[semester equivalent = 3.33 credits]



Michael Boll



Never thought of yourself as someone who can make beautiful graphs, presentations, videos, charts, infographics, or posters?

Think again; Canva makes designing all these visuals (and more) a breeze.   Course participants start with setting up and applying for the free (yes, free!) pro-teacher account and then plunge into templates, elements, design choices, branding, video, student use, and much more. Participants are encouraged to build designs they can immediately use in their classroom, keeping the learning practical and useful.

Join Michael Boll, your instructor, as he guides your journey with helpful video screencasts and insights along the way, and take a step into the Canva world and emerge as a stellar designer loaded with ideas on how best to communicate visually.

This course is appropriate for all educators from Pre-K to High School and beyond.

Learn more about this course, including some QuickTips, by visiting

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Setup and become comfortable designing in the outrageously remarkable Canva environment and workspace

  2. Leverage Canva's power to build design-oriented lessons for students

  3. Develop your own look, feel, and brand that compliments your design preferences

  4. Explore the current and future trends of visual literacy and design

  5. Build a bundle of new visuals for immediate use in your in-person and digital classroom

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



None. All reading is online.


There should be zero frees for the Canva Pro account as long as you work at an educational institution. Canva always has a free version but with fewer features.



Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: Let’s Get to Know Each Other


Getting to know each other a little better is a nice way to start off this course. It helps us all to understand our individual situations and teaching expectations.

I will introduce myself below and explain a little more about the course.


Take a few moments and kindly complete a 250+ word description about you.
Possible items to include:

  • Where and what do you teach?
  • What are you hoping to gain from this course?
  • Any other personal details of interest that would be nice to share.

Note: All group participants are required to view the above video.

Assignment #2: Getting Started

View lesson #2 video below:


We, humans, are visually driven much more than we are text-driven. This is especially true of our students and other non-teachers who have not dedicated their lives to communicating via the written word. In life and while looking at print or screens, our eyes quickly gravitate toward visual elements. For example, if you head to  Clubmed’s website, your eyes normally first go straight to the images, then on to the text if needed. The word on the street is that we process visual images 60,0000 times faster than text. It likely varies for teachers, but you get the point. makes creating graphics super easy and fun. Gone are the awful days of using complex programs like Photoshop.

In this lesson, we will ensure we have a account and set up and apply for the free educator pro license.


  1. Run over to and set up a free account. You may use a Google login if you like; something super helpful if you plan to have students create accounts.

  2. Get yourself a free pro teacher account.

  3. Play around with the tools. We will go over it more in the next lesson.

  4. In a short response, explain what your first impressions are of Canva and what areas you are drawn to. What do you want to try first? For me, it was infographics and YouTube thumbnails!


Note: All group participants are required to view the above videos.

Assignment #3: Using the Canva Dashboard

View lesson #3 video below.


The Canva dashboard is one of the most powerful dashboards on the planet! While that is likely an exaggeration, it is not far from the truth. It is hard to see just how powerful it is as many of the tools lie behind the surface. As a design company, Canva made sure to have a dashboard that is easy to use and understand. Good on them!


  1. Watch the video(s) below for an introduction to Canva.

  2. Jump in and build something of your choice. Totally up to you.
    (But, if you want some ideas, check out this list of Canva use cases.}

  3. Write a short reflection on the experience and what you decided to make. 

    1. What did you learn?

    2. How easy/difficult was it to make?

    3. Include a link (see how to share here) of your design.


Note: All group participants are required to view the above videos.

Assignment #4: Tempting Templates

View lesson #4 video below.


The templates take the average person (like me and maybe you) and make them look “Canva Cool”. The quality of the templates are first rate and easy to modify. 

When I make a new design, I usually work through multiple templates until I decide on a look that is just right, then make the modifications from there.


  1. Create a new design. I suggest starting with something easy like a square Instagram post. Even if you don’t use Instagram, this square graphic is useful for all kinds of things. This keeps it easy. However, if you prefer to design something you can use right now, go for it.
    (If you want some other ideas, check out this list of Canva use cases.)

  2. Using the templates feature, design at least six different versions of your work. This gives you the chance to really explore the different templates.  You don’t have to go deep into each sample; just a rough version is fine.

  3. In a short written response, reflect on the experience. 

    1. What sort of templates are you drawn to? 

    2. Do you like a busy, medium, or clean look?  

    3. What about colors? Thinking about a color palette yet?

  4. Include a link to your designs.
    See how to share here


General List of Resources For All Lessons
Note: All group participants are required to view the above videos.

Assignment #5: Dive deeper into Elements, Text, and Layers

View lesson #5 video below.


While it is hard to say what the best part of Canva is (there are so many best parts!), surely the amount of elements (images, pictures, videos, audio, etc.) available is at the top of the list. This is especially true if you have a paid pro account or the free teacher pro account


  1. Create a new design

    ​​Suggested project: Build a presentation. The presentation templates are loaded with ideas, and a presentation slide can actually be used for a lot more than just a presentation.
    Or another design you prefer and is helpful to you.
  2. Add multiple pages so you can explore and not be too overwhelmed.

  3. Select the Elements tab and start adding items. 

  4. Be sure to include:
  • Graphics
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Audio
  • Stickers
  • Photos
  • ​Frames

   5.  Work with some of the more advanced features found in the edit section of each graphic (see my video
       (Text, front to back, etc.)

  6.   Work with the layers options (See video)

  7.   Write a short reflection on what aspects of all those elements spoke to you. 

  • What will you likely use the most?
  • Please include a link to your design

See how to share here


General List of Resources For All Lessons
Note: All group participants are required to view the above videos.

Assignment #6: Using Canva With Students

View lesson #6 video below.


Bringing Canva into the classroom is a huge bonus to students. It creates fantastic opportunities to teach the skills of visual communication and the importance of design. 

Canva also makes it easy with Google, Office, and other sign-in options (if that works at your school). This makes it possible to scale the use of Canva to large groups of students without the insanity of password management issues.

Lastly, similar to an LMS such as Google Classroom, you can create your own individual classrooms and team up with your students to design fantabulous things.


  1. Browse the resources below for student uses of Canva

  2. In a short response, provide your thoughts about the use of Canva in the classroom.

    ​Suggested topics:

  • What are some of the pitfalls or downsides to using Canva?
  • What lesson ideas might work for your classroom and why?


  1. Browse some of the resources with suggestions on how to use Canva with students

  2. Enjoy a bunch of great tutorials that show students how to use Canva 

  3. Explanation of how to invite students to your class. Note: you must be using the teacher version

  4. View the video below: Create & invite a class.

General List of Resources For All Lessons

Note: All group participants are required to view the above videos.

Assignment #7: Audio and Video

View lesson #7 video below


Canva has some strong audio and video capabilities. For example, you can mix music, edit videos, send messages, build screencasts, and more. While various other stand-alone apps provide more capability, Canva has it all in one place and may meet your needs.


Create a new video design

  1. Suggested project: A happy birthday message to a real or fictional student. (See tutorial below)
    Or another video design you prefer and is helpful to you

  2. Provide a short, written reflection of the experience

  • Include a link to your project. See how to share here
  • How easy or hard is the learning curve?
  • In what ways might video and audio help you in the classroom?
  • Is the cost/benefit on your side? In other words, is the cost of the time it takes to make a video worth the benefits?


General List of Resources For All Lessons
Note: All group participants are required to view the above videos.

Assignment #8: Fonts, Color Choices and the Brand Kit

View lesson #8 video below.


This lesson assumes that by now you have grabbed the free educator Canva pro version and can take advantage of the branding features.  

Good design standards push us to be consistent in how our work looks. While we have the freedom to innovate along the way, your viewers (students, parents, colleagues, etc.) appreciate a consistent color scheme and font choice. This helps the viewer better understand what you are communicating and the rules that surround the ways you communicate. 

Using the Brand Kit allows you to develop a defined suite of fonts and colors that fit your preferred look. At first, depending on your experience in graphic design, picking the color or fonts that you like may take some time. I mean there is just so much to explore!


  1. Open the Brand Kit

    1. If you are a PPS employee, they blocked this feature for you. #Irritating.  Please go ahead and pick a set of colors using a site such as instead.

  2. Create a new Brand Kit

  3. Decide on some colors and add them to your “Brand Colors”
    ​(See the resources below for help with colors.)

  4. In the “Brand Fonts” section, add a font for each heading style

  • You may only want to pick one or two different fonts 
  • See the resources below for help with font choice.

   5.  Provide a short, written reflection of the experience

  • What colors did you pick? ( A screenshot would be nice)

  • What fonts did you pick?

  • Why did you pick your colors? For example, what emotion do you want them to convey? 

  • Why did you pick the fonts you did? What do they communicate?


Color choices



General List of Resources For All Lessons
Note: All group participants are required to view the above videos.

Assignment #9: Organizing Your Work and Discovering Apps


Canva has a helpful organization system much like the ones you may be familiar with in Google Drive or Office 365. While you may not feel compelled to use it in the beginning, after a while you may be clambering for some organization. 

Canva developed a bunch of great relationships with app developers and they are there for you to use. Each one might require its own, independent account from a company outside of Canva. For example, a Google Drive account.


  1. Think about how you want to organize your work and what folders will support that effort.
    Add a few folders as needed and move your current work to the appropriate location(s)

  2. Explore the “Discover Apps” section and add one or more apps to your Canva setup

    1. Try one or more of them out in an existing design or a new design.

  3. Provide a short, written reflection on the experience

  • How will organization in Canva help you in the future?
  • Which apps did you explore and what compelled you to choose them?
  • Share a copy of your designs. See how to share here


General List of Resources For All Lessons
Note: All group participants are required to view the above videos.

Assignment #10: Unleashing Canva’s Artificial Intelligence “Magic”


Canva was quick to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) into its platform. Typical Canva moves as they seem to always be looking for an opportunity to innovate.

Instead of calling it AI, they use the word “Magic.” Not as cool as AI in my opinion, but does it matter what I think here? ;-)

This lesson focuses on the powers of Magic in Canva and gives you a chance to try it out and see if fits into your design world.


  1. If you are new to AI, or would like some more general information by AI, feel free to check out my THI course Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into your Classroom: A Hands-On Guide

    1. Click the syllabus button to see all the resources for the class for free

    2. Also, most of the help videos for that course are here.

  2. Explore all the Canva Magic on offer here. They keep adding things, but the current focus is on:

    1. Creating content with images based on your prompts

    2. Switching your content from one type of design to another. Say you want to convert your written lesson to a slide deck. 

    3. Text to video or image. Take your written requests and watch it make videos or images. 

    4. Image conversion. 

      1.  Expand your Instagram image to a full document size

      2. Remove backgrounds

      3. Change outfits on a person in the photo

      4. Remove people or items in a photo

      5. Create an animation

      6. Morph an image into another image

  3. Click on three or more of the “Try…” buttons and give it a run. They have a nice demo for each feature.

  4. In 250 words or more, let me know what you tried, how it went, and if you think it is something you can use in your own teaching world. Add a Canva link to the one you found the most interesting. 


Canva educator guide on Magic



In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #11: Assemble Visual Designs for your Physical and/or Digital Environment


Ok, time to get to work! Use Canva to help you with your own specific needs in and out of the classroom or digital/virtual world. This is a great chance to try various ideas and see how well they work.


  1. Design at least five different graphics to support your work
    (See some suggestions here and also on the tips part of my CanvaTeacherTips website.)

  2. Share your work with other colleagues, staff, administrators, students, etc., for feedback. I know I always learn something when I share my work. 

  3. In 750 words or more reflect on the experience.

  • What is/was your overall understanding or skills with graphic design prior to this course?
  • What types of graphics were you planning to design at the beginning of the course, and what are you building now? Any change in what you see as a possibility now?
  • What graphics did you design and why?  How will they help you communicate visually?  Please share links to your work.  See how to share here.

General List of Resources For All Lessons

Assignment #12: The Power of Visual Literacy in our Modern World


Our students are super, super awesome consumers of visual information. They can turn on their devices and flip through a zillion images, play a few games, and watch a bunch of short videos.  
But, can they create, produce and critically analyze visuals? Maybe, maybe not. That is where this lesson comes into play. How can we make our visual consumers into visual producers and critical analysts?


  1. Watch and read a variety of resources on visual literacy. I have a bunch here, but feel free to find your own additional resources as well.

  2. In 750 words articulate your view(s) on visual literacy in general and specifically its impact on students.

  3. Suggested areas to cover:

  • What is your definition of visual literacy?
  • How conversant are students and adults in visual literacy today?
  • How are visuals (including film) used to communicate in our world today? For example, are advertisers using them? Teachers?  Other groups or individuals?
  • Should schools focus more on visual literacy?  Why or why not?
  • Should schools emphasize visual communication and how to create visuals in their curriculum?


General List of Resources For All Lessons

Assignment #13: (500 Level ONLY) Applying Your Learning to Professional Development or Student Use


This assignment lets you apply what you have learned so far in the course to your current teaching situation. 

Complete one of the following:

Create a 30-minute or longer presentation to be given at a professional development workshop. Be sure to use Canva to build this presentation.

It should relate to the themes discussed in this course such as:

  • The impact of visual images and video versus only text
  • The impact of good design to control how visuals communicate and where the eye looks 
  • Canva as a tool in the classroom
  • Canva templates as a starting point for ideas
  • Choosing the right elements (visuals) to enhance media such as newsletters, videos, etc.
  • Use of a brand kit or identity to help with communicating in a consistent manner
  • Student use of Canva and visual literacy


Take a very deep dive into design and the use of Canva for students and develop a variety of lesson ideas for students. Make sure to design something useful to you and your teaching situation.

A Few Sample Ideas:

  • Advertisements for a real or imaginary product
  • Newsletters
  • Anchor charts
  • Badges
  • Book covers of an existing book (design their own version) or a writing piece of their own
  • Certificates
  • Storyboarding
  • Brochures
  • Magazines
  • Greeting cards


  • Additional bookmarked resources
  • Video tutorials from Canva to help students use Canva


Assignment #14: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Michael Boll is an Apple Distinguished Educator and former Technology Coach at international schools in China and Thailand.

Now based in the United States, Michael is an enthusiastic instructional designer and presenter. He works to make his courses and presentations information-packed, slightly provocative, and fun. 

Michael has an adult son with profound autism and is keenly interested in the special needs community and its population of diverse learners.



“13 Ways to Use Canva in Your Classroom – Ask a Tech Teacher.” Ask a Tech Teacher, 28 Feb. 2017,

Agtarap, Kevin. “How to Incorporate Visual Literacy in Pre-K and Elementary School Instruction | Edutopia.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 15 Nov. 2021,

Contributors to Wikimedia projects. “Visual Literacy - Wikipedia.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 26 Feb. 2005,

Finley, Todd. “Common Core in Action: 10 Visual Literacy Strategies | Edutopia.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 19 Feb. 2014,

Hooker, David. “David Hooker: The Importance of Visual Literacy | TED Talk.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, 1 Feb. 2018,

Lynch, Matthew. “Teach Your Students Visual Literacy - The Edvocate.” The Edvocate, The Edvocate, 26 Feb. 2019,

“What Are the 13 Types of Literacy? - The Edvocate.” The Edvocate, The Edvocate, 29 Jan. 2019,

Mercier, Tracy. “5 Ways for Students to Use Canva Today : Vr2ltch.” Vr2ltch,, 20 Aug. 2020,

The Merrills. “10 Ways for Teachers to Use Canva — @TheMerrillsEDU.” @TheMerrillsEDU, @TheMerrillsEDU, 10 Jan. 2022,

“Visual Literacy in Education.” Jolly’s Class, Jolly’s Class, 5 May 2022,

“What Is Visual Literacy? – Visual Literacy Today.” Visual Literacy Today – An Online Magazine for Visual Literacy and Visual Learning, Accessed 5 Sept. 2022.

Wiebusch, Fiona. “5 Ways to Use Canva in the Language Classroom — The Queensland Institute Pty Ltd.” The Queensland Institute Pty Ltd, The Queensland Institute Pty Ltd, 8 Mar. 2022,