Free Tech Tool Tuesday – Canva

Easily Create Beautiful Designs and Documents with Canva

This post has been cross posted with Giant Ed Tech, written by Lisa Berghoff

I talk to so many teachers who say “Oh, I’m really not a tech person”.  Of course those of us who are into growth mindset understand that all that really means is that it will take time, hard work, and perseverance to improve on those skills.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m REALLY not a design person. The part of people’s brains that makes sense of space and where things go in a room, on a page, or even clothing on a body just doesn’t seem to be present in my brain.  I do, however, enjoy using tools that make it seem like I am a design person because I can still create amazing images even though I’ve had a little help.  I also understand the importance of visuals in the classroom and if you’re going to use them, the quality needs to be fantastic.

Think about your students.  You probably have some amazingly creative students and you probably have some students who cringe at any sort of artistic project. We know that students learn best when they have multiple opportunities to work with new information in different ways.  Therefore, we often ask our students to create presentations but we don’t give them information about basic principles of design and so we end up looking at powerpoint presentations that are filled with tiny text or images that crowd the screen.  That is why I’m excited to introduce you to

Canva allows you to create presentations, social media graphics, online posters, magazine covers, documents, marketing materials, etc. that look fantastic with very little experience in the world of design.  The website is free (there is also an ipad app) and there are thousands of free open source images to use, as well as some options for purchase.   Of course you can always use your own images and easily drag and drop them right into your Canva design.

Canva was founded by Melanie Perkins, who was teaching graphic design programs at the University of Western Australia.  When she realized that many of her students struggled with the basics on tope of trying to learn complicated programs, she decided to create an online tool that would allow new students to experience success with less frustration.

Screenshot of Canva Design School

The drag and drop format of Canva makes creating professional looking visuals straightforward and non-threatening.  There is also a “design school” tab with tutorials and teaching materials intended for classroom use. I managed to successfully navigate three of the basic interactive tutorials in about 15 minutes. The beginner’s challenges  highlight basic principles such as the benefits of color and the idea that less is more.  Some of these may seem obvious to you, but to me (and many of your students) it was helpful to see and interact with the examples to observe the differences in design.  The Canva blog is fascinating and covers topics such as Powerful Examples of Visual Propaganda, and Build Your Brand: How To Choose The Right Fonts. 

I highly recommend that you take a few minutes to check out Canva.  You can easily create wonderful visuals to use in your teaching, or have your students get creative and share with you, each other, or the world.  How do you use the power of visuals in your classroom?  Post in the comments section below.

Canva image created by Lisa Berghoff