Microsoft has revealed a partnership with edX that will offer a new tool to aid in the creation of free online courses.
Created by Harvard and MIT, the nonprofit online edX offers free online courses from some of the world’s greatest educational institutions. Content is delivered to users through videos, with many of the lecturers using PowerPoint. Microsoft is hopeful that their new free PowerPoint add-on, Office Mix, will help to make the experience that much better.
“EdX and Microsoft share a vision to empower educators around the world to create high-quality courses, enabling students to learn wherever they are, for free. I have used Office Mix myself, and enjoy the simplicity of being able to edit video snippets from within PowerPoint. We are excited to partner with Microsoft as we continue to evolve open edX and provide teachers and faculty a richer set of course authoring tools.” Anant Agarwal, edX CEO.
Office Mix offers educators a simple way to create interactive lectures with the use of video, voice, digital ink, screen recordings in addition to other tools. In addition, the add-on makes PowerPoint easier to use.
Through its partnership with exX, Microsoft hopes to create an XBlock component for Office Mix. Doing so would offer educators the ability to embed lectures that are hosted by OfficeMix.com directly into an edX course, allowing students to more easily view the videos.
In addition, the company plans to distribute the Office Mix XBlock component through open sourcing on GitHub, allowing open edX deployments to reuse or modify the XBlock as they see fit.
“We are delighted to be partnering with edX. Authoring online lectures is hard today so most faculty don’t even attempt it, whether for MOOCs or for blended-learning scenarios on the campus. In partnering with edX, our goal is to democratize the creation of online lectures and courses.” – Anoop Gupta, Office Mix project lead and Microsoft Distinguished Scientist.
EdX educators will be offered a 180-day free trial of Office Mix by Microsoft to experience the the effectiveness of the program for themselves.
In other edX news, the company is branching out to cover all platforms, including Linux. After launching the first course on Linux in August, about 300,000 people signed up for the course, the highest number of people to enroll in a course on the site this year, according to edX president Anant Agarwal.
“This Linux course has been one of the top two MOOCs we’ve ever had,” Agarwal said in an interview. (MOOC stands for massive online open course.)
Agarwal reported that 32% of the enrollees came from the US, 11% from India, 4% from the UK and 4% from Brazil.