My number one tip for beautiful courses in Canvas

I started my love affair with e-learning by loving content and loving designing training programs. I later learnt this had a name, instructional design. When I learnt of this thing called instructional design, I did all I could to learn the pedagogy behind it. I complete a Diploma of Training Delivery and design and enrolled in (but sadly didn’t complete) a Graduate certificate of online education. I also choose as many online curriculum subjects I could in my Master of Education degree. I found that adapting paper based work to online platforms was fun, and I seemed to be good at it. However, one thing that I wasn’t great at was the graphic design element. This wasn’t so much of an issue in Moodle as Moodle isn’t very aesthetically appealing anyway, but when I moved to developing programs in Canvas the potential to make a course BEAUTIFUL needed some design skills.

I went and did a few day courses in HTML and coding, which helped with the functionality and some design but something was still missing. I really didn’t have the time to do more study on the design side and felt that this wasn’t really my strong point, but really wanted to design better looking courses. Then I was introduced to Canva (Thanks Amelia!)

Now when RTOs ask me for tips and hints for good design in a cost effective (mostly free) manner, this is what is suggest.

So what is Canva?

Canva is an amazing powerful design tool made for non-designers with millions of people across the world using it. You don’t have to go to graphic design school in order to use it. It is ideal for creating stunning graphics for social media and print without having to learn a complicated suite or software to do it. So, why are so many people using it? And what can it do for you?

Do you ever need graphics for social media or print? If you don’t, you may want to consider it. Something simple such as adding your image to your post can boost the heck out of your engagement a lot more than boring old text-only posts. That means tons of views, likes and comments and you will see, later on, why this is a good thing for Canvas LMS courses.

Are you tired of having to search the sizes of graphics every time you want to post one? Or just tired of having your images cropped strangely when you post to various sites? Canva makes creating graphics and documents in dozens of standard sizes a breeze. No more opening a pro tool like Photoshop just to add a watermark to an image or to create a simple quote graphic.

So, here are the vitals about Canva:

  • It is free to use
  • It is cloud-based so you don’t need to download any software
  • If you like to design on the go, there is an iPad app available and designs can be synced

Canva has pre-created design types such as: Cards, Facebook cover photo, Presentation, Blog graphic and so on. Whenever you create a design, it is automatically saved to your profile so you can access it later. Let’s quickly examine some of Canva’s features.


Canva has hundreds of pre-designed layouts to help you get started or give some inspiration.

Image Search

The image library contains more than one million images grouped in folder collections such as: banners, speech bubbles and shapes, and so on. There’s also a search bar where you can type the name of the image you are looking for and Canva will bring up tons of results.


You can either add text directly to your page or use the free pre-designed text placeholders.


The Background feature allows you to add a solid colour, patterned background or a stock image.


Canva also allows you to add your own images from your computer or social media and use them for your designs.

Examples of graphics created with Canva

My suggestions for RTOs to improve their Canvas courses using Canva

RTOs can remarkably boost the value achieved from using Canvas LMS by incorporating Canva in their courses. These are some of the things you can do when these two products are creatively used together:

  1. Brand your Canvas pages with your own logos

A well-designed logo will attract the students’ attention. This is good because the learner you want the learner to pay attention to the course content. There is also evidence suggesting that a good logo enhances reputation and builds confidence in the subject matter – in this case the course content. Therefore, the students are more likely to understand the course better.

  1. Add some depth to your content with various colour schemes

Instructors can creatively and artistically use different colour schemes to improve the outlook of each course. By doing this, they reduce the risk of courses becoming too bland and boring.

  1. Design images from scratch to improve the outlook of the course content

Just like logos, original images attract attention of the learner. Images can be placed on the introduction and completion pages as well as within the course content accordingly. They also help the students visualize concepts more easily thus improving the whole academic experience.