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Canva’s Magic Media and 5 Ways to Use It With Students

First of all… Do you have a Canva account?  If the answer is no, you need to head to Canva.com and sign up (read below to learn how to get your free account). Yes, Canva is FREE for educators. It has so many features, including artificial intelligence.  I could write a book and people have about Canva and its possibilities with education but today we are going to focus on Canva’s Magic Media tool.

Sign up for Your FREE Canva Education Account

Sign up with your school email address for a free educator’s account. Once you’ve signed up go to the menu at the top and click on education.  You will see “Teachers and School,” click on this, and in purple, on that page, you will see “Get Verified.”  Follow the directions from this point to get your free account.  Once you have your account your students can sign up and you can add them to your class.

Magic Media

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.  Canva’s magic media tool is a text-to-image generator.  To get access (once you have an account) go to apps on the left-hand side and search “magic media.”  Once it comes up click on the purple icon that says “magic media.”   Do you need more directions check these out from Canva.

Let’s Create!

And now the fun begins. In the box describe what you’d like to create. Once you describe your creation you can click “generate image” or you can add to your creation by picking a style like “watercolor” or “dreamy.”  You also have a choice to change the aspect ratio if you need certain dimensions. Don’t get intimidated by coming up with the perfect prompt; just PLAY! Here are some results from prompts that only have one word or just a few words:

“Dog” Style: Dreamy
“Person in the rain,” no style chosen.
“Sunflower” Style: Soft Focus

You usually get four images for the prompt you put in, and you can use one, all, or none of them.

Canva and AI

Now that you know what magic media does, let me tell you more about why this is a great tool to use with students.  Canva has many AI tools, however, text-to-image is the only one that is open to all students, and even that you can control for the students that are in your Canva class.  All of Canva’s other AI tools are for 18+, and I’m sure at some point we will review some of those so stay tuned!  
The other thing I like about Canva’s thoughtful approach to AI with students is the guardrails they’ve put into place.  They have automated reviews of input prompts for terms that might generate inappropriate imagery, and you can also report unsafe images.  Their Acceptable Use Policy also outlines more, as well as their advice on How to use Magic Studio safely and legally.

What do the guardrails look like?

I’ve done many professional development sessions around the state of Maine and I usually recommend Canva. When I show magic media we do a fun activity that Carl Hooker designed using the prompt: “Create a (animal) that is doing (activity) at (place) with a (color) sky.”  Without fail (just like our kids do) the participants want to put in anything in.  I usually oblige because I want them to see Canva’s guardrails. An example of this is below when a group said “vaping” as the activity.  You can see the guardrails in place.  This is similar if you asked it to create a Pixar character or Mickey Mouse. They are very thoughtful about what they’ve put into place and using AI ethically.

Magic Media’s Guardrails

What can I do with AI image generation?

So, are you ready to use Magic Media with students? Magic media can be used for a variety of things.  At its very simplest you can use it to create designs for your presentations and lessons.  More complex is to use it with students.  Here are 5 ways to use AI image generation with students:

#1 Figurative Language

Students struggle with figurative language so why not give them a visual? You could use text-to-image creations (or have students create them) with figurative language and then discuss what is meant by each phrase.  

Can you guess the following examples?

We will post these on our Facebook page, I hope you’ll make some guesses there, and we’ll give the answers there too! 

#2 Getting Students to Be More Descriptive

Do you hear yourself saying “Be more descriptive in your writing?”  Have students plug their descriptions into Canva and ask is that what you wanted?  They will have to add more descriptive words to get it to look just how they want it.  An easy prompt for this activity is to have students describe themselves and have the AI create an image of them. 

Here are some prompts and words to help you and your students create:

Prompt: “Chibi, 40-year-old woman, brown hair, with glasses, standing, chubby, professional, ultra-realistic, animation style, 3d render, photo, illustration

Here is the image I created of myself using the prompt above.

Before prompting I had never heard of “Chibi,” it is a type of anime that gives you that cartoon style (I bet there are students who know this description).  Words like “ultra-realistic, photo, illustration” also help (even mashing up words that may be opposites so the AI gives you a mix of the two styles can help your image).  

You can choose your style in Canva, or add it to the prompt, things like painting, drawing, or black and white (to create a coloring page), and illustration can all help you get the image you want. You could even give it specific lighting and photography settings.

If you or your students want more ideas do a Google search, and start looking a little bit more critically at all images! 

#3 Bringing ______ to Life (Insert Writing, Reading, Art, etc…)

  • Have students use descriptions that they’ve read or created in their writing to create characters or settings.
  • You could have them create an image (of a character description or setting) first by drawing it, and then have the AI create the image. Then have students compare and contrast what was included in each image, can they match the descriptive words to the parts of the image?
  • Flip it around; give students an AI-generated image and use it as a writing prompt or conversation starter.

I feel like each of these ideas could be expanded on to create what you need in your classroom.

#4 SEL

Sometimes it is hard to pull students into those SEL lessons. Why not use AI image generation as an engaging way in? Have students create images around their feelings. You could have them create images around social stories (that you created with Magicschool.ai), or just use it as a brain break.  There are lots of ways to use it with SEL.

#5 Discussions

I feel like this is another category that has many suggestions, I’ll leave you with just a few. 

  • Have students analyze their images, asking them “Is there a missing perspective from what you created?” Depending on the age of your students you could ask them to type in one-word prompts such as doctor or nurse.  What is their output? What do they notice?  (Spoiler alert, when I did this the results were very biased, it’s a reminder that we have to keep the HUMAN in the loop and have these discussions with students that AI can contain bias.) 
  • You could also have Canva create different styles of art and talk about the feeling it portrays, or if you’re an art teacher, what makes it that style? On this same note, you could talk about the ethics of AI art and copyright.  
  • You might also discuss fake images that people think are real. How do you know if something is AI-generated? What type of problems could fake images cause?

There are many rich discussions that you can get from an image, what is that saying? A picture is worth a thousand words?

I hope that you try out Canva’s Magic Media for yourself and your students. Tell us how you have used or will use AI-generated images. Remember you can check out all of the tools from Tool Tuesday here.

-Stay Curious, Stay Innovative!

apple with Nicole

AI transparency: The images in this post are created with AI (specifically Canva’s Magic Media), however, the post was written entirely by me.

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