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What Is Canva And How Does It Work For Education?

(Image credit: Canva)

Canva is a free-to-use online graphical tool that combines design, photo editing, and layout to help teachers and students create beautifully finished projects.

Canva can be used by teachers to generate posters, guidance, and projects, but it can also be accessed by students for tasks. Pupils can use a powerful tool that aids expression to make presentations that are clear and well-finished, and that can also be used for future reference.

Integration with Google Classroom makes this very easy to use for systems already working within that platform. 

So is Canva for you? Read on to find out everything you need to know.

What is Canva?

Canva is a graphic design tool that works to simplify the process. As such, an account can easily be created and everything works either via a web browser or on the iOS or Android apps. 

Canva allows for image editing and project-based learning using a simple drag-and-drop interface that works well even for younger students. From brainstorming as a group working collaboratively to individual project creation, it has lots of potential uses in the classroom.


(Image credit: Canva)

Canva is optimized for Chromebooks so even the more intensive image-based projects can be handled on most machines, with smooth interaction.

With more than 250,000 template available, starting and progressing through a topic is very easy, even for those new to the platform. Stock photos, videos, and graphics are also available, with hundreds of thousands of choices from which to pick. All those numbers go even higher if you pay, but more on that below.

How does Canva work?

Canva is easy to sign up for, using either an email, Google account, or Facebook login. Once an account is created, for free, you can pick if you're using it as a teacher, student, or anything else. This will tailor the experience to your needs, making it simpler to find what you're looking for.

Teaching how to use Canva can be the focus of a lesson that aims to broaden the digital skills available to students. But since this is so easy to use, it will likely take very little time. Letting the students play with the options is how the deeper learning and creativity can flourish.


(Image credit: Canva)

Canva offers plenty of virtual templates so students can work with a design and add in their own changes. This allows for students to focus on the topic at hand without wasting time or energy on getting started with the tool itself. 

Making a poster, for example, will start by offering templates down the left, then the main image on the right that you can customize. Clicking into this will make a toolbar appear with options to edit – this reacting as you work keeps things minimal and clear throughout.

You can upload your own images and videos, which is ideal when working on a smartphone using the app version. Once completed, you can download the file, share it via lots of social media optimized options, or send to a professional print service to have it printed.

What are the best Canva features?

Canva is crammed full of features but many are education specific. Before getting into that it's worth noting that Canva auto-saves. This is a great feature both for teachers and students as it means never worrying about losing work – something Google's ecosystem of tools has got many people used to.

While the templates are fantastic to make any presentation, poster, or image have more impact, there are powerful sub-tools. The graph templates, for example, are a great way to help in math and science classes – allowing for specific results to be displayed in a clear visual and engaging way. 

Canva for Education is a powerful feature of this tool as it allows teachers to setup a virtual classroom, invite students, and have them collaborate on a project. This could be used in the classroom or remotely, with the aid of a video chat tool as well. In fact, you can link Zoom and then present screen to share the slides with the class as you go.

Comment additions are helpful with @ options, allowing alerts to be sent to the teacher. This lets students enquire about their work as they go, so they can feel confident they're going the right way. A nice tool that's especially helpful in this creative space in which students are given a lot of freedom and can sometimes feel a little lost, especially when working remotely. 

Canva helpfully offers free online courses to help learn. There is a specific Canva for the Classroom course, which is a great way to help teachers learn the best ways to work with the tool.

How much does Canva cost?

Canva is free to use both personally and in a classroom. While that does offer a whole host of tools and features, there are more that can be accessed with a paid for Canva Pro or Enterprise account.

Canva Free gets you more than 250,000 templates, more than 100 design types, hundreds of thousands of photos and graphics, collaboration, and 5GB of cloud storage. 

Canva Pro is charged at $119.99 per year, which offers all the free features but has brand kit upload options, one-click Magic Resize for images, more than 420,000 templates, 75 million images, videos and graphics, design saving for team use, 100GB of cloud storage, and social media scheduling for seven platforms.

Canva Enterprise is $30 per person per month and offers all that Pro has plus more brand-focused tools that likely aren't useful in teaching. Want to know more? Check out the break-down here.

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.