Welcome to Day Eight of Digital January. Today we're going to take a look at Sway, a simple tool which allows you to create short digital presentations or professional-looking online documents.
If you've got a moment and you're enjoying Digital January - or even if you're not - why not give us some feedback on our Padlet (and see Day Three for an introduction to Padlet).
What does it do?
Sway does some of the things PowerPoint does, but goes further in that you can use it to design glossy and engaging digital documents - brochures, leaflets, presentations, personal stories or reports.
You'll be familiar with PowerPoint, but it does have its limitations - it can look bland and generic and sometimes distracts attention from the presenter. There are several alternatives around - you may have come across Prezi for instance, but Sway is probably the most capable of those alternatives.
While Powerpoint started as a tool to (primarily) create static slide sets in the form of presentations that could be displayed on an overhead projector (some of you may remember them?), Sway is Microsoft's presentation tool designed for creation and delivery online. It allows you to create professional designs in minutes, combining text, images and videos to your Sway canvas from a device or internet sources to create a polished, cohesive layout that enhances the value of your story. When your viewers view it, Sway intelligently arranges to suit the screen size. Here's an example of a Sway - if you can, look at it on a phone, laptop and tablet and see how it adjusts to the device you use.
When would you use it?
Sway makes it quick and easy to create and share sleek, interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more. So if you're due to deliver a talk on your dissertation, need to present a team idea, or if you just want to showcase something to others in the best way possible, Sway might just be the perfect tool for you to do it with.
Sway feels more dynamic than PowerPoint and doesn't leave you feeling slightly seasick like Prezi can do. It flows better and looks more like a simple video than a relatively static slideshow. It can also be set up to work like a brochure or eBook to use as a promotional tool or an alternative way of presenting an essay, report or project. Check out this Sway to see an example of how a decent presentation might look.
It really doesn't take long to put a Sway together. However, as with any presentation, it’s best if you have a good idea in mind of the content and resources you want to use. If you need images and haven’t found any, it has an inbuilt search tool to help you find Creative Commons licensed images – it even automatically references them for you. You can set it up to work in a particular way and manage every aspect of its look and feel, but you can also trust it to auto-create a presentation from a document you already have (in MS-Word, for example). If you use this approach you may need to tweak the resulting presentation to get it to work just right, but it saves a lot of time and effort by creating something intuitively from work you may already have done.
How do you access it?
Sway is one of the suite of tools available as part of the Microsoft Office 365 platform. It's free for all staff and students, and is available on your University desktop or via www.office.com
A link to Sway can be found in your online email (Outlook). Simply log in, click on the tiles icon in the top left corner, then select Sway and get started! You can even get it as an App via the Android or Apple store on your mobile phone or tablet. Sign in with your full UoD username (remember - this is your email address with no dots between initials, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) and password.
Where can you get help to use it?
There's a useful introductory video available here:
For a more in-depth training course aimed at beginners (1 hr 15 minutes) via lynda.com go here. Remember, you'll need your University login details to access lynda.com.
What Digital Literacy skills will Sway help you to develop?
The University of Dundee has a Digital Literacies Framework which sets out what sort of digital skills you should have, whether you're a student or a staff member. It's unlikely you'll have all the skills contained in the Framework (yet!), but this project can help you get started in developing some new ones. To see the Framework click here and click on Digital Literacies Framework at Dundee University to download a copy.
Using a digital presentation tool is an aspect of DIMENSION 5 - Collaborate and share digital content as outlined in the Framework.
COME BACK TOMORROW AND THROUGHOUT JANUARY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GOING DIGITAL