Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why I Love Canva

(Note: This posting is cross-posted from the AASL Blog.)

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While these days we are blessed with a variety of excellent web-based graphics tools,, one of AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning for 2014, definitely stands out from the crowd. It has become my first choice stop when I need to create an original graphic, even with Photoshop Elements installed on my computer. You will want to use it yourself and also encourage your students and teacher colleague teachers to as well.

Here are some reasons why:

  • It’s free.
  • It is completely web-based and platform independent.
  • It is super easy to use.
  • It offers a huge collection of vibrant backgrounds, shapes, and graphics, and also allows you to upload your own.
  • Along with the free graphics, you can opt for a large collection of paid options, each of which is just $1.00.
  • It has 21 pre-sized templates - for example: presentations (1024px x 768px), Instagram (640px x 640px), and more -  but also allows you to create a custom-sized graphic. And for all graphics, you can design a single image, or multiple pages.
  • Created graphics can be shared directly to Twitter or Facebook, downloaded as pdfs or png files, or shared with either a read-only or even editable link. (The person receiving the link needs to open a Canva account to view and edit the image.) And, all your creations remain available for further editing on the Canva site.
  • The help information is extensive, and, in addition, Canva’s “Design School” includes  both lessons and interactive tutorials on principles of design you can use on your own and share with students. You can even subscribe to the tutorials and get weekly design lessons via email.

To get started using Canva, open a free account. Then, you can just dive in, start with one of the tutorials (such as this lesson, which can also serve as a class lesson), or check out this great screencast on Heather Moorefield-Lang’s TechFifteen YouTube channel recently made by Meg Coker.

A good activity for using Canva with your students might be for an assignment creating an infographic. Canva offers a ton of attractive images for infographics. Just use the Search box to search for “infographics” as a keyword. Look on the left of this screenshot to see some of the infographic symbols available:

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For some examples of infographics made with Canva, watch California School Library Association’s new film, “Does Your School Have a Teacher Librarian?” All the infographics were made by Karen Morgenstern, the film producer, using Canva. The title screen was also created with Canva:

You might also want to encourage students to create class slide presentations using Canva. While using this Canva, they can take advantage of the extensive built-in design elements and the design tutorial assistance to improve the visual quality of their presentations. Canva lacks the real time collaboration option of Google Slides/Presentations, but the link sharing feature will allow for asynchronous editing. Students could also create graphics in Canva and import them into Google Slides.

Just two caveats to remember when using Canva. First, it does require establishing a free account, and users must be 13 or older. And, second, If you pay for one or more $1 stock media items as part of one of your designs, you can only use that stock media in one of your Canva designs and you’re not allowed to later edit the PDFs or PNGs or give others permission to use them. I personally avoid using the paid media items for my educational creations, not because of the cost, which is so reasonable at $1 a piece, but because I can’t then assign the material containing the design a Creative Commons license to pass the rights to use it on to others.

And, some great news: Canva is now also an iPad app. Check out either the web-based version or the app today!

And more news .... Just since my posting was published on the AASL Blog yesterday, I learned that Canva now allows you to customize your profile, share your favorite designs with others, and follow friends' designs. Here's a video from Canva about it:

I'm working on my profile now. :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#SLJSummit 2014

In October, I had the great opportunity to attend School Library Journal's annual Leadership Summit in St. Paul, MN. I wrote a posting about this event in my school library blog, focusing specifically on some of the many tie-ins to Common Core. You can see that post at this link.

This posting is a more personal account, a Storify collection of my Twitter tweets, favorites, and RTs, that, these days, serve as my "notes" when I attend a conference. There were so many wonderful ideas, and I know these "notes" are often very shorthand. Please contact me to better explain any of them.

And here are some photos I took to help me remember a wonderful trip:

Created with flickr slideshow.

Monday, November 10, 2014

New CSLA Advocacy Film

I have been neglecting this blog of late. I have - based on motivation from Nikki Robertson, a true TL rock star, been working hard this school year to try to document all the activities in my library in my Mira Costa Library blog, so please do check out my recent postings in there. Still, I am sorry that I haven't been posting my more personal thoughts more regularly here. I do, tonight, have something BIG to share: it's that the California School Library Advocacy film, in the works for almost a year now, is now complete! If you are on social media, you already saw it this weekend, but I still want to be sure to document it here:

Please watch it and then share it far and wide! Our administrators, parents, teachers, students, politicians, and any other stakeholders all need to see it to help them understand why our students need us teacher librarians to teach them vital information literacy skills while also nurturing their personal passions and to integrate technology into the curriculum and provide professional development to our schools and districts. The film also provides statistics about the sad state of staffing in our California school libraries.

I feel proud to have been the one to initiate the effort to make this film while I was CSLA President and was inspired by the Washington Library Media Association film, but it was Karen Morgenstern, our incredibly talented and hard-working member and producer, who made it happen. She tapped James Gleason, our cameraman, TerryKhai Ngo, his assistant and editor, and Lilly Aycud and Marc Stuart, who provided the score.

As Karen wrote on the CALIBK12 listserv this morning, "I hope this film can help increase our numbers, our influence and our visibility, as well as be an effective advocacy tool for school librarians and school libraries in other states."

I already shared the "back story" with Joyce Valenza this morning for her blog, so please check that out, and also watch and take advantage of the other excellent advocacy videos she has assembled there. And, please, spread the word for the sake of our students!