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Monday, April 19, 2010

Lefora - Create a Free Message Board Forum

Last week's announcement from Ning that they're discontinuing their free service has some educators looking for alternative ways to host message boards and social networks. Lefora, a free message board service that I first explored in 2007, is one alternative to Ning worth considering.

Lefora allows anyone to create a public or private message board in three easy steps. To create a message board hosted by Lefora, click "create a forum," create a user name, then select the layout of your forum. Your forum will be hosted as a subdomain of Lefora.com. Users of your forum can create profiles complete with avatars, biographies, and links to their blogs or other social networking profiles.

Applications for Education
Lefora could be used by PTAs to create discussion forums for parents. Lefora could also be used by teachers to create message boards to extend discussions beyond classroom hours.


Here are four other Ning alternatives you may want to explore.

5 Resources for Learning About Volcanoes

The eruption of the volcano in Iceland may present teachers with an opportunity to combine lessons in science and current events. The list below contains five resources for learning about volcanoes in general. If you're looking for links specifically about the volcano in Iceland, Larry Ferlazzo has a good list going.

Volcano Above the Clouds is a NOVA program that chronicles an ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro by a group of climbers and scientists. In addition to the video, Volcano Above the Clouds offers a large collection of materials and teaching guides for learning about volcanoes, glaciers, and climate change with Mount Kilimanjaro at the center of each lesson. As Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the Seven Summits of the world, NOVA provides a slideshow of the Seven Summits which puts Kilimanjaro into perspective relative to those other summits.

Forces of Nature is a feature of National Geographic's website. There are four sections to the Forces of Nature. The sections focus on tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes. There are six parts to each section. In the last part of each section students can create their own natural disaster using the knowledge they've gained from the previous five parts about how a natural disaster is formed. The Forces of Nature also offers photo galleries and interactive maps about tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

The BBC has a series of interactive guides that explain how natural disasters are caused. Included in this series is a twelve part animated explanation of volcanic eruptions. The series also includes explanations of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.















National Geographic's film Volcano: Nature's Inferno follows scientists as they explain what causes volcanoes to erupt and as the scientists try to predict when volcanoes will erupt. Watch the film for free on Snag Films.

The PBS Series Savage Earth offers animations how volcanic eruptions happen. The series also contains animations that explain earthquakes and tsunamis.

Draw.to - A Quick & Easy Free Drawing Tool

I've written about online drawing tools in the past and they all have one thing in common, simplicity. Draw.to is no exception to that pattern. Using Draw.to anyone can quickly create a freehand sketch and share it with the world. To use Draw.to enter the url draw.to in your favorite browser, select the drawing tools you want to use, and start drawing. When you're done you can embed your drawing into your blog or share it with friends via Twitter, Facebook, or Google Buzz.

Take a look at some drawings from the Draw.to public gallery.







Applications for Education
Draw.to isn't going to replace full-fledged image editors or drawing programs, but it could be useful for your students if they need to quickly sketch an image for a blog post or a presentation.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
SketchPad - A Fun, Free Drawing Tablet
Five Online Drawing Tools
7 Resources for Creating Cartoons & Comics

Close-up Aerial Views of Iceland's Erupting Volcano

The eruption of the volcano in Iceland has stalled travel from North America to Europe. Today's episode of CNN Student News offers close-up aerial views of the eruption. Climb aboard a helicopter with Gary Tuchman to view the plumes of steam, smoke, and ash from the eruption.



Larry Ferlazzo has a created a great list of resources for learning more about the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

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