This week’s tool chosen for review is Sway. Many of you have seen how this tool works and most of our 6th graders in the district have had some experience with it. I think it is one of the better and easier presentation tools available to us through our Office 365 accounts. It is free as well to those who choose to create an individual Microsoft account. It can be found at https://sway.com/education/. Its uses are many. It allows you to create interactive classroom or business presentations easily. Digital stories and even student portfolios for work could be created with this tool. To describe it simply, it’s a tool somewhere between Powerpoint and Prezi. It’s cool without making you dizzy, like Prezi sometimes can.
It’s an online tool so there is no download needed and can be created/viewed on any device. Simplicity of use is one of its best qualities. Some of our 6th graders watched the 4 minute tutorial and within minutes were moving through it creating their content. They added photos, videos, audio, charts and even tweets as they were suggested within the “add” capability. There are suggested items to add that are driven by the text that is input into the “cards.” Beyond the suggested items, Sway is also connected with Flickr, Bing, Pickit, One Drive, and Youtube. Choosing images/videos from your own account within each of these services along with those stored on your device is an option.
How to use:
One of the best features that I have found is the incorporation of Creative Commons licensing. It gives a check box that when marked will only pull those items within the CC license. There is even a link to learn more about copyright within the disclaimer agreement above the image/video content that states “You are responsible for respecting others’ rights, including copyright.” If this box is unchecked it will pull all results based on the term search. That could be a problem if students choose to remove that option.
There are many design options and they are customizable. What I did find limiting was the fact that there are only 3 layouts which can sometimes not fit the design in mind.
The option to collaborate with another author is also available as well as the capability to share out with a link or embed code. Embed code can also be used in the Sway itself which could technically allow you to embed a Sway within a Sway.
As mentioned above I could see this being used for general presentations, as well as housing student work to be shared as a sampling for parents or even in more detail as a student portfolio. For vocabulary purposes, it could be used to introduce vocab within a lesson or students could create their own study guides of vocab and share through the link with classmates. Since these can be embedded and even remixed by another if you allow in the settings, students could begin creating a personal study tool for their vocabulary.