What is it?
Canva is an online graphic design tool. You can customize and make items like infographics, newsletters, banners, or images. It also can be used for photo editing, and is particularly useful in making eye-catching graphs or charts. While I realize it is not as specifically geared towards “education” as some of the tools I’ve looked at, it still has many applications in the virtual and in-person classroom (see this link: Canva for Education).
How does it work?
Canva is very easy to use! You sign up for a free account with your email address and a password. Canva has paid accounts available that let you access more features, but you can still do quite a lot with a free account. Once you have your free account, you can choose from a variety of available templates and customize with your own text, images, etc. While some templates/images/designs cost a dollar or two, I have always found what I needed solely in the free items. I’ve used Canva frequently for my coursework, so if you want to see some of the things you can do with Canva, check out some of my previous blog posts:
- Canva used for image/quotes in this post
- Canva used for a flowchart in this post
- Canva used for an infographic in this post and this post
Strengths, Limitations and Applications
I know “making a course pretty” is not usually an instructor’s top priority. However, I would argue that visual design should be considered a key component of course design. We are more likely to want to spend time in a space (virtual or otherwise) when it is visually pleasant and interesting. When instructors take care with their design elements (like those you can create with Canva), it demonstrates to students that you are invested in the course and in their experience of the course.
So how could Canva be applied in a course? Instead of creating a fact sheet with basic text, consider an infographic. Instead of creating a syllabus with a simple text heading, consider creating a banner. Especially in the context of online education, students’ first impressions of the course will be formed based on your visual design. No matter what you choose to create, Canva offers an easy way to introduce professional-looking design elements into your course.