GarrisonSites has been a great ride. I've enjoyed the collaboration and sharing of this blog and accompanying 50 Sites presentations.  Over the past couple of years as my work has shifted away from day to day classroom work and towards more organizational leadership and systemic change, I have moved away from collecting, testing and archiving these types of tools and have shifted to focusing on innovating education.

You'll find the new resources at

Stop by and say hi!

MEMO Conference

I am looking forward to keynoting the 2014 MEMO conference on March 15, 2014.

My keynote expands on the themes of my TEDx and examines how concepts like the SAMR swimming pool and bridge to 21st Century pedagogies can help us innovate and change education.

What will you STOP, START and CONTINUE to promote change and innovation at your school?  Take the challenge!

One final round of the best 50 Sites of the last two years.

MASSP Conference

MASSP Pre-Conference

January 29, 2014
8:30 - 11:30

1.  Introduction and Goals
2.  GarrisonSites
3.  Idea Sharing and Challenge
4.  Collaboration and Application

BatchGeo to Create Maps with Spreadsheet Data

BatchGeo calls itself, "the fastest way to create Google Maps from your data."

Add your data to a spreadsheet.  You've got lots of options because BatchGeo accepts addresses, intersections, cities, states, and postal codes.

BatchGeo will create a map of your data.

TIES Conference 2013

Looking forward to catching up with friends and picking up a couple of new ideas at the 2013 TIES Conference.

Thanks to everyone who came to the 6th annual 50 sites and the Educelerate TC Event.  It was fun to connect with everyone and have a chance to share ideas.

How is your TIES experience?  Follow me @markgarrison and let me know what you're up to.

Photo @TurnbullChris


Canva is a simple to use tool that allows users to easily create professional looking images.  I signed up as soon as I heard about the site and was creating images as soon as I got my account confirmation.  The interface is intuitive, the templates are helpful and the final results look great.

My only reservation about Canava is that many of their stock images cost $1.00.  I'm always hesitant to post things that can cost money because this creates some obvious issues for students.

However, Canava does offer many free resources and they were very quick to respond to my questions.  I asked about the potential of free educational accounts.  Those do not exist yet, but the Canava staff did give GarrisonSites permission to share this VIP link.  It will give you instant access to the site (no ~48-hour waiting after you sign up) and $10.00 in credit to spend on your creations.

You can create everything from posters and business cards to Facebook cover photos, presentation graphics, photo collages and holiday cards.  Give it a try.

You'll be impressed by what you can create.

TEDx - Technology, Adventure and Change

Here is what I believe about 15 minutes or less.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune interviewed me for this piece about the TEDx event.

Google Sheets Update

One of the many great things about Google Apps is that they are always changing.  This means there are always improvements being rolled.  More importantly, it means that veteran and novice users alike always have things to learn.  As educators, we need to model lifelong learning in front of our students  and Google's changing platform provides a safe place for this activity.  Even if we are proficient users, there is always something new we can learn form a student, colleague, Twitter or blog post.  

The December 2013 Sheets update has some speed, size and formula (with "learn more" links) and offline improvements that look great.  Still, the one I am most excited about is the ability to filter data on your version of a sheet without affecting how other collaborators see/sort the data.  This is one of those little things I always wished was different.  Google fixed it.  Thanks!

iOS + IFTTT = Efficiency!

Being a Google Apps super fan, you'd think I'd have an Android phone.  However, being a tech director, I need to keep up on all platforms.  So in my office I use a PC.  I bring a Chromebook to meetings  I present on a Mac.  I read on a Nexus 7 and I carry an iphone in my pocket.

I often hear people say that they wish Google and Apple would just get along so we could all have the integrated systems we want.  We can't make two competing companies collaborate, but with IFTTT we can make their services work together.

I was an early IFTTT user.  The service was cool at the start, but not wholly integrated.  Recent updates have made it much more comprehensive.  It is time to put IFTTT to work to make your tools work smarter.

This article shows some great ways to leverage the IFTTT app.

You can send a friend an email with the photo every time you add a picture to a specific iOS album.

Add all new photos to Google Drive.

Add a line to Google Spreadsheet every time you come an go from work.

Get an sms each time it the forecast calls for rain.

Auto-send your spouse a text when you leave work.

Sync your contacts....

...and hundreds of other things.

Spend 15 minutes playing around on IFTTT's recipe page.  Make Google and Apple work together.  Make your life more efficient.  You'll be happy you did.

Google+ Photos

I was a big fan of SnapSeed back when it was a standalone app.  When Google made it the default editor in Google+ they left all of the greatness of the original and paired it with some excellent features.

Auto Backup - automatically syncs every picture you take with your phone.

Auto enhance and highlights are nice.

Auto awesome speaks for itself.

Check out the photo features in Google+.  Who knows, you might get so excited that you start using Google+.

Google Earth Tour Builder

Finally we have a tool that easily integrates the best interactive maps with text and images and allows users to quickly create stunning presentations!

Google Earth Tour Builder is the thing I have been looking for since 2002!

You can read all about it on the Google Maps Blog.  Once you do, head right over to the Tour Builder and get to work.  It is so intuitive, you will hardly even need to bother with directions.

The possible educational applications are limitless:

  • Make your own Novel-related Lit Trip.
  • Plot distances in Math class.
  • Make a family trip come to life!
  • Use it for, well, nearly every unit in Social Studies and History.
  • Follow your favorite musher in the Iditarod.
  • Make moving infographics.
  • Geo-tag your field trip photos.
  • Chart your Project Noah research.  
  • Map storms and other weather.
  • Collect and plot out scientific data.
  • Collaborate!
  • ...
I can't wait to hear about all of the ways you put this amazing resource to use!

Chrome Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

Do you ever accidentally close a tab and wish you could instantly pull it back up?  Now you can!

(Ctrl = Command on a Mac)

Try Ctrl + Shift + T to reopen the last tab you closed.
Ctrl + T will open a new tab.

Ctrl + Backspace will delete the previous word in the address bar.

Ctrl + N will open a new window.
Ctrl + Shift + N will open a new incognito window.

Ctrl + V will paste.
Ctrl + Shift + V will paste with no formatting.

Ctrl + F will help you find any word on a page. 

Ctrl + 9 to switch to the last tab in your window.

Hit the Space Bar on any website to page down.
Shift + Space Bar will page up.

That should get you started.  When you are ready for more, here is a great list of 70 other helpful Chrome Shortcuts.

What does 21st Century Research Look Like?

Caity Selleck and Emily Gover wrote an article for EdTech Digest analyzing data they've pulled from Easybib.

The statistic that initially caught my attention was that 1% of students they polled thought databases were necessary for successful research compared to 60% of them of the librarians and other educators they polled.

This statistic shows what we already know - that we are living during a monumental shift in how we find and understand information.  Selleck and Gover follow this up by reiterating what other studies have also found, that students are equally likely to "cite a credible and academic source as they are to cite a less-than-authoritative one....Needless to say, restricting student access to technology and the Internet isn’t the answer. Rather, educating students about online source quality — and critically thinking about and evaluating these sources — must become an integral part of the curriculum."

I agree.

10 Most Popular YouTube Educational Videos of 2013

Everyone knows that there is lifetimes of excellent educational content on YouTube.  Still, with over 100 hours of content being added to the site every minute, it is hard to keep up.

     * 79 years, or 692,499 hours = Average American lifespan
     * 692,499/100 = 6,924.99 Minutes it takes YouTube users to upload 79 years of content
     * 4.8 Days = How long it takes YouTube users to upload a lifetime's worth of video.

We have to network to get better at our jobs, our lives, and to find the best content on the web.  So it is helpful to have lists like the 10 Most Popular YouTube Educational Videos of 2013.  They help to connect us to great content and great content producers.

Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute is one of the best examples I've seen of well curated digital content.  It is a fascinating place to learn about pivotal historical moments and the wonders and explore the world's art galleries in unprecedented detail.  The collections draw visitors in with cleverly and attractively assembled content.  Moreover, the layout is a perfect model for the kind of multimedia work we should be expecting from our students.

Goodbye 3-fold poster era.  Let's get our students exploring and creating in the digital world!