I sat in an eighth-grade math teacher’s classroom, working on problems she shared with her students using Mathspace. I do not usually enjoy multi-step math problems but found myself delighted and completely engaged. Reflecting on it later, I realized a significant part of the experience was Mathspace’s sleek, modern design. I like Google Classroom more than LMSs in part because of its beautiful design but it took my Mathspace experience to realize an important rule when creating digital learning experiences for students:
If we want students to engage in digital lessons, we owe it to them to make learning materials visually appealing. Personally, I enhance imagery to make Google Sites, digital breakouts, and YouTube thumbnails that look good and hook students. Canva is a great tool for teachers and students to create imagery that adds beauty to their creations.
Making an image in Canva is easy. Users can create images with template dimensions such as Facebook and Twitter posts, and, my favorite, YouTube thumbnails. Additionally, users can set custom dimensions such as 800 x 200 (Google Classroom images) and 767 x 280 (Google Sites banner images):
The Wikimedia Commons is a great source for copyright-friendly images to jazz up a lesson. Here is how to easily upload them into the Canva editor:
Canva lets teachers make images more dramatic or cheerful with Instagram-like filters:
A great tool to use in conjunction with Canva is the Colorzilla Google Chrome extension. It allows users to grab any color they see in an image and use it to make more elements. Additionally, Canva’s transparency tool is another way for amateurs to become instant graphic artists:
Canva is a great tool for students to use their creativity. My colleague Cristie Watson had students create six-word memoirs in Canva which inspired me to make my own:
There two small drawbacks. I use the free version of Canva so I cannot make images with transparent backgrounds. That is why I made this site’s favicon in Google Drawings. Additionally, images can only be cropped into rectangles, unlike Google Drawings which allows users to crop with different shapes. These drawbacks make Google Drawings a better tool for making digital badges.
We want our students engaging in the 4Cs in our classrooms. That engagement becomes inevitable when we engage in them ourselves. Canva is a great tool for tapping your inner creativity and drawing it out of students too.
Author’s Note: I have not been compensated for writing this. I have not collaborated with Canva. They were unaware I that I worked on this post.