App-Smashing with Microsoft Sway and Office Mix

Published On: March 13th, 2016·By ·

App-Smashing to Create Breath-Taking Presentations

App-SmashingThe choice was easy: either take a bucket of cold water to the head (for which I would definitely be holding my breath) or create a video response that might be breathtaking.

For many years, I have enjoyed trying different ways to combine creations from various digital applications and software and put them together to make memorable presentations. This ALS Ice Water Challenge was my chance to do some real app-smashing.

App-smashing is combining content from a variety of apps and software to create something both visually engaging and exciting. How much more interesting is a presentation when it includes elements like specialized graphic art or humorous video clips? (Or Mrs. Dunbar doing her best Betsy Ross impression?) App-smashing requires creativity and problem-solving skills in order to figure out a place where all your creations can come together. And best of all, app-smashing can be done across platforms.

Back in the early days of home computing, working across platforms was not easy. I can still remember the thrill of figuring out a complicated wiring that allowed our Macintosh to talk to our PC computer. Now it’s easy to create a collage on an iPad and send it to your PC to use in a PowerPoint.

With the introduction of Sway and Office Mix, Microsoft has provided an easy way to get into app-smashing. Sway is the online presentation website that allows the creator to bring in content from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Bing image searches, and even upload or embed your own material. It’s even possible to import (you could say “smash”) a PowerPoint into a Sway to make it an even more exciting product! (Fun fact:  if you know the exact YouTube URL, you can copy-and-paste it into the Sway YouTube insert bar to get the exact video you are looking for.)

Office Mix (a new and free downloadable add-in for PowerPoint) allows the designer to record video content to go along with the PowerPoint and even record it for viewing online. With the ability to insert polls and quizzes into PowerPoint, Office Mix allows anyone to smash additional content into their PowerPoint presentation that can not only inform the viewer, but also the designer, as it creates a database of responses recorded.

It’s easy to start app-smashing on your own, too. Create word art with this week’s vocabulary words and insert it in a PowerPoint to start a conversation to activate prior knowledge. Have students add a little humor to their PowerPoint reports on historical figures by creating movie posters or magazine covers on Big Huge Labs to save and insert. Use Office Mix to spice things up with specially recorded video content. Write, sing and record your own background music. Most of all, have fun!

Whatever you do, it’s time to show both students and teachers that it only takes a little time and creativity to craft presentations that can take your breath away.


Tammy Dunbar teaches fifth grade in Manteca Unified School District and Pre-Service Technology at Teachers College of San Joaquin in Stockton, California. She is a popular presenter and trainer around the country. She presented at the 2015 Microsoft Global E2 conference (where she earned two global awards for project excellence) and will be presenting at ISTE 2016 (with Angela Maiers), CUE 2016, ETC! 2016 and CTA’s Good Teaching Conference 2016. Follow her @TammyDunbar or find her here.

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