "ruthless" is redundant, is to create a captive market which is something both Micro$oft and Google are about. You do this so you can lock in your customers to your product or service and ask for ransom if they want to leave. The only reasonable answer is to either steal the product or create a workalike that makes the functionality non-unique. This is what Open-Office and LibreOffice represent WRT Microsoft Office and why Microsoft has to roll new releases each year.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.