Microlearning Project

My microlearning experience focused on Canva, a free infographic creator and image editor. You can find it at the following address:


The Instructional Design and Technology program often conducts authentic assessments by asking its learners to synthesize information into graphics, rather than submitting text responses. I tried several others of the tools suggested, including Visme, BeFunky, and Gimp, but I kept coming back to Canva. Canva had the widest variety of templates, the most effective snap-to object alignment, the greatest amount of free graphics, and allows free download of PNGs and PDFs. I found its interface intuitive and helpful, and it didn’t take me long to jump into designing.

I created the following flier, slightly adapted from an assignment in LDT 300x, using Canva: 

As I taught myself Canva, several learning theories came into play.

Andragogy was the most influential theory at work in my experience. Canva offers a wide array of image/infographic templates grouped by intended use. For example, there are categories for educational infographics, logos, menus, resumes, and more. Clicking into any of these categories breaks them down further. For example, clicking “Certificates” reveals subcategories for “award,” “diploma,” “sport,” and even “employee of the month.” By placing templates high in my account’s main nav menu and immediately directing my project toward the real-life product it’s intended to become via these practical categories, Canva appealed to my readiness to learn skills that apply to problems. There’s nothing abstract about starting a project in Canva! The flexibility of Canva’s interface also instilled a sense of agency. For example, in the flier above, the template included the large fried eggs lining the image’s sides as separate, independently moveable assets. This allowed me to place the photo I added underneath the eggs to make its straight sides feel less artificial and out-of-sync with the rest of the flier’s aesthetic. Because I was able to manipulate such details, I felt in control over my product, and this encouraged me to keep learning and making things.

Connectivism offered some insights that were helpful as I learned Canva. Given my digital experience, I knew I could hunt for Creative Commons graphics to use other than those offered by Canva. The potential creative bounty offered by the Internet mitigates the frustration a tool like Canva, which places some content and features behind a pay wall, could cause. I would also have been able to search for a solution to any problems I encountered via a network of fellow Canva users online, rather than consulting a manual.

Behaviorism played a role in how I learned Canva. Trial-and-error was at the heart of my exploration. In order to try an unfamiliar feature, my method is usually to try it out on a low-stakes project (or with the “undo” button close at hand) and keep adjusting it until I at least understand its purpose. Canvas allowed me to place graphics, adjust the order of layers, and play with fonts; then, if I received negative feedback (using my own eye and comparison to models with similar goals as criteria), I could easily and repeatedly try again. After a few successful uses of a tool, I would become conditioned to reach for it in the appropriate situation and use it effectively.

Cognitivism fills in the middle of this trial-and-error process which begins with a stimuli and ends with a response. After spending a few minutes practicing a tool in Canva, I would take time to process the knowledge and reflect on it (asking questions like “is this graphic the right size? Does it contrast well enough? Is it thematically consistent?”) before retrieving and reproducing it. I was motivated to retrieve my new skills because every step of building an infographic is a microproblem of design, and the more skills one has to draw from, the easier these problems are to solve. After exporting a Canva project, I could return and pick up where I left off editing any time, which allowed time for these mediational processes.

Creative Commons License
By Adam Engel. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Header image "Sumi-e Mountain Landscape" by BabakoSen.