Introducing Canva: an accessible graphic design tool

What is Canva?

Graphic design toolCanva is an easy-to-use design tool which makes graphic design accessible for learners with all levels of abilities, from complete beginners to experienced designers.

Canva’s simple drag and drop function combined with thousands of pre-made layouts enables users to quickly and easily create a wide range of different designs. Choose from, among others:

  • A4 posters
  • Blog graphics
  • Social media posts
  • CVs
  • Infographics

Alternatively you can customise your design using your own dimensions. In addition to this Canva also has a large number of icons and graphics which can be incorporated into your designs – great for creating eye-catching infographics.

Canva also has a large library of both paid-for and free photos which you can easily incorporate into your designs, this allows students to use a range of images free from copyright. In addition, this tool allows you to upload your own photos allowing you to easily customise your designs and make use of Creative Commons images available for remixing.

With the ability to share, comment on and remix designs, collaboration within a team, for example on group projects, is also an option. Furthermore, Canva’s ‘Design school’ and tutorials provide great resources for budding graphic designers, enabling users to hone their skills and pick up new ideas, tips and tricks to incorporate into their own designs. Take a look at Canva’s collection of templates to get some design inspiration.

Canva design stream


Is it free?

Yes, Canva can be used completely free of charge! A free account gives you access to many different features mentioned above including a wide range of layouts, images, icons and fonts. There is also the option to upgrade to ‘Canva for Work’, a paid-for account costing $12.95 per month. This account allows for increased collaboration on designs and projects with the possibility of adding up to 50 members, for example a whole class, to a group.

If you wish to use the full library of Canva’s photos you will have to pay $1 per photo that you use, however as you have the ability to upload your own photos you may find that Canva’s stock photos are not needed.

Will it work on my device?

This tool is web-based and works in any web browser. An iOS app is also available for iPads and iPhones allowing you to work on your designs offline and on-the-go. As Canva is cloud based it is possible to sync your account across your different devices meaning that you can access your designs anywhere.

Ideas for using Canva in learning and teaching

  • Create engaging, eye-catching presentations either for your own in-class presentations or for student led presentations
  • Poster presentations – this provides students with an alternative mode of presenting and can also be used to show the output of group projects
  • Infographics – this format is great for presenting data and provides a fun and engaging way of displaying content
  • Blog graphics – set a blogging activity in which students can log their progress and reflect upon their learning throughout a module, students can then create blog graphics to enhance their posts
  • Create a cover for an e-book (see our post Create an Ebook!)
  • Canva also helps students to develop vital digital skills which are easily transferable and useful for future employment

Canva editing interface

What are the alternatives?

There are many different design programmes available, both free and paid-for, some alternatives to Canva include:

  • Photoshop and InDesign – part of the Adobe suite and arguably the most popular tools, these programmes are paid-for alternatives however the full Adobe Creative Cloud suite is available on students computers at Sussex
  • Pixlr – Pixlr Editor allows you to edit images in a similar way to Photoshop using layers while Pixlr Express enables you to quickly edit images and create collages
  • Inkscape – free vector graphics software available on Mac, Windows and Linux


Canva is a great, free tool with the potential for many different uses. This straightforward web-based programme allows students to produce high quality content at no cost, equipping them with easily transferable skills.

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Posted in Accessibility, Learning Design
2 comments on “Introducing Canva: an accessible graphic design tool
  1. Tom Walters says:

    We’ve been using Canva for awhile now. Think it’s a hugely valuable site.

    Thanks for the great blog.

  2. Sally says:

    Great post. I’ve used Canva for a while too but now started using Easil more as their designs are amazing. Also use Pixlr for other image editing.

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We are the Educational Enhancement team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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