Getting Student Feedback on @sway
Capturing the Essence of Creativity #create

Time to #create with @sway

Watching a dozen students co-author with Sway.

WORKING ON A CAMPUS that is served by a full suite of Office 365 products, I try to leverage tools that sit in students' app launcher. Sway is one of those tools and I'm happy to see how robust it has become since we first started using it in 2015.

Creative with Sway


I use Sway to capture thoughts arising from overhead questions. Today, I asked 13 students to capture the essence of their creative process in six words. I wanted them to share their observations on a Sway that I shared on Twitter before class started.

Sway on Twitter
Screengrab of Sway URLs shared on Twitter.

I've learned a few basic lessons related to Sway that might benefit others hoping to leverage Sway as a collaborative sharing zone.

Tip 1. Keep things simple. We start our adventure with Sway by going to an edit link, adding a heading and dropping a still image onto the Sway. Students click on the plus sign on the editable Sway and normally put their name or handle in the heading. In doing this, they establish a placeholder in the Sway.

Tip 2. Start brief. In our case, that means six word challenges and still images only.

Tip 3. Limit simultaneous editors to 10 log-ons. Our campus Sharepoint services won't permit more than 10 people editing at once. To facilitate more than 10 students, I pass around a Surface Pro computer that is logged onto the Sway's edit screen. This allows a full complement of 24 students access to edit rights in the Sway.

Tip 4. Develop an active archive of images defined by exact titles. Most of my students have small online collections on Flickr or similar services. If they can see the titles of images they have previously uploaded and shared, Sway can find those images when searching for the exact title of the images. This means students can recraft their own images and illustrations by quickly pulling them onto the Sway canvas when finding those images by searching for an exact phrase. The exact phrase needs to be in the image's title. Many of my students learn to set up Flickr accounts during their fourth month on campus. They also have the app on their mobile phones where it's easy to locate collateral by exact phrase when scrolling through Flickr groups where they've previously shared their content.

Tip 5. Share lessons learned. I have a section inside a OneNote Class Notebook where I solicit student responses to technical lessons learned. For the most part, that feedback affirms the simple and elegant creative process enabled when co-authoring a Sway as part of a practical tasking. I learn from the snags students share and know there's a lot of peer learning happening at the same time as students review each other's comments.

We'll become more expert at Sway during the months ahead. Feel free to subscribe to to watch our co-authoring experience evolve.

[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative multimedia, digital animation, sports management and business students in the Limerick Institute of Technology.]