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:
- Felix Ankel, MD
- Jeremy Branzetti, MD
- Andy Grock, MD (AIR Editor)
- Nikita Joshi, MD (AIR Associate Editor)
- Jay Khadpe, MD
- Michelle Lin, MD (AIR Associate Editor)
- Kasey Mekonnen, MD (AIR Intern)
- Eric Morley, MD
- Lynn Roppolo, MD
- Anand Swaminathan, MD
- Salim Rezaie, MD
- Taku Taira, MD
- 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
- 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.
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!