The Microlearning Revolution

Rapid Learning / Microlearning

Rapid Learning or Microlearning is short-form e-learning for today’s short-attention-span workforce. RLI’s modules run a maximum of 10 minutes; most are between six and eight minutes long.

Here’s why:

  • Studies show that 10 minutes is the point where adults’ attention begins to fade.
  • Neurological research has shown that the Internet – specifically search engines and YouTube – has rewired our brains and changed the way we prefer to access and absorb information. Contrary to traditional methods of instruction, our brains now want to receive information in short, disjointed bursts, mirroring an online search. RLI’s six- to 10-minute modules provide this contemporary learning experience.
  • E-learning is online video. Online video is a medium that operates under a very different set of rules than other learning vehicles. For example, the most popular videos on YouTube, viewed by a billion people each month, have an average length of four minutes. Micro Learning embraces the rules of the medium and provides modern professionals with fast-paced, bite-sized bursts of learning.


  • Sousa, D.A. (2011). How the brain learns (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
  • Carr, N. (2010). The shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
  • YouTube. (2013). Press: Statistics. Retrieved from
  • Pew Research Center. (2012). YouTube and News. Retrieved from


Single-Concept Learning

Each of RLI’s Quick Take modules focuses on a single narrow concept.

Decades of research on Cognitive Load Theory shows that too much information can overwhelm the brain’s processing and significantly diminish learning. By limiting each module to one distinct concept, we reduce the cognitive overload created by covering multiple topics in a single training event. Focused on one compelling idea, single-concept learning enhances learners’ ability to process and retain the training content.

An influential study on cognitive load demonstrates the benefits of single-concept learning. The researchers divided subjects into two groups to compare instructional methods: one group learned several new concepts as individual, discrete events (single-concept) and the second group learned the elements in an integrated way (multi-concept). In a follow-up test, the single-concept group did twice as well.


  • Sweller, J. (1994). Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learning and Instruction, 4, 295-312.
  • Oberaurer, K., et al. (2009). Accessing information in working memory: Can the focus of attention grasp two elements at the same time? Journal of Experimental Psychology, 138(1), 64-87.
  • Pollack, E., et al. (2002). Assimilating complex information. Learning and Instruction, 12, 61-86.


Research-Based Learning

Our training content is built around research studies and other authoritative sources.

Training is about behavior change, and inspiring behavior change is primarily an act of persuasion. To effectively persuade learners, training must possess validity, credibility and authority. Academic and institutional research – written by experts in their respective fields – has that weight.

The power of experts to shift opinions and behaviors has been well documented in numerous studies.
For example, in one study of expert power, researchers found that simply hanging a physical therapist’s diploma prominently in the examination room – in plain sight of patients – increased compliance by 34%.


  • Simons, H.W., et al. (2001). Persuasion in Society. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
  • Cialdini, R.B. (2001). Harnessing the science of persuasion. Harvard Business Review, 79(9), 72-79.


Testing Effect

Each Quick Take module includes a quiz and other follow-up materials. These tools aren’t designed simply to assess knowledge; they’re an integral part of the learning process itself.

RLI’s quizzes are designed to take advantage of the “testing effect.” A large body of research demonstrates that testing enhances learning and improves long-term retention. The testing effect has been proven to be more beneficial to long-term memory than both instructor-led review and repeated studying.

Tests and quizzes improve memory by causing learners to engage in retrieval practice. When learners access the information from their brains, it becomes easier to access again in the future. An RLI quiz can be reused several times throughout the learning experience to continually reinforce key information.


  • Roedinger, H.L. and Karpicke, J.D. (2006). The power of testing memory: Basic research and implications for educational practice. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(3), 181-210.
  • Agarwal, P.K., et al. (2007). Examining the testing effect with open- and closed-book tests. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 22(7), 861-876.


Spacing Effect

Quick Take modules are designed to be viewed again and again.

Nobody’s going to sit through a long e-learning module more than once. But because Quick Takes are short and focused on a single concept, they’re an ideal way for learners to refresh their knowledge on a topic. And that means better learning outcomes.

To stick in the brain’s memory, new learning content must be repeatedly reinforced. The “spacing effect” improves long-term retention through regular retrieval events spaced over the course of the learning experience. Spacing combats the effects of Ebbinghaus’s famous Forgetting Curve, which demonstrates how quickly new information is lost without repetition. RLI’s micro learning brings short, fast-paced modules which can easily be assigned to learners multiple times to provide the necessary reinforcement.


  • Bjork, R.A. (1969). Repetition and rehearsal mechanisms in models for short-term memory. Ann Arbor, MI: Human Performance Center, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.
  • Karpicke, J.D. and Roediger, H.L. (2007). Expanding retrieval practice promotes short-term retention, but equally spaced retrieval enhances long-term retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(4), 704-719.


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