I’ll never forget the first time that I saw another teacher add clip art to a handout for students. Suddenly, my purely text-based handouts seemed lame and inaccessible. There is no doubt that we have come a long way in terms of our ability to enhance our materials for all types of learners. Today, it is a simple process to add visuals to our materials (as well as audio, video, and animations). Multimedia literacy has become more and more important in life, and it is increasingly important in the classroom. And just as clip art once put my text-only handouts to shame, there are now digital tools that enable us to step up our game beyond the free clip art that we find on the web.

There are tons of great tools for designing and creating great visuals that look professional regardless of our own artistic talents or design experience. There are amazing photo tools, art tools, and visualization tools that can help us create engaging learning objects that will grab our students’ attention and enhance their understanding. Not only that, but these tools can help us develop a classroom brand that helps us capture and convey the great things that are going on in our classrooms. One of the best tools for designing and creating compelling graphical images is Canva. Whether you are looking to design a poster, an image for a presentation, graphics for handouts, or branding for your social media accounts, Canva make the design process easy.

What is Canva?

Check out this intro video to get a clearer sense of what Canva can do:

And here are some examples of graphics I created with Canva:

The Playground AdvocateOCTOBER 2014Monthly eLeader Challenge Nov2014 (1)Your time is limited, so don't waste it

Why Canva?

There are several reasons why I love Canva as a classroom creation tool. First, it is entirely possible to create with Canva without spending any money. Their model is to offer their basic features library for free. Then, they sell additional graphic features (pictures, layouts, text features) per item used. But the free library is truly abundant. Also, they allow users to upload their own images, so between the Canva library and my own resources, I can easily design objects for free. Second, I love that Canva has already designed templates for some of the graphic objects I am most likely to want to create including presentation slides, posters, documents, and social media headers. Third, Canva comes complete with some amazing design tutorials, so I can learn more about how to make my designs effective as I use the product. Finally, I am able to share my designs by either downloading them, getting a link to share them online, or sharing them through Twitter and/or Facebook.

Getting Started

Here are some resources to get you going:

Suggested Uses

  1. Design business cards to introduce yourself to your class.
  2. Design appealing logos for your classroom social media accounts.
  3. Create collages of classroom experiences to share with parents and the community.
  4. Design posters and invitations to promote extra-curricular events.
  5. Create graphics designed to introduce a topic.
  6. Create visual discussion-starters or writing prompts.
  7. Create images designed to explain a process or explain a concept.
  8. Create book covers and graphics for ePortfolios or Student Binders.
  9. Create infographics based on data collected around a topic.
  10. Create posters that promote a positive shared classroom culture.

Why it Matters (Teaching Rubric)

The ability to create materials that support learning, engage students, and convey content (Competency 2.1) is enhanced when we add visual design elements to reinforce learning. Good visual/graphic learning objects can help differentiate for visual learners. They can also help simplify information for those who need extra help organizing classroom content in their minds, and can help provide clarity of content for all students (Competency 2.2).

Additional Resources

Canva is just one of many great tools for creating visual content for students. Beyond Canva, you might want to check out Smore, Infogram, and Easelly.

Your Challenge

Today’s challenge is to look at the options in a graphic design tool like Moovly and reflect on how you could use this resource to deliver content and support learning.  Share those reflections in the comments below and if you have another great tool for creating graphic/visual content please feel free to add it to your comments as well.   Commenting on others responses is a great way to share ideas and make educational connections, just remember that “active participation” is more than just an “attaboy” for someone else. Enjoy!

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  1. Canva will work great for bringing attention to different areas of the library in a professional and eye-catching way. And it is simple enough that my student workers will enjoy creating new signs for topical displays we have planned.

  2. I love Kelly’s idea, too! I think this tool would be a great way for students to get to know each other and have some fun with technology as well. I may try this next year.

  3. An outstanding tool for creating posters and flyers. I can imagine a variety of uses for students, especially as a product choice. Every two weeks my Advanced Speech students choose a TED Talk to view and critique. One of their critique options is to create a flyer advertising the speaker’s presentation. Most students can put together a adequate flyer using Microsoft Presentation, but Canva would give them many more options and would be more satisfying.

  4. What an awesome resource! This would be an amazing tool to use in order to create more interesting and engaging classroom posters, add life to my newsletters and other classroom mailings, and would be a great way to jazz up my online lessons for the iPads.

  5. Within the first 10 seconds of watching this video I knew the very first project that I will have my students incorporate CANVA. Students are given the task of promoting a social justice speaker who is going to present a lecture in Evansville. One of the tasks is to create a flyer for the event. Canva is perfect for creating professional grade material without the cost of hiring someone or the frustration with other more difficult publisher programs. In addition we use product choice as a way to offer differentiation to students. Many times students will elect to create something such as a flyer, menu, handout, etc. to presenter their understanding and mastery of concept or idea. The link to CANVA has all ready been added to our weebly page’s creativity tools. This is yet another great tool that I’m looking forward to working with and seeing how the students can take their work to the next level.

  6. I think I can use Canva for a circle graph project that I do with my students every year. I can give them the ability to use Canva to use as the background. I always tell my students that the graph and graphic must be eye-catching like something you would stop on by flipping through a magazine. We just started the project and I think I will let my students use Canva to make their finished project.

  7. I would like using Canva for about any project. Sharing it with other poeple is definitely a plus. You can use these pictures without any copyright violations! I like the idea of saving them on the website, so you know where they are when you need them. It seems so simple, almost any grade for K-8 can use them. I will introduce this site to all of our teachers and staff!

  8. I like Kelly’s idea of having students introduce themselves to the class using this. I think it would also be fun to have students create a Canva about the school or class for new students. I have students create an anti cyber bully poster and will be including Canva as an option to use for creating this poster. I think you could also have students create a book cover for a book they have read to encourage others to read their book.

  9. I used Canva the first week of school to have the students introduce themselves. They created a poster that advertised themselves. It was easy to use and the final products looked very professional. I used to to create posters that advertised my elective courses. We have a poster printer in the school, so I had the media specialist print the posters and laminate them. After you posted this, I logged in and created a flyer advertising one of my courses that is now going to be offering MOS certification. The final product looked great! I can see using this as a way to have students take knowledge learned and put it together in visual way. They could embed these on their blogs or the class put post them all to a padlet wall so all of the students could see all of the posters created.

    • Kelly, I like the idea of having students introduce themselves to he class using this. What grade level did you use this for? I teach K-6 and would like to do this next year.

  10. I really like the simplicity of Canva. I think it could be quite useful as a quick tool to create some nice looking graphics for a presentation or assignment. I think this could also be a simple tool for students to use to create some great looking projects. I will probably use it to promote a call out for a new club we ares tarting next school year. I have used a variety of graphics programs over the years, the Adobe Creative Suite has been my go to, and probably will continue to be, but for something quick or if i am working on a different computer, this will be a great tool to add to my arsenal.

  11. I think Canva would be good at the beginning of the year when I introduce myself. I also am thinking of taking a photo of our Hoop Shoot winners tomorrow and using Canva to dress things up a bit to send to our principal to put on our school Facebook page. I am anxious to find time to explore Canva as this is the first time I have even heard of it.

  12. I have several things that come to mind for Canva. First, fundraiser flyers that are catchy and quick to the point. Second, open house handout. Third, I do something I call a SPlash in class for review for finals/ECA and you could make it on Canva to hand out for review after it was being made as a class activity. There are so many ideas floating in my already busy brain. Great find!

  13. I really like Canva. I had never heard of it before, but created an account to see how I could use it. I think that this is a really good option when trying to not use copyrighted materials. I love how simple it is to use and the “Beginner’s Challenge”. It’s a great way to get started that isn’t overwhelming. I like that the “premium” items are clearly marked. I agree with the above article that this is definitely a website that offers plenty without having to purchase anything. I especially liked that it has a ton of layouts that can be used just for Facebook and Twitter profile pictures (and Facebook cover photos). I do wish that they had an advanced search option that would let you filter your results if you just wanted to see the free images or clipart versus photos. After further practice, I truly hope to use this in my classroom.

    • I agree with you about the advanced search, but I suspect that is part of their strategy to sell non-free resources. One of my favorite features is that I can bring in images that I make myself in another tool or free-to-use licensed images that I find somewhere else on the Internet.

  14. My yearbook class has a marketing team, and I’m showing them this website next class. We create tons of fliers each year to advertise sales and deadlines. We’ve had some exceptional artists who create hand-drawn posters, but something like Canva would be much more efficient and professional. Our printing bill would be well worth the return from increased sales.

  15. I absolutely love the idea of creating business cards to introduce yourself to your class! My teachers are always looking for fun, creative, and professional ways to introduce themselves to their students. Also, this is an awesome opportunity for the teacher to model creativity and expose students to skills that they will need outside of school. I also like the idea of having templates ready for students and teachers to use to give them a jumpstart on designing their image or project.

  16. My immediate thought on using Canva is to create a ‘board’ to land information regarding student unit/lesson plan. I could include written information as well as links to online resources and tools for their demonstrationg of mastery learned in the topic. It appears to be very adaptable to many uses with just a few clicks. I am going to attempt to create my lesson board tonight. :)

  17. First thing coming to mind as I looked into this and watching the demo video was publicizing events and causes classes and clubs are doing in school. I’ve helped kids use power point to make flyers with pictures and layered clip art and text and have dabble with photoshop but this being web based with eye catching and professional looking text and layering. We have a benefit staff dodgeball game coming up which I will be exploring this some more to create our flyers and announcements. Thanks!

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