• News
  • 5 ways visual communication and AI are changing education

5 ways visual communication and AI are changing education

At the 2024 SXSW EDU Conference, Canva’s panel of edtech professionals discussed the transformative impact of modern tools on building creativity and innovation in the classroom. Here are five of their top insights.


As teachers look for innovative ways(opens in a new tab or window) to engage students and prepare them to thrive in an increasingly visual world of work, creativity in the classroom(opens in a new tab or window) has never been more important. Visual communication tools and AI technology(opens in a new tab or window) are helping educators revolutionize and personalize learning while creating a more inclusive environment for all students.

The 2024 SXSW EDU Conference(opens in a new tab or window) is a vibrant event dedicated to championing innovation and education to drive impact for learners worldwide, where I was part of a panel that delved into the impact of modern tools on enhancing creativity and innovation within the classroom. Here are five key takeaways from our discussion.

Canva’s panel at the SXSW Educuation Conference with 4 people sitting on seats on a stage, and one holding a microphone from left to right on seats: Guy Kawasaki, Jason Wilmot, Erika Sandstrom, and Kelly Gibson

Canva’s SXSW EDU panel: Guy Kawasaki, Jason Wilmot, Erika Sandstrom, and Kelly Gibson.

1. Growing visual literacy is a necessity

In an era dominated by visual communication, understanding, creating, and conveying messages through visuals is foundational. These skills are becoming a necessity(opens in a new tab or window) for students – not only to help them embrace their creativity and express themselves but to prepare them for the workforce.

We’ve seen it in our 2023 Visual Economy Report(opens in a new tab or window) — visuals are rapidly becoming the most impactful form of communication in the workplace, with 90% of global business leaders believing visual communication enhances efficiency, and 89% seeing improved collaboration. About two-thirds (61%) of global business leaders also say they expect workers in non-design roles to have “extensive design knowledge,” including the ability to create new graphics and presentations from scratch.

Findings from Canva’s 2023 Visual Economy Report.

We’re passionate about supporting educators in prioritizing visual literacy to ensure their students are well-equipped for the visually driven demands of their future careers.

2. AI is a catalyst for personalised learning experiences

AI is a real catalyst for the next era of teaching and personalised learning. Leveraging this technology(opens in a new tab or window) in the classroom gives us the opportunity to move beyond one-size-fits-all teaching methods and truly maximize the potential of the next generation.

Individualized learning is increasingly essential in nurturing students' diverse needs and promoting their holistic growth, and teachers are optimistic about how AI can support this.

According to our AI in Education survey(opens in a new tab or window), 72% of respondents believe the AI could help with language learning, and 67% say it could support universal accessibility. For example, with Magic Write(opens in a new tab or window), teachers can summarize complex text in one click and adapt materials to ensure that the same content is accessible and engaging for students across different reading levels.

AI has the potential to have a profound impact on teachers’ ability to personalize content to meet the needs of individual students, no matter where they are in their learning journey.

3. Visual tools empower students to transform ideas into reality

The power of creativity can't be underestimated. Providing students with access to visual and AI tools isn't just about keeping up with the latest technology; it’s about giving them the means to innovate and bring their imaginations to life.

Erika Sandstrom, a Digital Learning teacher from Massachusetts who joined us on this panel, uses Canva’s Text-to-Image(opens in a new tab or window) tool to positively impact her students' well-being. Erika created a custom, animated template called “My Breathing Bubble(opens in a new tab or window),” where her students use Text-to-Image(opens in a new tab or window) to personalize their own mindfulness and breathing exercises to suit their unique preferences.

Canva’s SXSW EDU panel: Guy Kawasaki, Jason Wilmot, Erika Sandstrom, and Kelly Gibson.

4. AI helps teachers improve their effectiveness and efficiency

Teachers constantly balance multiple tasks, from meticulously planning lessons to crafting visually engaging materials for their students. Access to time-saving tools(opens in a new tab or window) like AI allows them to devote more time and energy to individual students' needs.

For example, lesson planning(opens in a new tab or window) is the backbone of effective teaching, but it's often a time-consuming task that educators face. Teachers can use Magic Write(opens in a new tab or window) to create a well-structured lesson plan in seconds, freeing up their time for more meaningful classroom engagement.

By automating routine tasks, AI allows teachers to focus more on personalised interaction, mentorship, and addressing each student's unique challenges.

5. Teachers need support to unlock AI’s full potential in the classroom

There’s no doubt AI will make teachers’ lives easier – however, our AI in Education survey(opens in a new tab or window) underscored the need for support for teachers. Educators are highly interested in integrating AI into their teaching methods, with 78% showing enthusiasm for incorporating AI in classrooms to enhance lessons and reduce administrative tasks. However, despite this eagerness, a significant knowledge gap exists, with 93% of educators not knowing where to begin with AI tools.

Findings from Canva's AI in Education survey.

The research underscores the need for support and highlights the importance of bridging the knowledge gap to enable teachers to harness the potential of AI.

We’re on a mission to close this gap(opens in a new tab or window) and help make AI-powered tools an integral part of the teaching toolkit. We’re excited to be partnering with multiple educational institutions around the world to help bring the technology to teachers and unlock the full potential of AI for the classroom.

Want to bring Canva to your classroom, district, or college? Find out more here(opens in a new tab or window)!


Stay in the loop with our monthly newsletter! From the latest news and announcements to stories and insights, join our community for updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Sign up