Get Office MixIf you’ve been using Powerpoint slides for lecture  and would like to tryeasy lecture capture, Microsoft Office Mix may be just the thing for you.  Mix is an add-in for Powerpoint 2013 and Office 365.  The download is free and installation is simple.  Then Mix shows up in the toolbar of Powerpoint with voice capture and editing tools.  You do need a Microsoft Account to download the add-in; these accounts are free and do come with some other benefits, such as a secure “wallet” for payment information and access to Microsoft’s free cloud storage space.

Once installed, the “Mix” tab at the top of Powerpoint will give you this toolbar:
Mix Screenshot

Mix supports insertion of quizzes with student device interaction and analytics, à la Poll Everywhere and Socrative.   You can also annotate slides as you add your voice-over, and your presentation can easily be uploaded to the Microsoft Mix cloud but you can also export to video, so you can put it on Youtube or whatever video platform you are used to using.

Once you’ve created a presentation video, it can be played from any machine; Mix and Powerpoint don’t have to be installed, just the usual sort of media player.

Microsoft has created some really nice video tutorials for Mix and this nice “cheat sheet” for teachers.

Mix is an obvious asset to Powerpoint; one wonders that it has taken this long to appear.  It is amazingly full-featured, actually.  I am often creating video tutorials or lessons on things other than Powerpoint presentations: how to navigate an application we’re using in class, marking up a Word document, etc. and I thought I would still need to use a separate screen capture application such at Tech Smith’s Snagit (my fave) for that.  Wrong!  Mix supports full-screen recording (and the interface is remarkably similar to SnagIt’s!)

It is possible to add Mix to the menu of External Tools on Desire 2 Learn’s Brightspace (i.e. our Learning Management System, Talon), but I think it’s just as easy to set the privacy on your Mixes appropriately and insert a direct link to them.

I’ve only started to explore Mix.  Thus far, I’m pretty smitten.  Do you use Mix?  What do you think?


I apparently bought in to one of the crowd-source funding items on IndieGogo (probably some bluetooth thingy to help me find my keys.  Have you seen my keys?) and so now get their “this product is HOT” updates.  This morning’s included one called Rocketbook Wave.  It’s pretty simple, really, although I’m sure the background technology is very complex:  it’s a notebook and pen.  One takes notes in the notebook as one would if one were handwriting one’s notes instead of typing them into a laptop or other device.  The pages and ink are optimized for image capture by your cellphone, Wave capture

and the image capture is automatically loaded into Rocketbook’s cloud storage system.

At first, this seems like a cumbersome process, and much less useful than, say, LiveScribe’s pen, which “records” what is written and allows playback of the same.  However, while recent studies confirm that handwritten material is better retained, one of the real drawbacks is living with all the paper that accumulates.  With this notebook, after you capture the images of the writing, you then microwave it to “erase” it, and start over.  (Sounds rather hygienic, too… I expect most of our devices and especially keyboards would benefit from a similar cleansing).

The concept is clearly popular, as the inventors have reached 3,562% of their funding goal at this writing.  I don’t think I’ll jump on the bandwagon quite yet but if you do, I hope you’ll let us know what you think!  The product is currently expected to ship in August of this year.

“Free Technology For Teachers” — that’s the name of a Facebook page and matching website that regularly publish links to, yes, you guessed it, free technology for teachers.  Much is targeted at K-12 educators; I don’t know about you, but I’ve found many such apps to be quite helpful.

One recent link was to a newsletter called Practical Ed Tech.   Both sites are written by the same busy guy named Ed Byrnes.  I’m impressed!  Anyway, the newsletter entry was titled “5 good tools for creating audio recordings online.”

Who would need such a thing?  I do, actually.  For all kinds of office skills classes, I need both to have a library of “answering machine” messages that students can practice transcribing onto written message pads, as well as an easy way for students to record speaking exercises, everything from vocabulary to “how would you respond to a client who asks this question?”

The app I chose to go with is Vocaroo, which is absurdly simple.  You navigate to the website from a computer or device that has a microphone installed; you record your pieces; the app asks for an email address and then it emails the voice file.  That’s all there is to it!640px-His_Master's_Voice

If you’d like to try it, I hope you’ll add to my library of “grooming request calls.”  All you need to do is to pretend to be a pet owner seeking pet grooming services, or asking questions about the same.  Remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question, and also that all too many callers assume the recipient of a message can easily guess the correct spelling of their name, the area code of their phone number, etc.  If you do record a message, please email it to me at  Thank you!

13 Apr / 2016

Hello world!

Hello World

“Hello World” is, traditionally, the first message that computer programmers are taught to produce.  That seems to make it a suitable greeting for this first post from the Kirkwood Community College Tech Scouts.  The mission of our group is to “identify new and emerging teaching and learning technologies and innovative applications, and to share those with other college faculty and staff.”

It’s our hope that by putting this blog in public purview, we will also be able to connect with individuals from other colleges and schools who share similar passions and missions.  So, if you’re out there, we’d love to hear from you!  And if you’re in here, we’d really love to hear from you!  Basically, we’d love to hear from you.  Let’s talk tech!