Canva Makes Your iPads Even MORE Useful

One of my biggest beefs with schools that spend thousands of dollars pushing iPads into classrooms has been the fact that the iPad has never REALLY been a great creation tool.  Instead, iPads often end up doing nothing more than reinforcing the kinds of passive consumption behaviors — watching videos, reading text, searching the Web — that I think we ought to be pushing OUT of our classrooms.

That’s why Canva’s new iPad app has caught my attention.

Designed to extend Canva’s remarkable desktop design functionality (see here and here) to mobile devices, this app has the potential to turn classroom iPads into tools for teaching students how to create stunning visuals.

Check out this video introduction:



The simple truth is that learning to create remarkable images is an essential skill in a world where we are surrounded by visual messages.

While being persuasive will always depend on written text — think about the the fact that I am trying to change your thinking every time I sit behind my keyboard to blog — being persuasive in a skim-first, read-later world ALSO depends on the ability to craft content that captures the eyes of viewers.

Canva remains the most approachable tool for helping kids to design extraordinary visuals.  If their new app makes it possible to do so on the iPads sitting in our classrooms, they will have hit an #edtech home run.

In the next few weeks, I’ll have some of my students experiment with the app.  I’ll share what they create here.



Related Radical Reads:

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Five Tips for Creating Slides that WON’T Bore Your Audience

Using Canva to Teach Visual Influence


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  • Tom Donovan

    School-UNfriendly Terms of Service


    It frustrates me that apps/services like Canva that are rich with uses for our students, seldom have Terms of Service that are school- and student-friendly.  In Canva’s case

    “Any use or access to the Service by anyone under 13 is strictly prohibited and in violation of this Agreement.”  

    Because one can’t use the app without creating a Canva account, for those of us in K-8, that means that only 7th graders (at some point during their 7th grade year) and 8th graders are able to use the app legally.  Even a scenario where a teacher creates an account and logs in the classroom iPads violates the letter of the ToS:  “You may not allow any other party to access or use the Service with your unique username, password, or other security code.”

    In my district, we try very hard to avoid encouraging or even tacitly endorsing student use of an on-line service in violation of that service’s ToS, while at the same time being as open as possible to powerful new tools.  As the district’s technology director, it’s not always an easy line to walk.

    The age 13 thing is one factor, but Canva has something else in its ToS that concerns me as well.  In this day and age when we want students to be creators and, through creation and sharing, to learn about and gain a true respect for the concept of intellectual property, it’s tough to see language like this:

    …grant to Canva a royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, list information regarding, edit, translate, distribute, syndicate, publicly perform, publicly display, and make derivative works of all such User Content and your name, voice, and/or likeness as contained in your User Content, in whole or in part, and in any form, media or technology, whether now known or hereafter developed, …

    So much for students controlling their own work.  Sigh…


  • Dan Callahan



    As somebody who worked the previous four years to do lots of creative things with iPads in the classroom, it pains me to hear you say the iPad has never really been a great creation tool. Does Canva extend the effectiveness of the iPad’s Creative tools? Absolutely. Was the iPad lacking in creative tools before this? Absolutely not.

    My students in a 1:1 iPad program were CONSTANTLY creating. There’s no faster, easier way to make movies than iMovie on the iPad. It’s a phenomenal tool to document your work because of the built in cameras. Explain Everything is an incredibly robust screencasting tool. Students quickly and easily create their own music and recordings in Garageband. Making cartoons? Never easier than with Toontastic. Artwork? Tons of great apps. Need to type something? Pages or Google Docs will do you just fine. Many of these apps work together so kids can get creative in really unique ways.


  • JustinMinkel

    Amen, Bill.

    I keep seeing that the teachers whose use of technology is most frequent, innovative, and skillful, also offer the most impassioned excoriations of its misue, as you do in your opener here. I’ve seen the same tendency with various tech tools introduced en masse–too much focus on the tool, too little focus on what’s happening in kids’ brains as they actually use it.

    I’m still staggered by the lack of attention to visual literacy in most schools, given the constant flood of images that kids experience through video games, movies, TV, commercials, and so on. On this trip last month to Shenzhen, China, a high school student showed me a beautiful, visually arresting poster she had designed to promote a project she was doing with students in Kenya. In her case, she was interested in becoming a graphic designers, but even for students with other ambitious, the ability you describe to create compelling images is becoming a central part of literacy, in the same way that poets need numeracy and engineers need to know how to read and write.

    Thanks for linking the big-picture purpose and potential of tech with specific tools/examples–these are powerful possibilities.