edX is an online learning environment which is extensively used for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), founded as a non-profit partnership between Harvard and MIT. They’ve just announced a partnership with Microsoft to help online course creators to develop content with Office Mix.
Many faculty currently use PowerPoint slides as the basis of their lectures on edX. But creating videos, updating and revising them, and adding interactive elements to lectures can be time-consuming. With Office Mix, educators can easily produce videos and online lectures that deliver an engaging experience to students, with support for audio and video recordings, screen captures, hyperlinks, and digital ink.
The problem that this partnership is designed to solve is that recent research has shown that developing an online MOOC course is costing universities around $125,000, with some costing up to a $1/4m. This is because the content has to be created in partnership between teaching staff, content creation teams, and editorial teams. At that cost, it can quickly become unsustainable for universities to develop more MOOC courses.
Office Mix is an add-on for PowerPoint, and as well as supporting the easier creation of online course content, the Mix site tracks the learning analytics for the activity – giving teachers deep insight into which students are watching the material, how long they watch each section for, and results for the embedded assessments. You can quickly and easily see what sections are working best, and what gaps there might be in students’ learning.
Office Mix can be used for creating content for other online learning systems, or even just as a standalone web service (for example, an individual teacher can publish their Mixes directly to the Office Mix website, and publish a public resource, or just for users within their own school/TAFE/university).
The partnership with edX will create components to directly embed Mixes into an edX course, and the components will be released as open source components, which will be helpful to developers of other online learning systems looking to do something similar, or for others wanting to create components for edX.