How Huntington Beach Union High School District teaches its students real-world design skills

About Huntington Beach Union High School District

The Huntington Beach Union High School District (HBUHSD)(opens in a new tab or window) in Orange County, California, has 16,000 students across six comprehensive high schools, one continuation high school, one alternative school, and the Huntington Beach Adult School. HBUHSD schools are known for their commitment to academic excellence for all students in the communities they serve.

The Challenge

HBUHSD is dedicated to teaching its students real-world design skills.

Staff at HBUHSD were experiencing difficulties in ensuring students had enough time and resources to complete their creative projects due to the challenging nature of their design programs.

“We were spending so much time teaching the technology, students weren’t creating stories,” says Nick Schwab, HBUHSD Career Tech Education Teacher.

Furthermore, without the ability to collaborate online in their design platform, staff were losing valuable time organizing in-person meetings to plan and coordinate lessons.

The Solution

Canva’s interface was simple for both students and staff to navigate, removing accessibility barriers of previous programs.

“Canva is just so intuitive," says Chrissy Ferruccio, Executive Secretary for HBUHSD Educational Services. "You just start clicking and you're designing. Using Canva, everyone thinks I’m a genius.”

Canva’s secure Single Sign-On (SSO) gave staff peace of mind and meant students could log on and start creating designs in mere minutes.

“With other platforms before, one-third of the class needed help logging in. SSO integration was a real game-changer,” Nick says.

Implementation was easy too, so students now have time to explore their creativity, rather than spend time figuring out how to log in.

“Everything was very easy to implement into our existing structure, so we didn't have to make any changes. That's huge,” says Chris Long, HBUHSD Educational Technology Coordinator.

HBUHSD found that implementing Canva for Education was simple and secure, giving staff and students the freedom to navigate its interface with ease.

Saving time with improved collaboration

After implementing Canva for Education, HBUHSD staff found they were saving between 115-230 hours per month on projects, inclusive of meeting time and info sourcing, by replacing in-person meetings with intuitive online collaboration.

HBUHSD staff saved an estimated 115-230 hours per month on projects once Canva for Education was implemented.

Fostering digital collaboration has streamlined workflows and saved staff a significant amount of administrative time, freeing them up to work on larger projects.

For example, Chrissy notes that Canva has been particularly helpful when collaborating on community flyers in real-time with their Vietnamese and Spanish translators.

“Having Canva all in one place has been hugely instrumental for us because everything has to be translated to our families,” Chrissy says. “It’s been a huge asset for me since I’m not having to download and review multiple documents.”

Using Canva has significantly reduced administrative time for HBUHSD staff and allowed them to work on more impactful projects.

Harnessing creativity for Reflective Learning Walks

One way HBUHSD prioritizes professional development is with Reflective Learning Walks (RLW), where teachers visit classrooms throughout the district to observe instructional strategies and student engagement.

“We wanted to do something special to signify that this was a cool thing for teachers to sign up for, as it’s not mandated,” Chris says.

Using Canva, Chrissy designed two versions of RLW tickets with QR codes for easy signup, in less than 30 minutes. These served as “magical moment” memorabilia for teachers who signed up to the walks.

“We approached Chrissy with the idea, and that same afternoon, we were printing tickets,” Chris says.

HBUHSD has now held four RLWs with all the tickets designed in Canva.

“After our third walk, we did a debrief and one of the teachers commented how cool the tickets were. They really make a difference, since it showed teachers were willing to go out of their way for something that was visually appealing,” Chris says.

HBUHSD has streamlined workflows by using Canva for Education to design assets such as community flyers, Reflective Learning Walk tickets, and administrative presentations.

Facilitating safe creative learning

Canva for Education’s content library of high-quality fair-use images empowers students and staff to create innovative designs without having to source photos elsewhere.

“Having all this inside one system with high-quality resources is such an advantage,” says Nick. “There’s definitely a level of reassurance when students use these high-quality images.”

For Chrissy, another pain point was the time-consuming process of sourcing fair-use images for presentations.

“Finding free images that aren’t pixellated is very time-consuming,” says Chrissy. “Canva definitely helps, especially with its Text to Image feature. You can type in exactly what you’re looking for, which saves tons of time.”

Once HBUHSD implemented Canva for Education, Chrissy spent 50% less time searching for images by 50% and cancelled her personal stock image subscription, saving her hundreds of dollars.

Canva successfully reduced Chrissy’s total time searching for images by 50% and empowers HBUHSD to create unique designs seamlessly with its content library of fair use, high-quality images.

Learning and implementing real-world skills

Teachers across the district are empowering students in real-world scenarios with Canva for Education.

When Nick challenged his students to design a captivating resume in Canva, he noticed his students enjoyed working creatively and took pride in building a resume that represented them, rather than just completing an assignment.

Likewise, a science teacher observed the creativity sparked in students when they used Canva to create comic strips about the solar system.

In today's visually-driven world, Canva removes barriers and provides an accessible platform for students to create stunning visuals. Nick has noticed the creative confidence boost Canva gives students.

“We live in an increasingly visual world, and being able to use Canva with easy startup and onboarding gives you more confidence to create visuals,” Nick says.

Nick says students are using Canva in classes of all subjects, even when not prompted by a teacher. This has paved the way for further professional development in students.

Quotation mark
One of the greatest things about Canva is that students are choosing to use it, even if the teacher hasn’t introduced it. Once they've been exposed to Canva and know about it, they're finding ways to use it in other classes for different projects, whether it's short videos, presentations, or graphics. It seems to help students really gain confidence in their abilities.

Nick Schwab

HBUHSD Career Tech Education Teacher

Making teaching and learning easier

Canva for Education goes beyond traditional learning, by fostering a culture of innovation, creativity, and practical application. It equips both students and educators with the tools they need to succeed in the modern world.

“It's been incredible with the time saved when preparing presentations, flyers, and documents for our school district,” says Chrissy.

Canva has streamlined design workflow, allowing us to focus on what truly matters: delivering impactful content to our students, parents, and community.
Chrissy Ferruccio
Executive Secretary for HBUHSD Educational Services
Hours of work saved per month on projects

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