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AskUp: a high-efficiency studying and learning web app

by Jonathan S. Hausmann, MD

AskUp is a free, open-source web application that leverages evidenced-based techniques to enhance learning in medical education.

Cambridge, MA Medical Education

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About this project

The problem we solve:
Medical knowledge is increasing exponentially, making it more difficult for physicians to keep up with the new literature. Unfortunately, the learning techniques that many physicians use are outdated and inefficient. For instance, re-reading and highlighting have been shown to be poorly effective. Sitting through medical lectures does not employ active learning techniques, and as a result, they are quickly forgotten. Learning through multiple-choice questions does not reflect the inherent complexity of medicine--treating patients requires critical thinking skills that are not stimulated when merely asked to select the correct answer among several choices. Evidence-based learning techniques are required to achieve the most learning in the least amount of time.

About our solution:
We developed AskUp, a high-efficiency studying and learning web app that leverages evidence-based techniques to enhance learning. AskUp is a platform that allows medical trainees and physicians to generate short-answer question and answer sets after any material—a lecture, a journal article, a patient encounter, or a CME course—transforming these experiences into active learning. Generating a question requires learners to reflect on the material and identify the most important points; writing the answer in their own words requires elaboration—both powerful and effective techniques for learning. Users can quiz themselves on this material and share their questions with others, taking advantage of the “testing effect” to enhance memory. These techniques have been shown to be among the most powerful for learning. By encouraging physicians to take active roles in their own education, AskUp promotes life-long, self-directed learning.
Progress to date: We have created the basic AskUp platform that allows learners to generate question and answer sets, share these with their classmates or colleagues, and rate them based on their quality. However, we are looking to add several features that will make the app easier to use and more effective. First. we'd like to create iPhone and Android apps to improve accessibility. Second, to further promote learning, we would like to send users questions at defined intervals, to take advantage of "spaced education." Third, we'd like users to be able to include images and references on the app. Finally, we'd like to integrate our app in various Learning Management Systems (LMS) to improve ease of use.

About Our Team

Dr. Jonathan S. Hausmann, MD
Rheumatology, Practicing Physician
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Medical school: Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Bio: Jonathan graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College, attended Mount Sinai School of Medicine where he was the top student in his class, and did his a Med-Peds residency at Brigham and Women’s / Boston Children’s Hospital. Jonathan is finishing a fellowship in pediatric and adult rheumatology at Boston Children's and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and after 28 years of education, is about to get his first real job. Had he used AskUp while studying, it wouldn't have taken him this long.
Hospital Affiliation: Boston Children's Hospital / Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Title: Fellow in pediatric and adult rheumatology
Twitter: @hausmannMD
LinkedIn: jonathan-hausmann-1714a48a

About Team Members

Elliott Yates
Software Developer, B.Sc. Engineering, M.A
Biography: Elliott works as a software developer for Harvard University Information Technology, and is interested in how technology can ease the transition to productive knowledge. He has a passion for language, teaching, and learning, and hopes to see AskUp used by and for language learners.
Katherine Loboda
Student Developer, Pursuing B.A. in Statistics
Biography: Katherine is originally from Philadelphia and is now a sophomore at Harvard University studying Statistics and Computer Science. She has been working on AskUp for over a year and particularly enjoys the technical challenges it presents, in addition to brainstorming how to create an enhanced learning experience through the product. AskUp has sparked Katherine's interest in teaching/studying, which translated into her becoming a teaching fellow for a Harvard CS class this coming fall.
Liza McPherson
Student Developer, Pursuing B.A. in Computer Science with a minor in Visual and Environmental Studies
Biography: Liza is a sophomore at Harvard from Hingham, MA, who enjoys taking classes in a wide variety of disciplines, including Mathematics, Chinese, and International Relations. She joined the AskUp team in the fall of 2015, and has found the opportunity to participate in the ideation process of a developing product as rewarding as writing the code to implement its features. She is looking forward to tutoring underclassmen in CS and encouraging more women to pursue careers in the technology industry.
Jiayun Fang
Software Engineer, Computer Science AB at Harvard College
Biography: JN will graduate from Harvard in May 2016 with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. She has had a vested interest in educational technology as a past TFA Fellow, CS50 Course Assistant, and future software engineer at Coursera.

About Our Company

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Twitter: @GoAskUp
Product stage: proto
Sales: Working on it
Employees: 5-10

How We Help Education

The expansion of medical knowledge will require future physicians to become more efficient and productive learners. Despite advancements in medicine, physicians employ antiquated and ineffective learning strategies. We are developing AskUp, a collaborative studying and learning platform that uses evidence-based principles to promote active learning. AskUp is a free, open-source web app that encourages medical students and physicians to generate open-ended question and answer sets based on any material— lectures, journal articles, patient encounters, etc. Generating and answering questions requires retrieving information from memory, reflecting on this material, and elaborating an answer in your own words—processes that enhance long-term learning and retention. Users can quiz themselves on these questions and share them with their peers, leveraging the testing effect. By encouraging physicians to take active roles in their own education, AskUp promotes life-long, self-directed learning.

Challenge Mission

Mission: Advances in medicine will require physicians to learn vast amounts of new knowledge. AskUp will help medical trainees and physicians become efficient, productive, and self-directed learners.
Use of funds: We would like every medical student and physician from around the world to have free, lifetime access to AskUp. We will use the funds to support our student developers to continue adding features to AskUp, including iOS and Android apps, integration into several learning management systems (LMS), ability to add images and references, and ability to send questions directly to a user's mailbox. We will also need to purchase a more powerful web hosting platform to handle increased traffic and store the questions in a question-bank.
Intellectual Property Status: Our project is free and open-source software. The code for our product can be found in GitHub, and we encourage others to help make AskUp even better.
FDA Status: Not applicable.
Personal Message: The purpose of AskUp is to train medical students and physicians to become more efficient and productive learners. Ultimately, these learning skills will create better doctors who will be able to provide better care for their patients.


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    05/21/2016 Dr. Ryan Ribeira - Physician

    Liked the project.

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    05/05/2016 Mr. Francis Deng - Medical Student

    Interested in partnership.

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    05/05/2016 Yijia Li - Private

    Liked the project.

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    05/05/2016 Mr. Francis Deng - Medical Student

    Followed the project.

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    05/05/2016 Jeffrey Gluckstein - Private

    Followed the project.

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    05/02/2016 Dr. Jonathan S. Hausmann - Physician

    Liked the project.













Jonathan S. Hausmann, MD
Fellow in pediatric and adult rheumatology
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

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