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Search "swf" for Interactive Content

Written by Trey Smith
August 25, 2010

The Web is teeming with interactive learning simulations, games, and informational pages. Some parts of the Web are more interactive than others. Is there a way to find interactive sites that can be used in the classroom?

A number of interactive websites include interactive pages that are actually saved as SWF files. SWF is an acronym for “Small Web Format.” SWF files, created using Adobe programs like Flash and viewed using the free program Abode Flash Player, use animations and applets that allow for different kinds of interactivity. An SWF file is simply another file format like MP3 (music), HTML (web page), MOV (Apple Quicktime movie), or DOC (Microsoft Word). Often a traditional webpage might be saved as a file with “.html” as the file extension. However, interactive pages are sometimes saved as files with an “.swf” extension.

So, how does knowing about the “.swf” file extension help someone find interactive content on the Internet? It’s fairly simple:

  1. Think of a topic or concept to be covered in a class. (Example: natural selection)
  2. Go to a search engine site online. (Examples:,
  3. Type in your topic AND type “swf” (Example: natural selection swf)
  4. Sift through the results to find interactive content. The interactive files are generally listed along with a [FLASH] tag on a site like google.

For example, a Google search using the phrase “natural selection swf” yields a number of interactive pages.

For an English teacher, a Google search using the phrase “subject verb agreement swf” yields a few different SWF pages that address grammar.

A general search using a search engine may not always produce the desired results and often requires a great amount of patience. The Web is so crowded with content it is often difficult to make sense of it all. By performing a search with “swf,” a teacher may very well stumble upon an interactive site that might otherwise remain hidden among a number of less dynamic sites.

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