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Canva for education – really simple design tools

For Canva’s Chief Product Officer, Cameron Adams, developing Canva for Education has been a “big learning experience”, but this new venture from the global tech unicorn has been guided by teachers and students from Day One.

Officially launched at BETT 2020, Canva for Education gives students and teachers of all ages access to really simple design tools that enable anyone to complete a school project, spread a message or simply communicate their ideas. The product is based on the core Canva proposition, which is currently used in 190 countries by over 20 million users, at least 20% of whom are students and teachers. 

Following a constant flow of feedback, tweets and emails from education users about the tool, Cameron’s team started looking at developing a specific education product in early 2019. Their objective was simple – to understand how students and teachers worldwide were using Canva and how the core product could be improved to best support teaching and learning.

Feedback from teachers quickly identified key ways Canva could bring the power of their paid-for product into a free version for the classroom. Detailed teacher user cases and global teacher insight illustrated the need for a collaborative online classroom, where learners could share their work with each other and their educators, generating feedback and ultimately enabling online assessment. Practitioners also highlighted the importance of integration with key classroom technologies as vital to ensure widespread adoption. As a result, Canva for Education developed an integration with Google for Education and further partnership with LMS and other tech partners are planned.

The Canva team followed the same approach for developing the education product as they typically deploy for any other sectors – LAUNCH, LISTEN and (constantly) ADAPT. In seeking to understand how to develop the best possible product, they’ve employed the widest variety of techniques to validate their ideas. This includes simply visiting classrooms and chatting to teachers; using social media and online channels to test understanding, gather feedback and to support user engagement as well creating mockups, wireframes and prototypes to discover what really resonates with educators.

As Cameron readily acknowledged, Canva quickly identified that what resonated with educators and “the only way to get teachers to use it (Canva for Education) is for them to see other teachers using it.” This insight led to the development of a dedicated teacher community and numerous case studies demonstrating the product in use. Practitioner feedback is also clearly evident here as the case studies deliberately focus “not on the software tools, but on how Canva offers a new way for teachers to engage their classes and to think about education.” Forthcoming improvements to the tool’s onboarding experience are also the result of extensive quantitative and qualitative user feedback.

Canva are “bullish” about their ambitions for Canva for Education and are already recruiting a US team to support schools and schools districts to get the most of the product and keep product/user feedback flowing back to their Sydney HQ. Plans are also being developed to formally evaluate the tool’s impact on developing students’ key 21st century skills such as creative thinking as well as on improving their overall academic outcomes.