Attention teachers, librarians, makers: lend me your ears!

So I’ll be honest, #blogjune hasn’t worked out quite as I’d hoped. I had been making fantastic daily progress when I was struck down with a hideous head cold. The kind that makes you feel like a zombie, and any kind of thinking beyond ‘when’s my next scotch, honey and lemon drink coming?’ is just too much.

However, I’m feeling much better now, and thought I’d celebrate my return to health by sharing two really awesome tools, one of which you may already know, but one which I am sure many of you may not have seen, and that I know you will love. Combined, they make a fantastic team, perfect for any teacher/librarian/maker.

These tools are Canva and Block Posters, and they are must haves in…well almost anyone’s arsenal of digital tools!

Canva is a tool that makes even the most artistically-challenged soul (me) into a star graphic designer. It was developed in Sydney Australia (!) and has Guy Kawasaki, formerly of Apple, as its chief evangelist, so you know it has got to be good. Basically, you create an account (I have found it works most efficiently on Chrome, although I haven’t tried it out on Safari) and you are able to access a huge range of templates, to enable you to create social media images, infographics, presentations, cool looking CVs, marketing collateral, posters…basically anything! You can check out all the different things I’ve created over the years by exploring my profile: https://www.canva.com/KayO28 . You can also make images private, so you can design things like birthday cards without letting the cat out of the bag :). There is also an iPad app, so you can design on the go if you like (unfortunately no Android equivalent…just yet…).Working with Canva

The best part about it is that you can access all of the tools for free. There is an upgrade option, called Canva for work which has extra features, but I have done without quite well so far on the fee version. Some items (certain layouts, images etc) cost $1 should you choose to use these, however I have been using Canva for over a year now, and I have yet to pay for a thing. I combine the layouts and inspiration from Canva with Creative Commons and Public Domain images. This is possible because not only does Canva provide a wide range of images, icons and backgrounds, it also allows you to upload your own choices! Perfect!

Congratulations Ruby for graduating from puppy preschool! Next step - PHD!
Congratulations Ruby for graduating from puppy preschool! Next step – PHD!

So now you’ve finished your creation (yeah, she’s my little Jack Russell furbaby, I had to include her somehow!), and you’ve created a fantastic poster. But it’s too small! For real impact in a library, classroom or bedroom wall, big is better! This is where Block Posters comes in.

Block Posters allows you to upload your image (of course, the higher resolution, the better the finished product), and it automatically scales your image across A4 or US Letter sheets to the size of your choosing. See below, because a picture tells a thousand words:

blockposters

When it prints out, there may be a narrow white border on each page. If this appears, either slice it off (a guillotine is good for this) or try it with the borders – sometimes it can add to the look. Check out the gallery for inspiration and to see just how much potential this little tool has.

If you are creating a really special poster, you can choose to pay $5 for the premium option. This allows you to upload images greater than 2.5Mb, and also removes the watermark. However for a classroom, or library, often the free version is absolutely fine.

block posters 2

 

These tools combined can help you quickly transform a blank wall, or bring your social media feed alive! If you have used either or both of these tools, drop me a line in the comments – I’d love to follow you on Canva and see your amazing designs :).

4 thoughts on “Attention teachers, librarians, makers: lend me your ears!

  1. Elizabeth Boyd

    Kay, I’ve used Canva (I paid for the premium option which has even more features) and agree with you about the simplicity and power of this tool. This type of quality is becoming normal for professional presentations and it is an extremely effective way of communicating complex (and dull) info effectively.

    1. KayO

      Thanks for sharing, Liz! You are right when you say that people are coming to expect this type of quality in presentations, and it certainly makes it much easier to stand out from the crowd when you have to get a tricky message across.

  2. Thanks Kay. I will have to check out Canva. Sounds like an interesting tool to use.

    1. KayO

      It really is very cool, fun and easy to learn, and useful for a huge range of purposes!

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