We are incredibly excited to announce the development of our newest project — ALiEMU. This top-secret project has been in the works for only 3 months, but has gained incredible momentum thanks to our all-star team, led by Dr. Chris Gaafary, who is our ALiEMU Chief of Design and Development… while he is not busy being an incoming EM chief resident at the University of Tennessee.

What is ALiEMU? The one-liner is: A free educational website which hosts free, on-demand e-courses, featuring the AIR series as the inaugural course.

AIR Series: The inaugural course

]The Approved Instructional Resources (AIR) series was a pilot project, launched by Dr. Andy Grock et al one year ago to address the needs of U.S. EM residency programs to identify quality online educational content by creating a team of established educators and a 5-domain scoring instrument. To date, the AIR series is being used by over 50 U.S. EM residency programs. The AIR series executive team has 13 members:

  1. Felix Ankel, MD
  2. Jeremy Branzetti, MD
  3. Andy Grock, MD (AIR Editor)
  4. Nikita Joshi, MD (AIR Associate Editor)
  5. Jay Khadpe, MD
  6. Michelle Lin, MD (AIR Associate Editor)
  7. Kasey Mekonnen, MD (AIR Intern)
  8. Eric Morley, MD
  9. Lynn Roppolo, MD
  10. Anand Swaminathan, MD
  11. Salim Rezaie, MD
  12. Taku Taira, MD
  13. Lainie Yarris, MD MCR

To meet the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) “Individualized Interactive Instruction” requirement for an “evaluative component”, we initially created a makeshift means to host an online quiz, which allowed program directors to identify the residents who completed each module. Google Forms got the job done, but frankly it could be much better. Our ultimate vision was always to create:

  • Learner dashboards
  • Educator dashboards
  • Badges
  • Leaderboards
  • Engagement strategies within the virtual community of learners and educators

Why not just build ALiEMU courses on established MOOC sites?

Massive open online courses (MOOC) are a booming business. Coursera and EdX seem to be leading this movement. We initially entertained moving the AIR series to one of these platforms but quickly realized that these sites only affiliate with major educational institutions and nonprofit organizations. Then we looked at third-party companies which offer to create MOOC sites using open-source platforms for hefty startup and maintenance fees. Additionally the proposed sites did meet our standards for website design, user experience criteria, and mobile responsiveness.

Since we couldn’t find an existing platform to our liking, we set out to create our own with our collective resources and expertise. What resulted was ALiEMU. It has already exceeded our expectations, and will be hopefully be publicly launched in July 2015.

ALiEMU home

Our vision for ALiEMU

In the process of building this MOOC-like website for the AIR series, we quickly realized that this might be a platform of interest to other educators, who also have no home for great curricular e-content. We ultimately envision serving as a platform where educators could submit e-courses, whereupon each would undergo expert peer review and receive instructional design assistance to optimize online content delivery and learner retention. Only high-quality, vetted courses relevant to the EM community would be published as an on-demand course on ALiEMU.

What’s our next ALiEMU e-course?

We envision that the concept of ALiEMU will reshape how people envision asynchronous medical education. Here’s a hint on what our next major course is:

We are currently NOT taking submissions for any new e-courses until we establish a credible track record and fine-tune the novel features that we would like to have available across all e-courses.

How are we funding this ambitious venture?

We currently have been funded through the volunteerism and sweat equity of our ALiEM team. We are thrilled to announce that ALiEMU is also now partly funded by a very generous “Fuel the FOAM” donation from The Teaching Course, led by Dr. Rob Rogers and Dr. Salim Rezaie.

One might wonder — what costs are we incurring from building ALiEMU? Because we firmly believe that education should be open-access and free for learners, monies need to come from somewhere. We have very high standards for building a digital resource which has a professional website design, customized content delivery methods, and featuring top-tier collaborators. And this takes funding. Volunteerism can only advance a project so far. A budget is necessary to cover major costs such as:

  • WordPress themes, plugins, and customer support
  • A speedy website server (no one likes a sloooooow site)
  • Consulting costs for mobile, website, graphic design, and instructional design considerations in rapid prototyping phase
  • Content experts for timely feedback and quality assurance
  • Overall site maintenance and course sustainability

Interested in helping to fund us? We’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, we’re forging ahead!

The ALiEMU team

Michelle Lin,

Founder, ALiEMU
San Francisco, CA
Michelle is the Editor-in-Chief of Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM) and featured podcaster on EM:RAP (the LIN Sessions). She is also an Endowed Chair for EM Education and Associate Professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Her interests include finding great people to collaborate with… oh, and world domination.

Chris Gaafary,

Chief of Design and Development
Chattanooga, TN
In July 2015, Chris will serve as a chief resident at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. When he isn’t working in the ED, he strives to invent creative ways to improve patient care and medical education through innovative technologies.

Andrew Grock,

Creator and Lead Editor,
ALiEM AIR Series
Los Angeles, CA
Andrew is an Assistant Editor at ALiEM, the co-creator and Lead Editor of the ALiEM AIR series, and the Resident Editor-in-Chief of the Clinical Monster Blog. After finishing residency at Kings County Hospital in June, he will be starting at UCLA – Olive View. He is fascinated by innovative curriculum design and incorporating technology to improve resident and medical student education. He spends much of his free time pursuing good food, good books, and happy trying to ride Michelle’s coat tails as she pursues world domination.

Bryan Hayes,

Creator and Lead Editor,
ALiEM Capsules Series
Baltimore, MD
Bryan is an Associate Editor for Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM), Creator and Lead Editor of the Capsules series at ALiEMU, and a featured podcaster on EM:RAP. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor and Emergency Medicine Pharmacist at University of Maryland. Bryan’s passion is taking complex pharmacology and therapeutics education to the bedside in an easy-to-understand manner.

Derek Sifford,

Technical Design
Detroit, MI
Derek is the Submission Editor for Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM) as well as the Editor-in-Chief of the HURT Registry project (www.hurtregistry.org). He is a pre-medical student at Wayne State Universitry in Detroit, Michigan striving to become a Flight Physician in the future. His interests include prehospital medicine, critical care, trauma, statistics, and the use of technology to foster growth and innovation within the field of medicine.

Nikita Joshi,

ALiEMU Advisory Board
Stanford, CA
Nikita is an Associate Editor for Academic Life in Emergency Medicine, Fellowship Director at ALiEM. She is a Clinical Instructor at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. She is passionate about medical education and technologies within medical education including social media and medical simulation. Her joys in life include going on adventures with her husband and trying to get her dog to stop jumping on her.

Teresa Chan,

ALiEMU Advisory Board
Hamilton, Ontario
Teresa is the Managing Editor of BoringEM, an Associate Editor of Academic Life in Emergency Medicine, and a Social Media Editor for the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine. She is an Assistant Professor at McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada. She has a fairly eclectic and wide ranging areas of interesting including: 1) innovations in social media teaching & learning; 2) workplace-based assessment & competency-based medical education; 3) describing and exploring physician cognition and experience.

Brent Thoma,

ALiEMU Advisory Board
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Brent is the Editor-in-Chief of BoringEM, an Associate Editor of Academic Life in Emergency Medicine, and a Social Media Editor for the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine. In July 2015 he will begin his academic career at the University of Saskatchewan as a Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Program Director. He spends much of his free time researching technology-enhanced medical education with a focus on the quality and impact of online educational resources.
Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at https://t.co/50EapJORCa Bio: https://t.co/7v7cgJqNEn
Michelle Lin, MD