The Sway Way

SocialMedia_Logo_Sway_400x400x32If you have Microsoft 365, you have Sway. And it’s awesome.

Is Sway® going to replace PowerPoint®? No
Is Sway® better than PowerPoint®? No
Is Sway® worth the effort? YES YES and YES!

Sway is like if PowerPoint® and Instagram got together and had a little adorable, mostly easy-going, but sometimes stubborn, child.

Sway is something else on its own. You tell a story with Sway. With just a little wiggle-room for creativity, Sway builds your pictures, text, and social media into a collage of awesomeness. If you’ve got a bunch of stuff to upload and you don’t mind an algorithmic display, Sway is the way to go.

So many video tutorials and a suggestion box make this program incredibly easy to use. I would say if you’re going to use it for the first time, play with it THEN view a tutorial.

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  • Preset designs make me feel like someone else is in control of how my Sway looks – this is good because I can spend HOURS trying to figure out what colors and fonts go well together
  • Accessibility built RIGHT IN! How cool!!
  • Easy – no true learning curve here. Everything you’d like to do is drag and drop
  • Super duper easy to collaborate with others!
  • Fancy shmancy privacy and sharing settings
    • Did I mention the embed feature?? ^^
  • Instant save/Instant update – Cloud storage is the best. It’s kind of scary to not have to worry about a save button! For us and our LMS it’s great because wherever the SWAY lives it updates instantaneously – no more having to go back into copies of courses and adjusting any edits that need to be made!
  • Pretty tech savvy-looking without the coding. This will make your presentation just a bit more enticing- may give it the edge you need.

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  • Images from Bing and Flickr  could be removed in an instant – I would suggest not including those kinds of photos in your Sway
    • If you do, down/upload them and insert – make sure to get your permissions!
  • The only social media site you can embed is Twitter, and you cannot embed a live feed, just single tweets
    • Apparently they’re “working on” adding social media sites to their catalog
  • Small vs Medium vs Large – Design needs tweaking
    • Any media ‘card’ can be placed on the Sway but the way it falls may not be as cute as an IG picstitch.
    • If you’re picky about how a presentation looks, Sway is not for you. If you’re easy going, make that Sway!
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Office Mix: Trials and Tribulations

office-mix-stacked-logoHere is my sincere review of the new plug-in for PowerPoint® – Office Mix.

Good lordy loo, where do I begin? First, if you’re not sure about what I’m talking about, please add this plug-in to your already existing software and play around with it. You can get started with some small projects by viewing these tutorials. Oh, and if you forgo reading this entire blog post, and you come across a super problem, it probably isn’t your mistake or your computer but an error or issue with Office Mix that is preventing your I_love_cats.pptx from not working as a Mix.

There’s a saying somewhere that describes lazy people being the best workers, simply because they’ll find a workaround to anything to get the job done fast. Alright. If you mix super lazy, speedy fast and accurate task-completer, and über-ly meticulous professional together… you’ve got me. Let me explain…

The Beginning

Everyone and their brother use Articulate Storyline. Fresh out of IDD school and I come to find out they taught me ZERO about software. I was picked and plopped in front of my desk without any Storyline experience whatsoever.  Luckily, I am a super fast learner and all around awesome person so it doesn’t really matter ;).

During my first month of being an IDDer, I had a grand opportunity to take training courses and learn anything I wanted! My mind exploded! Then, all of a sudden I had my first course and needed to learn the basics before I could add my own creativity. That first course came out as basic as a mocha frappuccino; served its purpose, super generic, yet delicious.

Next came my second course – I teetered back and forth: How do I add some interactivity in here? Well if I create an interactive component I need to make sure that I have time to complete it before the course is due- let’s start with something small!

Baby Steps

A very basic presentation of content was created. Students had the opportunity to choose one of two final projects for the course. I showcased the overview of each type of projects and the components associated in a spider web form of instruction. It was cool, hip, and easy. Right? A different way to access information instead of a document? Great! I’m done!

Yeah right…Woopty do…

It just wasn’t enough sparkle and pizzaz for my crazy-filled brain that just wanted more, more, and more!

So then this whole big craze about Office Mix swept my office. My director is so excited about it that he’s actually piloting a few of us to push it in our March courses for use by our SMEs and students. Others feel like it’s just another presentation tool.

Let’s get to the review, please!

Do you know PowerPoint® like the back of your hand? Awesome.
Are you willing to narrate or use video recording to relay information in an interactive way? Great.
Are you incredibly patient? Hmm
Do you have a tablet and stylus? Me either…

Pros

  1. Great if you want a narrative walk-through of a presentation, similar to a .ppsx
    • Gives the narrator the ability actually to record their own video via webcam or use screenshot abilities – similar to drawing on a SMARTboard in front of a class.
  2. Your Mix lives in cyberspace
    • LOVE the idea of updating a “file” that lives on the internet because it will instantly update wherever!
    • I think Office Mix is stepping towards this idea of cloud storage (MS 365) that everyone is super gung-ho about (including me)
  3. FREE
    • No explanation needed
  4. EASY
    • Depending on who you ask. But no really, easy as pie. Very small learning curve if any.
  5. FAST and POLITE customer service
    • I actually received a response from a rep at Microsoft who is the leader in the Mix department – fast, friendly, and answered my question without a condescending attitude! Rock on!

Cons

  1. Big huge con for what I needed to do: No ability to record audio files and “slide record” while triggering my transitions.
        • Mix says, “You cannot record on this slide because there is another media file present.” What on EARTH?! This is such a simple thing! The makers of Mix totally did this on purpose too, especially since there is a little disclaimer!
        • So you know what I had to do?? Live record every slide and silently press my spacebar as I came to each trigger word in my speech so the content would show as I presented it. I know it sounds petty, but this was a big deal as I value chunking in these types of presentation. It took a lot more planning from my side, but looking on the bright side: I had developed a transcript without knowing I needed to make one for accessibility purposes! Score!
          • I tested it out before I threw away the idea: I created an audio file of narration. Then, what I inserted it onto a slide. I wanted to screen record while the audio played and as I heard key words I would tab through my transitions of making content appear. Oh, noooo I couldn’t!
        • Check this out –this first slide with the Venn diagram took me an hour to 1) read correctly 2) and trigger correctly  ALL in one take. That’s a waste of time.
  2. Cannot make a Mix with hidden slides
    • What if I wanted to make a trivia game?  Learners can see all of the slides! No fun at all!
      • It’s like seeing your Christmas presents under the stairs in the linen closet when you’re 12 years old, and you shouldn’t believe in Santa, but you kind of do, but you know it’s wrong and you just want to magic to stay alive forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (me)

ProCon

  1. Mark-up on screen recording.
    • While helpful and useful to point out important information, you better have a tablet and a stylus unless you don’t mind being messy. I don’t know about you, but my mouse capabilities are not as pretty as I’d like them to be. If I needed to write out a mathematical equation, you bet I willtype out each line of the equation before I write it with my mouse and marker on the screen recorder.

The Nitty Gritty

I like Office Mix. A lot of my colleagues do not. I know exactly why: They know there’s better software out there. The problem is my time was limited. My time may continue to be limited and I will not mind continuing to use Mix as long as I need to. There’s a lot Mix developers need to do, and they know there is a need for them to get a new update up and running quickly.

Another Sample Mix for your viewing pleasure!

I’m out

Why do we limit ourselves?

“When you walked in here today, many of you didn’t believe you could draw, and I’ve got a question for you about that: How many other beliefs or limiting thoughts do we carry around with us every day? Beliefs that we could potentially challenge and think differently about. And if we did… what else could be possible for us all?”

Today I learned how to draw five different characters!

Found this enlightening TedTalk at JohnOlaughlin’s blog and it spoke to me immediately. I have strong feelings about mind-over-matter situations. If you try and believe that you can do something you can do it. However, you may not do it as well as another person – and you want to know why? Your outcome level is usually based on your own perceptions! I could go on all day, but there’s another reason I am sharing this video.

Modeling is, first and foremost, an excellent way to showcase expectations and proper methods. You, the model, is stating that “this” is an acceptable form of the outcome.

However, when does modeling take away from creativity? From thinking outside the box? We ask students of all ages to be the pioneers of the newest, greatest, and most fabulous thing that haven’t even been thought of or invented, yet we model everything.

There is only a handful of ways to tie shoe laces; there’s even a rhyme about bunnies to go with it! So what was the final straw for the inventor of the no-lace shoe? Did that idea of modeling tying one’s shoe over and over again irritate someone so much that they decided to invent the million dollar idea? If we teach people to do something one way, is it beneficial? If so, at what cost? In what terms? What subjects or situations?

Modeling is beneficial, don’t get me wrong, but I think it needs to be done at an appropriate time with a lot of room and focus for creativity.

Modeling for proof of self-ability and gratification is the goal. Add a sprinkle of creativity and free-form and you’ve got yourself the best type of modeling!

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