We did Micro-learning Waaaay Before it Was Cool

RLI created its first micro-learning back in 2007. We studied e-learning content delivery and chose to zig while others zagged. No talking heads (they distract learners). No actors (they lack credibility). No embedded interactivity (it’s irritating).

We use a fast-paced motion graphics/motion typography style that’s simple, clean, and always supports the learning message.

The RLI Story

In 2007, RLI founder Stephen J. Meyer and his content team set out to find a way to make soft-skills e-learning work (because all the e-learning they reviewed at the time was unwatchable). The mission was to create e-learning content that:

 

  • Is short and respects people’s time
  • Reduces cognitive overload by focusing on a single concept
  • Triggers research-driven “ahas” that create urgency to change behavior
  • Embeds learning in the work (which according to McKinsey increases knowledge retention by a factor of 6 compared to classroom training)
  • Teaches tactical skills and allows RLI to integrate with strategic leadership and sales programs such as Franklin Covey, Dale Carnegie, Blanchard, Wilson, Miller Heiman, The Challenger Sale, Richardson, etc.
  • Gives managers easy-to-use tools to coach their teams
  • Works for both new and experienced learners

 

After years of research and product development, the RLI team built online learning centers that meet these criteria. Today, RLI is a leading provider of micro-learning solutions. Our client list includes Fortune 500s, private firms, government offices, healthcare organizations, academic institutions, manufacturing companies and more.

Fun Facts About our Team

Diana, our marketing guru, can twirl four batons at once.

One of our Learning Solutions Experts, Matt, was ranked nationally for tennis when he was only 16 years old.

Between them, the guys in our marketing and editorial teams own more than 20 guitars – I know, a bit obsessive but true.

Our CEO, Steve, did a cage dive with great white sharks in the Indian Ocean.

Our VP of Marketing, Brian, has been a semi-professional musician for 35 years (and going).

Rob, our VP of Sales, went to nationals for swimming when he was 12 years old.

Michael, our VP of Editorial, won the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.

Our Senior Writer & Researcher, Mike, had perfect attendance through all four years of high school.

Jackie, one of our Learning Solutions Experts, is a proud veteran of the US Air Force and spent 3 of her 4 years in Germany decoding messages on computers that filled an entire room.

Our Marketing Coordinator, Julia, has sailed a viking ship in Denmark.

Our numbers enthusiast, Alan, once put 11,000 miles on a rental car in 28 days.

Chip, our email and web designer, can solve a Rubik's cube in under 30 seconds consistently and has a collection of over 50 different twisty puzzles.

meet the team

  • Rob Krekstein

    VP of Sales

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  • Matt Wright

    Account Development Manager

  • Jen Murphy

    Customer Service & Office Manager

  • Alan Senegeto

    Director of Analytics

  • Diana Asbury

    Marketing Manager

  • Jackie Dickisson

    Learning Solutions Expert

  • Paul McCarry

    Email Marketing Manager

  • Patrice Gaul

    Learning Solutions Expert

  • Melanie Payne

    Controller

  • Mike Catini

    Client Engagement Manager

  • Dave Clemens

    Senior Researcher & Writer

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  • Lindsay Roach

    Product Specialist

  • Matt Kaisner

    Learning Solutions Expert

  • Miranda O’Brien

    Learning Solutions Expert

  • Eugene Ewing

    Animator

  • Efrain Gonzalez

    Animator

  • Reno Roberson

    IT Support

  • Mike Llewellyn

    Senior Researcher & Writer

  • Ben Butler

    Account Development Specialist

  • Sean Gallagher

    Account Development Specialist

  • Chip Bruchez

    Designer

  • Shawn Wilson

    Business Development

  • Bethanne Yahr

    Business Development

  • Rebecca Langendorf

    Customer Service

  • Phil Pompei

    Business Development

  • Ashley Chapin

    Webinar Moderator

  • Julia Dent

    Marketing Coordinator

Former Director of Publishing at The Hay Group, a leading HR, benefits and compensation consulting firm. Meyer spent eight years at Progressive Business Publications, where he headed up both editorial and marketing. He was also a reporter at Advertising Age magazine. Meyer received his MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and has a Masters degree from the University of California, San Diego.

Formerly, Brian was a Publisher & COO for DealersEdge, a publishing, training and talent development company serving the auto dealer market. Before that he was Publisher & GM for a division of Financial Times Professional Inc. which developed and marketed management training videos, learning guides and newsletters. He has also worked as an Account Executive and creative development leader for several Philadelphia-area advertising and corporate communications agencies. He holds a BA from Juniata College and an MA in Corporate Communications from Rowan University.

Michael is a former Senior VP at Domus Inc., a Philadelphia advertising and interactive media agency. Boyette has written professional and consumer books for Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books, Henry Holt and other publishers and was Group Publisher at a leading newsletter company, overseeing its sales and marketing titles. In addition, he’s managed marketing programs for such clients as Dupont, Lutron and Therma-Tru Doors. He is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism.

Leader in information technology strategy and computers system.. Elia has grown with The Rapid Learning Institute since 2004. He holds a BS from Widener University and a MS in Information Systems from University of Denver.

Rob has extensive experience in Sales and Marketing with companies like SAP, Ventyx and most recently Kenandy. He has spoken at several conferences in his career regarding Sales Methodologies and Demand Generation tactics.  His unique experience has armed him with a vast knowledge of the entire process, from lead inception to closed sale. He is a graduate of Ithaca College where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management.

Dave Clemens has worked for newspapers, news services, magazines and specialized business publications — in print and on-line — on four continents during his 40 years as a reporter and editor.

He has served as deputy financial editor of the International Herald Tribune, based in Paris; editor and bureau chief for Bloomberg News, based in Tokyo and Singapore; and deputy bureau chief for the French news agency, Agence France-Presse, based in Harare, Zimbabwe. His work has also appeared in the magazine World Press Review, over the news and broadcast services of The Associated Press, and in several nationally recognized human resources, employment law and business newsletters.

Micro-learning:

Out with the old & in with the new

an Interview with our CEO, Stephen J Meyer

Q. Define micro-learning.

SJM: Bite-size single-concept learning for today’s short-attention-span workforce.

Q. How did you decide on 5- to 7- minute courses?

SJM: They were 6 to 10 minutes when we launched in 2009. Gradually, we whittled them down. Every medium finds its sweet spot. Sixty minutes for TV dramas. A half-hour for sit-coms. Our research, and that of an edX study of millions of users, suggests the e-learning sweet spot is about 6 minutes.

Q. Can you really learn anything useful in just 6 minutes?

SJM: That’s the wrong question. The right question is, “Can you change behavior in 6 minutes?” And the answer is of course yes. You can change a person’s behavior in five seconds if you can trigger a powerful enough response. All companies have leaders whose behavior demotivates and disengages employees. And salespeople who lose business because their behaviors trigger the wrong response in a prospect. The point of training isn’t to cram people’s brains with knowledge. It’s to motivate them, to create a sense of urgency, to change their behavior and do the right thing. Micro-learning was born to do that?

Q. How so?

SJM: Two reasons, one generic and one related to RLI’s unique approach.

The generic reason is that micro-learning breaks learning into discreet tactical skills. Many of our video titles are answers to Google searches: “How do you frame corrective feedback in a positive way?”  “How do you nail the first 20 seconds of a cold call?” Google searches seek an urgent solution in the moment of need. Micro-learning videos deliver that. You get an idea. You try out the learning concept immediately. You change your behavior.

The second reason has to do with RLI’s research-driven approach to micro-learning. Most of our videos are based on academic and institutional studies. We find really cool research from Harvard, Stanford, MIT and elsewhere on the psychology of influence and persuasion. Successful people in fields like leadership and sales have the ability to communicate far better than unsuccessful people. The massive leaps in brain science over the past two decades have given us all kinds of insights into what these successful people are doing. We find this research and apply it to the practical challenges that leaders and salespeople face every day. When we’re at our best, the videos trigger an “aha” moment where it suddenly hits you that the way you’ve been doing something – say, giving feedback to employees or handling price objections – isn’t the optimal way. And you feel a great sense of urgency to try a new way. You’re motivated to change your behavior and get better results.

Q. Does micro-learning replace legacy training models such as instructor-led training?

SJM: No. We’ve worked with 5,000 clients over the years and many were disillusioned with ILT because they invested time, effort and money and saw little impact. Many blamed the ILT model and saw micro-learning as a panacea. But they failed with micro-learning for the same reason they failed with ILT – they treated learning as an event, not a process. Nobody followed up and reinforced the learning. Which is a shame because while it’s really difficult to effectively reinforce multi-concept ILT, it’s relatively easy to reinforce single-concept micro-learning.

Over the years we’ve studied our most successful clients very carefully. Turns out dozens of them – completely independently – stumbled upon almost exactly the same deployment model for micro-learning. We codified what they were doing and called it the Micro-learning Adoption Process, or M.A.P. It’s a roadmap for deploying micro-learning successfully as a blended learning solution with managers at the epicenter of a sustained learning process.

Q. Explain the manager’s role.

SJM: Managers all know they’re supposed to develop their teams. But either they don’t know how, don’t have time, or both. What our early RLI adopters discovered was that micro-learning videos are easy-to-use coaching tools. They’re all designed to target one skill, change one behavior and achieve one desired outcome. So managers started using them to trigger one-on-one coaching sessions, and to run group coaching sessions. With ILT, the follow-up managers need to do to make learning stick seems overwhelming. With micro-learning, it seems doable.

Q. What is “thin slicing”?

SJM: “Thin slicing” is a term used in psychology to describe how human beings can perceive a narrow window of experience and from very limited information draw very powerful conclusions. This is what Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” is about. We’ve hi-jacked the term and applied it to learning. We believe it makes sense to isolate “thin slices” of learning and with very limited information provide powerful learning experiences.

Thin slicing drives our content design strategy. Most bite-size learning takes a 120-minute e-learning course and breaks it into twelve 10-minute “chunks.” That’s the opposite of what we do. Instead of starting with a big block of learning and breaking it into chunks, we start with a small “Thin slice” of learning that can trigger a powerful “aha.”

Q. Is micro-learning only for Millennials?

SJM: Nope. Our research shows that experienced workers have the same utilization rates as new hires. I think that’s because electronic devices and search engines have had the same effect on GenX-ers and Boomers that they’ve had on digital natives. We all have a Google-search approach to everything in our lives, including learning. We all want solutions in the moment of need. And we want learning embedded in the work. If I’m managing an employee with a bad attitude, I want a five-minute video that’s going to tell me the right way to respond. I’m a salesperson and need to make a cold call; I want a video to tell me how to handle the first 20 seconds of the call.

Curriculum Advisory Board

About RLI

The Rapid Learning® Institute draws upon its network of content experts to create its e-learning programs. Here is a partial list of experts we have used in the past to create online, instructor-led and audio conference training programs.

Learning & Development

  • Marie McIntyre, Ph.D.
  • ‎Career Coach, Your Office Coach
  • Atlanta, GA
  • http://www.yourofficecoach.com/

Sales

Leadership & Management

Employment Law Compliance