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Pros: Tons of free templates plus great guidance can help anyone design beautiful images and infographics.
Cons: It can be easy to confuse "layouts" and "designs" and lose work in the process, and more skilled designers might feel limited by this scaffolded approach.
Bottom Line: With stable internet access and enough time to get started, this is a flexible, accessible way to create beautiful designs in your classroom.
For your students, use Canva as your go-to creation tool for class projects. Consider having students use the poster and presentation templates to create their own attractive, original art to enhance their in-class presentations. For your own purposes, use these design tools to bring extra verve and pizzazz to your course documents, class website, or social media presence. There are great graph templates built in, too, which could be solid tools to help math and science classes display data; plus, students could use chart templates like the Venn diagram tool to help illustrate what they've learned in class. Check out Canva's Design School for more inspiration.
One word of caution on the social media front: This tool has great templates built in for social media posts (like templates sized for Instagram stories and Facebook events), and it's super easy to use the tool to connect via social media. Keep that in mind and make sure you outline expectations before you dive in with your students.
Canva is a graphic design tool for the web, Android, iOS, and Chrome. Users create an account (with an email address or by linking their Google or Facebook account) and then follow a tutorial that shows them how to get started and how to use the tool's many features. Users can upload their own images and create their own layouts or choose from a selection of thousands of built-in images and design templates (some of which are available for in-app purchase). Features abound: You can adjust brightness and contrast, resize images, overlay images with text and colors, and more. Once users have finished creating, their designs are automatically saved to the cloud and are accessible from the user's homepage in the app or on the website. Users can then export their creations via email, as Facebook posts, or via Twitter, and they can download their images in JPEG, PNG, or PDF format. You'll need a stable internet connection to use Canva successfully.
Canva for Education is the best bet for classrooms, especially those with students under 13. It offers a safer and more controlled environment and integrates with Google Classroom rostering, Clever, and Google sign-on. This version is available for teachers for free after they register with their email address. Teachers can then add students to their classrooms, create assignments, receive assignments, and review and approve work. The education site features blog posts from teachers and students, special tutorials and templates geared toward teachers, plus ideas for using Canva in the classroom.
The opening tutorial, which claims it'll teach you design in 23 seconds, is a winning intro to Canva. While tutorials are often skippable, make sure to see this one through: There are tons of details to know to use this tool, and it's easy to get overwhelmed with the number of features and all of their possibilities. It's also important for students to understand how saving works and the difference between "layouts" and "designs." Without this valuable information, it can be easy to get going on a design only to lose that work. However, once this info sticks, Canva's structure can be handy, allowing students and teachers to create designs they can reuse and revise.
Canva is especially great for novices who want to create eye-catching graphics to print or post online but don't have much (or any!) graphic design experience. Meanwhile, advanced users might look elsewhere. Canva doesn't have as many tools or as much flexibility as Photoshop or Illustrator, and users won't get in-depth instruction about principles of what makes good design. Also, while the Canva for Education portal positions Canva as a tool for project-based learning (PBL), this is a bit of an exaggeration. It's a cool tool for creating infographics and other illustrations for presentations and stories, but there's a lot more to PBL than a good-looking poster. This is definitely graphic design with very stylish training wheels, which might be all you need. It's a great way to make something that looks good fast, and it seems like the perfect tool for adding captions to images for simple sharing via social media. The flexible features for creation and for export make this an excellent tool for helping even the most novice designer create and share slick, simple graphic design.