Think of Sway Less as a Presentation Tool...More as a Visual Story Creator
Community Review for Sway
As a teacher who still uses presentation tools in my class, I was looking for a program/app that enabled me to create content that was more visually satisfying than Slides or PowerPoint. While at the same time, I was looking for something that was easy to use as well. Sway does that for me. I like to think of it less of a presentation tool, and more as a story creator.
I truly love the drag and drop ease that Sway has utilized. No longer do you have to scour the web for usable materials for your story or presentation. Now you can search creative common material, and it provides the citation for you. This makes it amazingly simple (too simple, perhaps?) for students to effectively create a story, to be shared, that they can easily cite and source. The ability to embed social media posts also makes it very friendly for modern day presentations. I love the visual focus that Sway has employed, it is obvious that one of the main goals of the developers was to "make it look good." This is another area that sets Sway apart from other presentation tools. How often have we had students present, and their slideshows just blend into the background? The same templates, the same color scheme. Sway has templates, but when I was watching my students' projects, I wasn't thinking that they looked the same.
Honestly speaking, however, I don't know how much I would use the app for a simple presentation. There are no interactive elements, like Slides has integrated, or many other apps that can be used for quizzing or polling. It isn't Nearpod, which means that you can't have a guided presentation, with embedded materials for interaction with the audience. For my specific uses, it works as I need it to. But I would not necessarily jump to switch to use it for simple one-to-many presentations. I would also like to see collaborative tools built into this in the future, both of student-teacher and student-student varieties.
How I Use It
My use of Sway has been two-fold. Firstly, I have used Sway as a presentation device. I tried to use it as a direct replacement for PowerPoint, Slides or Keynote, but I did not feel as if it was well-used in that situation. As a simple one-to-many presentation tool where it is displayed on the screen, it was more cumbersome than it needed to be. However, I did find that when used as a synchronous presentation tool, with my students on their iPads in class, that worked much more effectively. The ability to change the format of the presentation to visually fit the needs of the presenter, and the audience viewing it on their device, is a welcome addition to the standard slide presentation apps.
Secondly, and more importantly, I found it a very capable app for the students to use to create presentations for class. For their ongoing semester project, students create a presentation that needs to incorporate photos, videos, and text to the class. In the past, I've used MyHistro and Prezi to complete their ongoing project. However, I felt that Sway offered the easiest and most effective way for students to create a visually appealing and substantive presentation. They could add creative commons photos, videos, and other materials simply by dragging and dropping into the timeline. When I asked students about their use, they all stated it took them awhile to get used to the different way of creating a story/presentation. But once they learned that, they found it easy to make something that looked good and reflected what they were trying to share.