Be so good they can’t ignore you. ~ Steve Martin ~
Why would you use Sway? There could be many reasons, but the one that resonates with me is that you can tell your awesome story amazingly with Sway.
Sway (rather Office Sway) was released by Microsoft in mid-2015. It allows you to create presentations online that are distinctly different from those made with PowerPoint.
Sways are stored on Microsoft’s servers and are tied to your Microsoft account. You can, of course, edit and view a Sway in any web browser. And, if you want just as I did, you can give your Sway a password so that it cannot be altered/edited by just about anyone.
In perspective, you can embed your own or any other video in your Sway presentation and/or your own or others’ tweets, audio, etc. as well.
This is a good opportunity to showcase your product or service (on the web) since you have granular control over what to show, and more importantly, how to show them.
Let us look at Sway’s main features, and how you can use it.
3 Main Sections in Sway
Look at the following screenshot. There are 3 main sections in Sway.
1. Input Section
All the items that you can use in your Sway presentation come in what I call the ‘Input’ section. There are 4 sources for the Input section –
Cards can be of different types as explained in the image below. Depending on what you want to show, you can choose Cards accordingly and place them in the Storyline in the order you want them to appear.
Finally, in the Preview section, you can see the result of your work. Often, the first draft will not be to your liking. In that case and also to explore different designs, you will go back to the Input section and occasionally to Storyline as well.
Your work is auto-saved in Microsoft’s ‘cloud’ servers and given a unique URL. Each time you make a change, it is reflected in your Sway without your having to do anything to save it.
Doing Sway Yourself
Practicing is everything in life, so instead of step-by-step instructions on how to use Sway, let me instead show you 2 examples of the same presentations below, which I’ve created in about half an hour for each.
The topic is my previous article on 7 workable features that can prevent student dropouts in an online course.
The same presentation is now given below with no lock-in password, it also has a new layout vertically scrolling design and it loops continuously with 3 seconds for each slide-view.
As a viewer, you can stop the looping or increase the slide time from the Settings option shown by a wheel icon on the presentation (bottom right).
I strongly encourage you to start creating your Sway yourself because when you do that you’ll usually come across many ideas that are typically your own.
Going forward, when you pursue them, you make your experience more enriching and long-serving, both for your own needs and for your clients and students.
Why Use Sway
There is practically no end to the types of presentation tools you may want to use. So, at a time when you can embed a PowerPoint presentation or a slideshow (made with some other tool) onto your web page, do you really need Sway for almost the same purpose?
Well, I guess you do need it and I’m going to explain why.
Let’s look at some of the uses for Sway both as a tool for interactive e-learning and from the angle of using it for business.
Sway for Education
To begin, let me quote from Sway FAQ on how it can be useful for education online –
Teachers have been using Sway to
- reimagine class lessons,
- recap class projects,
- provide supplemental material for parents,
- provide new accessible storytelling tools to their students, and more.
Students too use Sway to breathe new life into school projects, class reports, and even personal portfolios.
These are experiences by actual users, even the primary students find Sway a lot of fun to use and create their presentations.
Sway for Business
From the business point of view, a big plus for Sway is that it allows multiple users to work on the same Sway at the same time and see where each other is working on it, without having to save or refresh the browser.
In other words, you can work seamlessly with other users to create and edit your creations. And you can share editing permissions and coauthor at the same time, meaning multiple people can edit the same Sway at the same time.
Here are some examples of Sway for business and travel:
- Pitching to prospective clients
- Microsoft’s corporate storytelling
- A cycling expedition in the Himalayas
Advantages for Using Sway
As an online course creator I find several advantages in Sway, a few are mentioned below:
- Using a variety of media files is easy and this can be done by embedding them in your Sway. You can embed audio, video, charts, maps, image, tweets, etc. from external sources. You can even embed a Sway inside another Sway. All of this goes to make your Sway an enriching e-learning for the students.
- Hyperlinking is easy inside Sway, especially in the Text Card. This can be helpful when a Sway is made from contents (like blog posts) that need to have outgoing links to help the readers.
- Sway is free with a Microsoft account (Outlook.com, Live, Hotmail). However, Office 365 subscribers enjoy some additional advantages:
- Set your Sway to play automatically, set a time for the slides to move to the next, select to loop the Sway continuously.
- Add password protection to your Sway so that users/viewers cannot edit it. You can also remove the Sway informational footer from your creation.
- Enjoy enhanced content limits per Sway. This can be helpful when you’re creating a lengthy presentation like a travelogue. See image below.
- After creating a feature-rich Sway presentation, insert it in your web page using HTML inline frame or the <iframe> </iframe> tags. Once there, it will be like any other e-learning lesson, but with much more interactivity than any other medium. Take a look at my 2 Sways inserted above.
- Finally, upload your Sway to Docs.com to showcase your creation to the world like my presentation here.
At the time of launching Office Sway in October 2014, Microsoft had kindled a new hope by saying –
When your ideas are born, you want to explore, visualize and share them—quickly and easily, wherever you happen to be, and on whatever device you have. You want your ideas to be understood. Sway helps you do just that.
After having used it for a while, I’ve every reason to believe every word spoken above.
It’s time to hear your stories.
How is Sway helpful for you – do share your story in the comments below. Better still, send me your story for publishing in this blog.