Five Fun Canva Features You Should Try

Last week I attended the ISTE Live conference in Philadelphia courtesy of Canva. During the week I shared some of my notes during the conference on One of those notes was about the impressive use of Canva by Lauren Enders who uses it as an AAC tool.

Seeing Lauren’s presentation and the demos by some of the people in the Canva booth (both teachers and non-teachers) inspired me to dig into some research about slide design in the context of education. I’m familiar with the guidance that folks like Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte give for making presentations look nice to an adult audience. What I was interested in was finding out if making a good-looking presentation makes a difference in a classroom setting.

It turns out that making good-looking slides does make a difference to students. A 2021 study (link opens a PDF) by LeFebvre, et. al. looked at the difference in way students process and information received from teleprompter style slides (text without images) and presentational slides (images with minimal text). The findings suggest that students process information more actively and analytically when viewing presentational slides versus teleprompter slides.

If you want to make better presentational slides as suggested by the results of the aforementioned study, here are five Canva features that can help you and your students do that.

Animate a Path

Canva has a bunch of standard choices for animating objects in your presentations. Those include typical “fly in,” “fly out,” and “spin” animations. There’s also an option to design your own animation path for an object to follow. You can use that option to do things like make an airplane fly in loops to loops on your slide. Watch this demo to see how to animate a path on a Canva slide.

Animate Your Handwriting

Earlier this year Canva added a freehand drawing tool. This demonstration video shows you how to use that tool. You can use the freehand drawing tool in conjunction with the path animation tool to animate your handwriting.

Video Background Remover

You can add a little talking head video to any of your Canva presentation slides. Simply upload a video recording of yourself and then insert it into your slide. If you want to have just your talking head and none of the things in the background of your video to appear, use Canva’s video background remover. Just one click is all it takes to remove the background from your video. This video that I recorded last fall shows you how the video background remover works.

AI Image Creation

If you’ve ever spent a while scrolling through pictures in search of the perfect one for your presentation only to settle for “good enough,” you need to try Canva’s text-to-image app. The text-to-image tool lets you type a description of the image you need, and a handful of choices will be created for you. Pick the one you like for your presentation. Watch this demo to see how Canva’s text-to-image tool works.

Maps and Slides Within Slides

You can add almost anything into a Canva slideshow. That includes functioning Google Maps, websites, videos, and even slideshows made with other tools like Google Slides. The best part is that students who view your Canva slides online can interact with any of those elements you add into your slideshow. A demo of using Google Maps inside of Canva slides can be seen here.

Add Alt Text to Your Slides

Okay, so this might not be a “cool” feature and it makes this list six items long, but it is an important accessibility feature to note. By right-clicking on any picture in your Canva slides you can add alt text to improve the accessibility of your slides for those who use screen readers.

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