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3 Free EdTech tools Useful for Library-Instructors

As a librarian-instructor, I’m always looking for new tools to use in my classes. My rule of three is: they must be free, they must be easy to use, they must encourage learning. Here’s three free tools that fit the bill.


Create online videos & post to YouTube or other places online.

Screencast-o-matic is similar to Camtasia and other video editing software. To use it you must download a little software package. Webcam recording is integrated into the software, which is nice. You can see an example of how the webcam and video capture work on this demo video I just made. The tool is easy to use, and fast. The demo I made took about fifteen minutes from downloading the software to processing and uploading the video.  The free version limits recordings to 15 minutes, and you can export an MP4 video file. The free version does not include video editing. Overall the free version of Screencast-o-matic looks useful for quick one-off recordings that do not require much editing.


Create animated  videos and presentations.

Powtoon uses storyboards to conceptualize your video or presentation, which is useful from a instructional design standpoint. The free version includes ability to export to PDF or PPT, or share the video on a number of sites including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. However to get an MP4 video file, you must upgrade to Premium. Powtoon is easy to set up and use, with several templates targeted towards instructors. Here’s a demo I made. Again, the whole thing took about 15 minutes from start to finish.


Kahoot is a  free game-based learning platform. You can create ‘kahoots’ (games) on any subject, in any language, on any device, for all ages.

Kahoot is by far my favorite free resource on this list. Here’s a goofy quiz I made about the NTO.  Players can join on their phone, laptop or tablet. It favors multiplayer games or teams, but you can configure Kahoot for single game play with some caveats (you will need 2 devices or browsers to play). I can imagine using a Kahoot quiz in group learning settings in both face to face and online situations. Perhaps we’ll see some Kahoots in NTO courses in 2017!


MeSH 2017 and Saved Searches

Do you have a search saved in PubMed? It may need to be updated because of changes in MeSH terminology. Here are the steps you can take to make sure your search is connecting to the current vocabulary:

First, check to see if your MeSH terms have changed:

  • If your term was deleted and replaced with a new term that retained the same meaning, then your old search should work, but you may still want to update your search strategy. For example, Urinary Tract Physiological Processes was deleted as a MeSH term and replaced with Urinary Tract Physiological Phenomena. The previous term was retained as an Entry Term that will map to the current MeSH term.

Next, follow these instructions to update your saved search within your My NCBI account:

How to register for classes on our shiny new website

Did you notice the modern new look of the NNLM Training Office? Our site redesign launched on Monday, December 5th, and boy are we proud of our fantastic fresh look. We hope the site makes it easier for you discover all the great classes the NNLM has coming up. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to mention that the next edition of NTO’s perennially popular PubMed for Librarians series begins January 19th, 2017.

Registering for classes on our new site is easy. Directions below.

How to register for a class on the new NNLM website

  1. Click the green Log in button – it’s at the bottom of every page of our site under the words NNLM Login – and enter your NNLM username and password. (More about account creation below).
  2. Once you’ve logged in, locate the class you want and click REGISTER. (Check out for a list of all upcoming NNLM classes).
  3. That’s it! You are done. View your profile to see a list of classes for which you are currently registered. (Your profile is at the bottom of every page of too).

Don’t have an NNLM Account?

Select CREATE NEW ACCOUNT – it’s at the bottom of every page of our site under the words NNLM Login – and fill out the form to begin. Registration is free and open to anyone.

Have an account on NNLM’s Moodle Distance Learning System prior to December 1, 2016?

Select “Request new password” – it’s at the bottom of every page of our site under the words NNLM Login – to activate your new NNLM account. Your information from the Moodle system has been transferred for you. All you have to do is reset your password, which is done via email.

Questions? Comments?

Contact the NTO at To contact the NNLM Web Services Office directly go to

For visual learners

Here’s a video on how to register for classes on the NNLM site

Register for the next Teaching Topics: Classroom Assessment On the Fly (January 11, 2017)

Picture of a Group

Teaching Topics: Classroom Assessment On the Fly

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 – 1pm ET


Kick off 2017 with new ideas for engaging students and gathering feedback in the classroom. This 60-minute Teaching Topics session will describe different modes of assessment and demonstrate 10 classroom activities that elicit actionable feedback on learning outcomes. This free class is approved for 1 hour of MLA continuing education credits.

Registration is still open for Using ALTBIB: What, Why, and How (Thursday, Dec 8)

white laboratory animal mouse

Using ALTBIB: What, Why, and How

Thursday, December 8, 2016 – 1pm ET


This one-hour webinar provides a basic introduction to the NLM Database ALTBIB: Resources for Alternatives to the Use of Live Vertebrates in Biomedical Research and Testing. We will describe the scope of ALTBIB, briefly explain the history of the database and why it exists, and demonstrate ALTBIB features. Participants will gain hands on experience with the tool with practice exercises, and leave the webinar with a sense of what ALTBIB can and cannot do for animal alternative searches. This free webinar is approved for 1 MLA continuing education credit.