How to Use Canva to Merge Technology Standards and Content Standards

This is a guest post by one of our blog writers, Katherine Miller.

Technology is in our student’s everyday life. It may even be hard for many of them to imagine a time when it wasn’t that way even though many of us cannot relate. In fact, I can remember when technology was a class I attended in middle school. A warm lab filled with computers where we got to do amazing things….like play Oregon Trail! But, seriously, time was carved out of our schedule to focus our learning on technology because it was an important part of our education. 

And, it still is! However, as technology has changed, so has the purpose within our student’s school life. Teaching technology, or teaching WITH technology, does not mean you are teaching keyboarding skills or software programs. ISTE (The International Society of Technology in Education) believes technology should be used “to empower student voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process”. 

This is why the ISTE Technology Standards (formerly known as NETS) were created. The standards are not meant to be standalone benchmarks, but were designed to support the implementation of technology into any content area standards. This means we are ALL teachers of technology.

There are 7 technology standards for students that represent the skills and knowledge they need to be successful 21st century learners in EVERY content area.

  1. Empowered learner– I use technology to set goals, work toward achieving them and demonstrate my learning
  2. Digital citizen– I understand the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world.
  3. Knowledge constructor– I critically select, evaluate and synthesize digital resources into a collection that reflects my learning and builds my knowledge.
  4. Innovative designer- I solve problems by creating new and imaginative solutions using a variety of digital tools.
  5. Computational thinker- I identify authentic problems, work with data and use a step-by-step process to automate solutions.
  6. Creative communicator– I communicate effectively and express myself creatively using different tools, styles, formats and digital media.
  7. Global collaborator– I strive to broaden my perspective, understand other work effectively in terms of digital tools.

Additionally, there is a set of technology standards for educators, administrators, technology coaches, and, of course, computer sciences teachers. You can find out more information by visiting:

How can Canva be used to merge Technology Standards and Content Standards?

This month, Midnight Music has been featuring Canva. Besides being a 100% free online tool that you can use to design all sorts of graphics, Canva is a tool educators can use to incorporate the ISTE technology standards into their classrooms. A benefit of using just one tool that can be used in so many different ways is that we can focus on student learning rather than the learning of a tool. 

There are three main opportunities to start to add the innovation intended by the technology standards into our classrooms: how students show their learning, opportunities to collaborate with others, and sharing their learning with a variety of audiences.

Student Products

Student voice is at the center of the ISTE technology standards. This is a shift from the traditional teacher led classroom model. In order to make your classroom more learner directed, the work students produce needs to allow for their own voice and choice. 

Try it using Canva:

  • Empower learners by using presentation features in Canva to have students create learning portfolios or tutorials for teaching others how to do something. 
  • Allow students to construct their own knowledge by creating a graphic that helps to scaffold design thinking (define a problem, generate ideas, test their ideas, and evaluate how their idea worked).
  • Ask students to create a graphical version of their research results. 
  • Watch students get creative by app smashing or using multiple apps together. They can add multimedia created in other apps within the Canva “elements” option or even use another app to share their creative creations with others by downloading their design.


Collaboration is also another important piece of the ISTE technology standards. As educators, we understand the importance of this soft skill because we use it every day in our work. So do many other professions. Providing students opportunities in our content area to collaborate is made even easier by incorporating technology. The collaboration does not even have to happen within the walls of our classrooms! It can extend beyond that.

Try it using Canva:

  • Allow students to work together to be innovative designers. Students can collaborate to solve problems using the many tools available to them in Canva. Their designs can easily be shared by giving access to allow other users to edit or view. 
  • Provide feedback to learners to help guide and empower them. You can leave comments on their work in Canva by clicking on any element. A speech bubble with a plus sign will pop up to type in. This can also be done by any classmates who have access to the design too.

Sharing Student Learning

The connectivity of our world through technology is a unique opportunity. Students can gain so much perspective and knowledge by sharing their learning with others. And not just others in the classroom but globally! This is another important part of the technology standards. In sharing their learning with known and unknown audiences, students need to understand how to create an online identity that is safe and positive but also following ethical and legal.

Try it using Canva:

  • Using Canva provides students with images/assets that are already permitted to be used under copyright laws. This far outweighs the broad Google searches they may be used to doing. 
  • Allow students to communicate globally by experiencing audiences at all different levels. Students can share their designs within a small community by adding it to your Google Classroom, a larger, select audience by using Flipgrid or to the world by posting their designs to social media to gain international feedback. 

You are a teacher of technology!

The ISTE technology standards set the bar for what is possible for student learning. They can be incorporated into any content area. Most importantly, they help clarify and focus how we can make a lifelong impact on the learners who come into our classroom. Even if they aren’t able to use our content in their day to day adult lives….like all those lessons I learned about typhoid and dysentery from Oregon Trail….providing opportunities for our students to thrive in our technological world will make an impact.

Thank goodness for amazing tools like Canva! I am a teacher of technology and so are you.

If you have not seen the continuing series around Canva and all the ways you can use it to incorporate the ISTE technology standards into YOUR content area, please visit the Midnight Music Blog page

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About the Writer

Katherine Miller

Katherine (Katie) Miller holds a Bachelor of Music in Education degree from Otterbein University (Westerville, OH) and a Masters of Educational Leadership from Antioch McGregor Midwest (Yellow Springs, OH). She has 15 years of professional musical experience as a music educator and performer.

She is currently employed by the School District of Waukesha in Waukesha, WI, where she teaches K-5 General Music and serves as a district model tech classroom. She was recognized in 2018 as a WPT Education Innovator by Wisconsin Public Television Education team.

Twitter: K8TMiller

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