Office Mix: No more death by PowerPoint

Recently, healthcare has been hit by a rash of ransomware attacks that have crippled entire hospitals. Medstar Health, which runs several hospitals in the Baltimore-Washington area, was the most recent victim of an attack that forced them to shut down critical systems and severely hampered operations. Read the story HERE. Given Medstar is in our own back yard, our team met daily to assess our own posture and shore up our security systems. We updated, tuned, locked down in every way we could while trying to not impact our daily operations.

However, all the security tech in the world can’t stop every phishing email or every bad link,  or questionable document from getting through to users. User awareness, actions and behavior are key to preventing security issues at the source. Therefore a  key element to any security program is educating your end users. We have had a cyber security education program for several years but wanted to respond quickly to the current situation to further increase awareness and sensitivity to the risk now impacting health care organizations. We did some emails and posted content on our SharePoint intranet to inform and heighten awareness, but wanted to get something more interactive and engaging to better communicate to our user base. We were able to do this quickly using PowerPoint and a free add on called MIX.

Over the years we have invested in a number of tools to do desktop video, mouse and keyboard capture and used them to create user training. But back in 2015 we came across an add-on tool for PowerPoint from Microsoft called Office Mix. MIX is a Microsoft developed add-on that adds the capability for PowerPoint to perform screen captures, and add inking, video and voice overs and embed them in your presentation. Starting with PowerPoint allows you to use a familiar app to create your outline and structure and then use the MIX tools to add in audio and video content and interactive elements that take your training to the next level. You can walk your users through static content using narration or add your own presence by imposing yourself as a speaker in video in  the corners of each slide. This provides an element to your presentation that is much more effective in holding the user’s attention and keeping them engaged in the content. Additionally, you can add other plug ins such as quiz components. We added this in order to have the user validate their knowledge at the end of the presentation.

MIX can be downloaded from Microsoft at the link in the above paragraph. It installs itself as a Ribbon element, again presenting itself in a familiar way. There are numerous examples on the site, most uploaded by users who created them and allowed Public Access. This is another powerful element of MIX. Once you finish your MIX, you can upload it to the MIX content and sharing platform. Microsoft has provided the ability for anyone using MIX to upload their creations, invite users and event rack utilization and viewing down to the slide level. This is powerful. For the MIX I created I wanted to incentivize users to participate by entering everyone who watched the presentation in a drawing for a Windows 10 tablet. By setting the access permissions I was able to force logins with common personal credentials (not my organizations credentials) like a Microsoft, Google, or Facebook  account and track who took the session. I could download this to a spreadsheet, run a random number generator and pick a winner. In the download I could see the users name, time on each slide, answers to the quiz, correct and incorrect responses and total time they spent in the MIX. The site also allows users to leave comments and discuss the content. Did I mention this doesn’t require any fee or subscription expense? I’ve had hundreds of users from my organization access content from the site, take assessments and provide feedback and all I needed was my Microsoft account to publish the presentation and alert my users of its availability.

MIX is a great example of how Microsoft is expanding Office through plug ins and cloud support. I hope developers embrace this model and bring lots of functionality like MIX to the Office suite.

Visit the MIX site and explore the possibilities for your education and training needs.