Project-based learning for K-12 students has received a boost with Adobe Voice and Office Mix, two new storytelling applications from Adobe and Microsoft. Both products are available at no charge. Both applets offer rich collections of artwork elements to create and edit a short multimedia-rich project. These tools will help you simplify document sharing by providing cloud space for posting on the Web.
Quality and Effectiveness;: If you already work with PowerPoint, Office Mix provides additional ribbon tools. These new tools enhance presentation delivery with options that make slides interactive by mixing in audio recordings, quizzes, polls, and video clips. Users can record themselves giving the presentation, reposition and resize slide elements, re-record a slide, and write on a slide for emphasis. Office Mix also offers special analytical assessment tools, enabling those who create an Office Mix-enhanced presentation to see who watched the show, determine how well viewers did on the quizzes, and note how long they viewed a particular slide.
Adobe Voice lacks both the interactive and analytic features of Microsoft Office Mix. But story creation is a simple procedure that proceeds without glitches. An uncluttered interface guides users through the process of creating multi-page, multimedia-rich stories. Voice recordings made with the iPad’s built-in microphone and music can be inserted on every page. Users can also add graphic icons, photos, and other artwork for visual impact.
Ease of Use: Working with Adobe Voice is a very intuitive process. Simply launch the app, tap “Create a New Story,” enter a title for the video, and choose a particular story structure (e.g., follow a hero’s journey, teach a lesson, or share a growth moment). This feature also includes a Guided Instruction tutorial to help you get started.
Working with Office Mix is a bit problematic because of the technical hiccups, but it is well worth the effort. If you already know PowerPoint, you won’t find it difficult to explore the new options on the Mix ribbon bar, but adding voice and interactive quizzes to PowerPoint slides is not as intuitive as creating a digital story in Adobe Voice. A few quick trips to the Office Mix online tutorial Web site will prove useful.
Creative Use of Technology: You can create a Mix presentation in the same way as a conventional PowerPoint slideshow, working with both the regular PowerPoint tools and the new tools available on the Office Mix ribbon. Similarly, Adobe Voice V1.1 comes with over 25,000 icons, 100,000 images, and a robust library of music clips and animations.
Suitability for Use in a School Environment: Both Adobe Voice and Office Mix support instruction aligned with the new Common Core standards for communication. Two “anchor standards” for Speaking and Listening in the English Language Arts section specifically address the importance of communication through listening, speaking, and writing.
• Both programs are available at no charge if your school has compatible hardware and software.
• Both tools help students develop presentation and communication skills.
• Users can share content easily with others by posting their work online.
OVERALL RATING: Both Adobe Voice and Office Mix can help strengthen student communication skills, reinforce classroom instruction, and address student interests in engaging ways.