This has brought up a few new challenges, but also many creative solutions, some using tools that already exist but have been overlooked, such as Microsoft Sway.
As mentioned in previous posts, Sway is a piece of software that can be used on a Windows desktop or in-browser on any capable device. It produces interactive presentations, similar to those you might see from PowerPoint, but without the need to have someone actively presenting them. This style of presentation allows people to view or review the content at their own pace, as many times as they need, making Sway particularly useful for learning or training situations. In this post, we’ll continue our more in-depth look at some of Sway’s functions and features.
Each page is presented as a card, and each piece of information on it is presented as a sub-card within. You can add text, media such as videos and audio, links or embeds, or add a group of items to be displayed together as such. You can choose how a group of items is displayed – as an on-screen interactive stack, as a slideshow, a grid, or even a comparison slider to compare two images.
You can also change how prominent each card is on the screen by adjusting its emphasis, making sure that important information is the most eye-catching.
Since text and images will most likely form a large part of any presentation, the features here are easy to access and use, but also well thought out and useful. Add headings, lists, links, add emphasis or weight to text in your paragraphs, or change the fonts and colours.
Add any number of images or background images, from many sources – you can add your own images, or search from within the app for Creative Commons licensed images to avoid copyright infringement.
Advanced options for images allow you to set a focal point for each image. Because of how Sway dynamically adjusts the content for display on different types of device and different orientations – such as for a desktop in landscape (wide) mode or a mobile phone in portrait (tall) mode – it may cut off the edges of some images. You can tell Sway which part of the image is important, so that when it resizes or crops the image, it does so in a way that leaves the important part of the image visible. Alternatively, you can tell Sway that the whole image is important, and it will adjust to display the whole image in your presentation where possible.
Upload audio or video to your Sway, or embed content that is already online elsewhere, such as from Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube or SoundCloud – or any number of other services that allow their content to be embedded (this is usually visible as a ‘sharing’ option).
Rich, interesting and engaging content is the key to holding viewers’ attention; videos and sounds associated with your topic, such as a short instructional video or similar, can be very useful in making a difference in how your presentation is received.