Sway

Sway logo (book with an S on the cover)

Sway is a web-based Microsoft Office tool that allows users to convey information as a newsletter, presentation, or document. Users can customize their Sway with headings, text, video, and images. Sways can be created from scratch, from a template, or from an existing file such as an outline created in Word. Content is then organized into sections called cards which can be easily dragged and dropped to reorder the information. Sway allows presenters, teachers, and students to visually organize the information they want to share and each Sway has its own link so that Sways can be shared easily on the web and through email or social media.

 

Price Free with Microsoft Office 365
Type of learning

Social constructivism; Connectivism; Constructionism

Ease of Use ★★★★
Privacy ★★★
Accessibility ★★★★★
Access ★★★★
Class Size Unlimited
Login Required Yes
COPPA/FERPA Compliant Yes/Yes
ISTE Standards for Students Empowered Learner, Knowledge Constructor, Creative Communicator

 

 

Ease of use

Microsoft provides a good tutorial on its website; YouTube users have posted their own guides to using Sway; and the help feature is useful.

Screenshot of Sway tutorial Microsoft Support

Microsoft offers a written tutorial on how to create a project in Sway available at https://support.office.com/

However, it takes some playing around to get used to the tool. Since it’s a web-based app, the menus are different than standard Office menus. Learning to use the features to make your Sway go beyond a substitution for PowerPoint takes time.

Privacy

Microsoft’s privacy statement is robust and complete, but still fairly easy to read. Users can control how much data they provide, however, some data is required to make a tool like Sway work (email address, password). Data is shared with 3rd parties, but some settings can be adjusted. Microsoft is Privacy Shield compliant.

Cost

There is no cost to use Sway as long as you have a Microsoft account. Free accounts are available to schools for both students and teachers and Sway is included in the free package. Sway is also ad-free. However, a Microsoft login in is required and Microsoft’s privacy policy indicates user data is shared with 3rd parties including advertisers.

Accessibility

Microsoft has an accessibility statement. In Sway there are tips/best practices provided to make your Sway as accessible as possible. There is also an accessibility checker to review your work. Sway works with screen readers/narrators and can be used with just a keyboard (no mouse required).

Access

Sway can be used on all desktops and tablets and can be used without downloading any software or plugins. A highspeed connection isn’t required. Sways can be viewed on mobile phones, but editing on iphones isn’t possible and the Sway app for iOS is being discontinued.

Sway & the SAMR Model

Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model offers a lens for examining how technology is adopted in a classroom. As you strive to incorporate online tools into your classroom, we encourage you to use this model as an analytic tool.

Here is an example of how Sway might fit within the SAMR model:

  • Substitution: Students create a Sway instead of a written book report.
  • Augmentation: Students include photos, videos, and other graphics in their Sway to help classmates visualize the setting and time period of the book.
  • Modification: Students utilize the voice over capability in Sway to present their reports virtually instead of in the classroom
  • Redefinition: The teacher can create a Sway linking all of the presentations together to create a gallery of reports. Students can also add editors to their projects to work on them together in real time.  

Far too often, technology is used as a direct substitute for other low-tech tools (e.g., pencil and paper). While substitution has some benefits (e.g., students develop their technology skills and knowledge), we encourage you to think about how you might use Sway to modify or redefine learning.

Learning Activities

Math

The first card in a Sway called Triangles: Triple Trouble

The first card of a Sway about triangles

  • Students make a Sway that includes a video explanation of the different type of triangles and include a gallery of images showing where the triangles occur in their environment or everyday life.

Science

  • Students “adopt” a mountain and use Sway to present maps and photos of their mountain, images of the types of rock that make up the mountain, etc…
  • Students photograph insects they find in their homes and neighborhoods and use Sway to organize their photos by order or family

English/Language Arts

  • Students contribute articles to a classwide newsletter displayed on Sway.
  • Students practice technical writing by creating a user manual for their favorite kitchen appliance and publish the manual on Sway as a documentation.

Other

  • Art teachers could use Sway to create a gallery of their students’ work for a particular unit and then share the gallery with students in different classes, grades, or schools in the same district.

Resources

How to Use Sway

Research