"App"etizer: The Canvas Drawing App for Chrome

Ever been in a pinch in a classroom where you or your students need a quick access to a whiteboard or drawing space? 

Enter Canvas for Chrome

Canvas for Chrome is a really simple (very simple in fact), web-based app that allows quick drawings and sketches on a snap. 

(Note: to avoid confusion with the popular LMS, Canvas, I'lll be referring to this app from this point on as "Canvas for Chrome.")

Its features are rather straightforward, but there are some additional nuances that teachers and students can take advantage of. Let's go over the basics first:

To access Canvas for Chrome, using your Chrome app, type in the following site:

Once you're there, sign up using your Google account and then you can choose between two basic options:

Obviously, starting from a new drawing is starting with a blank Canvas (pun intended)--we'll get to the second option, "New From Image", here in a moment.

The basic uses of of the app are pretty similar to any given "Paint" app-- pens, markers, shaders, erasers, etc. However, these are the only tools available (as of now). Don't look at Canvas for Chrome's limited tools as a downside, however-- one big mistake that us teachers make with tech in the classroom is that the tech itself can become a barrier to learning. It can be really easy to get excited by a tool that can do so many things that our students get lost along the way.

Here, we're trying to value functionality over flashiness.

Here's a few ways that our students might actually use the blank Canvas part of the app: 

  1. Brainstorming ideas with a peer in class
  2. Creating a visual representation of some new content or skill they've learned.
  3. Reflecting or practicing metacognition after a lesson or unit.

The second option for drawing, called "New From Picture" has even more uses. In this version, students can annotate or draw on top of a Googled or distributed image (from Drive, Dropbox, Google Images, etc).

Here's just a few ways to use "New From Picture" in your classroom: 

  1. Distribute a picture of a graphic organizer and let students create and annotate off of your template.
  2. Create an incorrect picture of a homework assignment or other classroom content and let students "mark up" the mistakes.
  3. Give students a picture of a text or short reading and let them highlight, underline, and annotate the text as they would on paper.
Regardless of how you used Canvas for Chrome, once students have finished their drawings, they're saved in the app--and they can even send them to you after they've downloaded them as a PNG.

What creative ways do you think you might use this app in your classroom? Drop a comment below!