I’ll be honest. The first time I heard about Microsoft Sway, I thought it was like New Coke. Microsoft, what are you saying about PowerPoint that you have to have another presentation tool? Looking back, I’m amazed now that I “didn’t get it” the first couple times I looked at it. Since then, I’ve seen elementary students run with Sway, because it’s so simple and streamlined, so easy to make and so easy to make look good.
Welcome to Day 51 of 365 Ideas for Office 365.
When I share Microsoft Sway with teachers, I like to ask, ‘What do your students spend ,most of their time doing when they are supposed to be making a presentation in PowerPoint or Google slides? The answers are usually, “Changing colors and fonts, finding, resizing and cropping images, trying to make it look good” (Or what the students think looks good.)
What I love about Sway is how it naturally forces students to focus on the content. You know, the ideas we actually want them to learn and be able to explain. Sway uses AI to do the design work, so students don’t have to spend their limited time on appearances. Function before form, but, not without form.
Building a Sway from scratch
Instead of slides, Microsoft Sway is built with cards. The card type matches the content. There are two types of Text cards- headings and text. They are both on the Suggested tab when you click on the plus sign to create a new card. They’re also under the Text tab, but they’re the only things there, and they’re already on the suggested tab, so there’s really no reason to go to the Text tab.
There are two types of Text cards- headings and text. The Media tab has options for Image, audio, video, embed code or file upload from your device.
The group tab is interesting, in that it gives 5 different options for showing a collection of pictures.
Although a Sway is a presentation, it looks more like a website. A Sway can scroll up and down or left to right, and it’s easy to switch that. The last setting, instead of scrolling, allows you to click through like a slideshow. Because it’s so simple to switch the viewing mode, a student can switch to the slide mode to do a live presentation to the class, then switch back to the website-like horizontal or vertical rolling for teachers and classmates to look through independently.
Cards can be reordered by simply clicking and dragging. Dragging one image on top of another automatically creates a gallery. Don’t like which type of gallery was automatically chosen? You click on the card and choose one of the other 4 group types.
To add content, choose from Sway’s search (Powered by Wikipedia), your own OneDrive, Bing Images, YouTube or upload from your device. Flickr and Pickit are also available if your school or district allows access. (Mine doesn’t).
You can create a Sway from scratch, just by adding cards, and let the AI take care of the design work.
There are others ways to create a Sway besides creating from scratch in Microsoft Sway, and some other features that we will look at throughout the rest of the week.
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