Beautiful, well-designed graphics can help to make information engaging and meaningful. Canva.com is an online program that can easily be learned in less than fifteen minutes.
When you create an account and login to the site, you have the option to create for social media, posters, presentations, blog graphics, Facebook covers, documents and cards.
To create the image above, I used the “blog graphic” option. Below is the same screen I was brought to but for a “presentation” instead.
From there, users can use the side menu to choose elements for the design. Any element a user wants to use can be dragged and dropped into the workspace. In addition, to the right of the workspace, pages can be added, deleted or copied to the same file.
Here is a list of functions and a short description of each:
- Layouts- Layouts set up a background and slots for text, images, and graphics. These can be deleted as needed, however. In the picture above, I had chosen a “layout” displayed on the right.
- Text- In Text, there is an option for Headline, Sub-Headline, and Body text. In addition, there are various designed graphics with text boxes in them. The fonts color, size, and style can be changed in the menu that appears when you drag and drop the element on your page.
- Backgrounds- Backgrounds are colors or images that appear behind the other graphic elements
- Uploads- These are images you upload yourself. The program can choose from your computer files (or from Facebook photos of you give it permission). If you have chosen a layout with photo boxes, then you can drag and drop your pictures into them and crop the photo to fit best once it is placed.
When users are finished with the design, they select “link and print” in the top right of the screen. From there, a pop up window will ask if the file should be saved as an “image” or a “PDF.”
Although the program suggests saving as a PDF to print, I was not able to get this function to work. Instead, I saved as an “Image” and it printed right away. As an image, you can choose “fit to page” for the image to fill more of the space available or keep it set as the default with no changes. Either were fine for me, but it might just be whatever fits best for your design.
I can imagine this tool being used by teachers to create posters, presentations, or graphics for a class website. However, I think the most valuable way to use this tool would be for students. Speaking and listening standards ask students to “integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media formats, evaluating the accuracy and credibility of each source.” To this end, I think exploring and discussing infographics and other visual sources that integrate text before using this program would be valuable.
The standards also ask that students “make use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual and interactive elements) in presentations.” After students have explored others use of graphic elements to present information, then they could use this tool to plan their own presentations.
These strategies will meet standards, but will also help students to increase their visual literacy, or ability to interact with and interpret visual information. In the digital age, this skill is necessary to navigating a breadth and depth of information that has never before been available. More and more, designers, business leaders, journalists and others are relying on graphic representations to relay information quickly and easily.