Teaching Tools

Microsoft Sway

Microsoft sway logo

Sway is an online tool from Microsoft that allows users to create interactive communications, presentations, stories and newsletters to be both visually appealing and engaging to the audience. Sway’s integrated design tools effortlessly bring your content together, and displays this in a user-friendly web-based format that’s easily accessible regardless of the device being used to access the content.

Is Sway a Replacement for Powerpoint?

In a word, no! Sway is an additional tool from Microsoft aimed at creating visually impacting and interactive communication, whilst removing a lot of the manual design process.

Both Powerpoint and Sway have their places in teaching and learning. Powerpoint is an excellent tool for presenting content, particularly when there is an actual presenter delivering this content. However, take this presenter away and the Powerpoint presentation often becomes less impactful and engaging – This is where Sway steps in!

‘Sways’ are designed to engage your audience regardless of whether or not there is a presenter presenting. The built-in design engine adds transitions and interactivity to your content at the touch of a button. There’s no need to spend hours on formatting or design, as Sway takes care of this for you in a very user-friendly way. Like a Powerpoint presentation, Sways can be viewed by manually scrolling through the content, but adds the ability to scroll both vertically and horizontally. Presentations can also be viewed in playback mode, in similar way to watching a video.

Benefits of Using Sway

Speed & Automation: Sway can transform basic content into consistent structured layouts, adding colours and themes with just a few clicks. The manual work required to produce something visually similar in Powerpoint generally takes longer, and allows you to spend more time concentrating on the message being delivered to your audience as opposed to the design of your content.

Simple & Intuitive: Sway has a much simpler interface than Powerpoint. This can be advantageous in that users are not overwhelmed by the number of features and functions available, making navigation and content creation straightforward.

Repurpose Existing Content: You can easily import content from existing Powerpoint, Word and PDF files into Sway to simplify the creation of your new Sway presentations.

Integration of Multimedia Content: Easily search for media on the web using Sway’s built-in content search facility, and effortlessly import into your presentation. Sway can also make suggestions on what media to import based on the images and text within your presentation.

Presenter-less Presenting: Using Powerpoint effectively often requires a presenter. Powerpoint slides are designed to complement and aid a presenter, but ultimately to your audience, you as the academic, take centre stage. In much the same way as a website, Sways do not require a presenter, allowing you to really concentrate on the message that you are trying to convey to your audience. The interactive nature of Sway presentations allow students to more easily digest information when compared to using test-heavy slides in Powerpoint. Sways are responsive, dynamic, and mobile friendly, easily adapting to whatever internet-based device they are being accessed from.

Collaboration & Sharing: Sway is cloud-based (online) software, encouraging collaboration with others. By simply clicking on the share button, adding additional authors, and sharing your Sway’s URL, multiple users can create and edit presentations together. Once your Sway is complete, you can seamlessly share this within Blackboard by embedding the content using iFrame embed code, in a similar way to how you would embed a video from the University’s video portal.