The simplest way I can describe Sway is that it lets you publish visually attractive materials, including multimedia elements, that will look good on a PC browser or a student’s smartphone, without you having to know too much about design or the device the reader will see it on. It’s very different to PDFs, which might look great on a big screen, but become unreadable on a phone as you’ll be constantly zooming in and out on text and diagrams.
Since it was launched last October, I’ve been experimenting with it for different kinds of online publications. For example a white paper on student attrition, a travel diary and for trialling conversion of PDF/paper publications. None of these are amazing productions, as they’re the result of me playing with Sway’s features.
Since the first version of Sway was rolled out, there have been a huge number of updates announced on the Sway blog, so here’s a run down of key Sway features for teachers and students announced so far this month:
Collaborative creation and editing of Sways
- You can add additional authors by simply inviting them with a link
- Keep track of who has access and who is editing from the My Sways page
- Whilst you’re editing a sway, you can see who else is editing at the same time
These features are great to allow a teacher or student to start off a piece of work, and then amend it collaboratively. Eg a teacher creates a framework, and then students add their own text and pictures into their piece, creating one single Sway at the end. Or students could work collaboratively on a Sway on different devices – from a browser, or in the iPad or iPhone app – making it easier to add their own photos from their device.
- Make a copy of a Sway
This is handy for a teacher to create a template for a homework assignment, or a reporting template, or a lesson plan, and then make a copy each time they want to use it, or share it with students.
Interactive Charts and embedded objects
- You can now create a chart in Sway that users can click on items to refine the view (eg to remove datasets, or focus on specific lines in a line chart)
- Since January you have been able to embed other objects from the web (like YouTube videos), and now the team have simplified the process of embedding Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDF documents and PowerPoint slides – making drag and drop.
This would be useful where you have a pre-existing curriculum resource, like a PowerPoint or worksheet, and you want to provide it to students alongside a multimedia lesson plan.
All on top of what Sway already had…
All of this is in addition to the new features added to Sway since launch, like the iPhone apps, the import from PDF/Word/PowerPoint documents.
You can dive into using Sway straight away at https://sway.com/,
or take a look at the Sway team’s examples of use cases for teachers,
or read some of the stories of what other people have done with Sway: