Microsoft’s Sway has been around since August 2015. However, I haven’t heard many people talking about it or seen many using it. I decided to spend some time exploring this tool to learn more about it. For those of you who haven’t heard of Sway, Microsoft refers to it as a digital storytelling app. Sway is a presentation tool that makes it easy for users to create a media rich presentation. Rather than inserting slides as one would in PowerPoint, you insert “cards.” You choose between various text-based cards or media-based cards.

Sway also allows you to search for and embed images, videos, documents and more without having to leave the tool. An added bonus is the Creative Commons checkbox near the search box so you can easily find content that you will have permission to use. Another great feature is the interactivity Sway provides when embedding images. You can embed a slide show, stack images, and there is an image comparison tool that allows users to drag a slider across the image to look at a before and after image. Sway also offers a “Remix” tool that will provide new design options.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 4.00.15 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 3.49.10 PM

I find Sway to be a nice compromise between PowerPoint and Prezi. It is easier to create a more visual presentation than in PowerPoint and there is less motion to deal with than in Prezi (I personally haven’t had luck creating an effective Prezi). I see potential for Sway as a student presentation tool and a more interesting and interactive way to share a presentation asynchronously (embedded in the LMS or website).

Here are a few of the features that I found beneficial (in addition to the ones mentioned above):

  • Options to make the navigation horizontal, vertical, or let Sway decide.
  • Ability to drag and drop an outline or text into Sway.
  • Import an existing PPT (although it may be better to rethink your presentation and not try to recreate a PPT in Sway).
  • Easily collaborate with others by adding authors. You also have the option to collaborate on the presentation synchronously using Skype.
  • Integration with Flickr, YouTube, DropBox and more.
  • Ability to embed maps or the embed code for 3D objects.

Here are a few limitations to keep in mind:

  • You cannot create graphics in Sway. If you used Smart Art, shapes, or other tools in PPT to create content, you would have to import them or come up with an alternative.
  • You cannot download and save your presentation. This is a cloud based tool after all. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but I have run into issues in the past where someone created a presentation in a cloud based tool. I needed to revise the presentation and did not want to use the same tool, so I ended up spending a lot of time recreating the presentation.
  • I was hoping there was a built-in quiz tool like there is in Office Mix. However, I did learn that you can embed a Poll Everywhere poll in the presentation.

Sharing your presentation is easy. Sway allows you to decide how you want to share: within your organization only, anyone with a link or public. You can publish to social media sites or copy the embed code to add to Blackboard or a website. I like the fact that you can allow viewers to duplicate your Sway which contributes to open educational resources.

Microsoft has some helpful tutorials to help you get started if you would like to try Sway out for yourself: