An Interview with CLI partner Susan Cain, Ed.D. by Jessica Jager

Rapid Learning is a concept that involves the idea that you can learn skills faster. At the Corporate Learning Institute we use a Rapid Learning model for much of our training and coaching services. The model can be viewed below:

accelerated learning


What is the History or Research on Accelerated Learning?

Accelerated Learning is commonly known as a process for adult learners to receive college credit in a shorter amount of time than the traditional 16-week semesters (Boyd). Many Universities across the U.S. now have accelerated learning programs available for adult learners.

There are two definitions that are used when defining accelerated learning. One, thinking of accelerated learning in reference to time. This suggests that the courses or sessions will be shorter than normal. The second definition, is that the learning is both active and complete. This approach increases learning that can be achieved in any given time frame. A few examples are, small group work, collaboration, and different creative class activities. (Lee, Horsfall)

How does CLI use accelerated learning to benefit your clients?

Cain: We use a Rapid Learning approach for many of our services. Most of our clients have limited time and yet a tremendous need to build skills for employees. We have responded by creating coaching and training services that help people learn faster, retain the knowledge learned, and transfer it to their job.

Can you give us a few examples?

Cain: Sure. We have created a Rapid Learning Workshop Series. Each workshop is 2 hours long, but quickly moves participants toward understanding and using critical work skills such as: coaching others, working collaboratively, managing priorities, giving effective feedback, delegating, and managing projects.

In our coaching practice, we have developed a similar approach that involves helping coachee’s recognize their strengths, challenges, and opportunities for growth. We coach hundreds of people a year and employ the same rapid learning process to our coaching.

Why do you think accelerated learning is effective for training and coaching?

Cain: We live in the information age. We are experiencing unprecedented speeds of information flow and delivery. Essentially what is happening is that we are all doing more with less time. That requires us to adapt by learning to sort through information and determine what is important to attend to more frequently than ever before. In addition, the expectations have risen requiring all of us to learn faster and apply knowledge quickly. While there is great wisdom in helping people balance and push back on these new realities, the speed of information is here to stay.

We have adapted training, coaching, and our strategic thinking services to match this new normal. Human beings learn best when they are not in a force-fit situation. So, we have designed training and coaching that slows down the clock to let people learn in a more productive way. For example, in our training sessions we introduce concepts or skills and allow time for discussion, questions, and learning applications.

We prepare learners with information prior to our sessions; much like the marketing world prepares people to buy products. We “prime” our learners with useful information so that they can be more prepared to jump in and learn at the session. We have mastered the art of creating a sense of positive urgency in our Rapid Learning Services so that learners feel that the subject matter is important and useful, and not forced.

Accelerated Learning


Where can I learn more about how to create accelerate learning in my own organization?

Cain: I recently wrote a blog post on accelerated learning, Accelerated Learning for Busy People, which features a case study on accelerating trust in a team building training session. You can also check out our Rapid Learning Workshop Series Flyer to get an idea of the work CLI does for clients all over the Chicagoland area.

The Corporate Learning Institute adopted “accelerated learning” to create this Rapid Learning Workshop Series with their clients’ needs in mind. Their clients needed an option that saves them time, but is just as effective as traditional training and coaching.

Rapid Learning applies to both of the definitions listed above. CLI’s Rapid Learning sessions are only 1.5 to 2 hours long compared to traditional training, where they choose from a half day (4hrs), full day (8hr), or even multiple days. This allows the clients to save time without taking away essential learning outcomes.

References and Further Reading:

Boyd, D. (2004). Effective Teaching in Accelerated Learning Programs. Adult Learning, 15(1/2), 40-43.

Lee, N., & Horsfall, B. (2010). Accelerated Learning: A Study of Faculty and Student Experiences. Innovative Higher Education, 35(3), 191-202. doi:10.1007/s10755-010-9141-0

For more information contact Susan Cain at



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