Traditionally, teaching has always been a one-on-one approach, with the teacher passing their knowledge on to the apprentice. With the creation of schools and universities, large numbers of students could be taught at scale with generic programs. This was followed by the digital age when digital platforms went on to supplement teachers through sharing documents, videos, and more, with larger groups. This advanced further to the point where it was felt that the human element in teaching can altogether be done away with. This brought e-learning to the fore.
Big and established universities started putting out digitized content for the world to use. This was the beginning of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). It was to bring a revolution in education. However, presently, the completion rates of MOOCs all put together are significantly dismal compared to what was anticipated.
While MOOCs did not fare well enough, there was another attempt at reviving the model through platforms where the content could be monetized. This was the beginning of paid platforms like Udemy. To put things in perspective, this model also failed to bring in retention and conversions.
All this has brought us to a new & future trend taking over education - the Cohort-Based Courses or CBCs. Before we go any further, let’s first define CBCs.
What are Cohort Based Courses (CBC)?
This kind of learning model pertains to a group of learners joining an online course together and moving along the course at the same pace. There is an instructor who provides the structure and guidance. However, much of the learning happens through a peer-to-peer exchange, as most students share what they have learned with the group in real-time. This kind of arrangement keeps everyone motivated and encouraged throughout the course until completion. This more or less looks like the future of education.
Reasons for the Popularity of Cohort Based Courses (CBC)
Let us explore why there is considerable interest in CBC in the present online education context. More people are gravitating towards CBCs for the following reasons:
- Enhanced Participatory Approach: While joining a CBC, the learner can feel like a part of a community, team, or family. The members support you and help you navigate difficult concepts. You can even ask questions within the group. This is quite unlike other models where the individual needs to strive for themselves.
- High Level of Commitment: Enrolling in a self-paced course is quite akin to buying a book. You read a couple of pages based on the initial enthusiasm and then leave it aside. On the contrary, CBCs keep the steady motivation going because there is a sense of commitment and accountability towards the group as a whole. This brings in a fresh perspective to online learning.
Benefits of Cohort Based Courses (CBC)
CBCs are creating a new creator economy, where the scope of earning is even more apparent than previous online teaching models with efficient learning. Here we enlist the benefits of CBCs:
- Interactive Nature: With CBCs, the instructors do not feel they are sending the content out into the void. The live interaction helps keep both learners and instructors interested and has a big impact on learning among the students. With this sort of arrangement, there is effective feedback obtained by the students in real-time. Group learning also helps students remain competitive and keeps everyone on their toes while effective learning takes place.
- High Value: CBCs are always designated a higher value than self-paced and recorded courses. While it may be daunting for the instructor to prepare for the course, the impact of the course compensates for all the effort. Teachers are provided with immediate feedback, allowing them to tweak the course before offering it the next time. All CBCs come with a teacher to guide the students. Hence, students do not need to hold back from spending a high amount on the course. Still, the amount spent on CBCs is much lower than the expensive classroom-based training.
- Time Effective: Content managers and teachers can easily manage their schedules as online courses are brief and do not require hours to be spent on just one class. In fact, some of the courses may last only a couple of weeks. Hence teachers are mindful of efficient time utilization while prioritizing content for their courses. A learner is not required to spend years trying to earn a diploma when opting for a CBC. It is more about focussed skill learning and discovering a new career path altogether.
- Structured Modules: All courses in CBCs are created in a structured manner. Every lecture comes with an individual course plan and helps teachers stay on track with the course curriculum. Similarly, if a student misses out on a class, they can easily make up for it with the recordings of the missed lecture. The structure of the curriculum ensures that they remain on track with other learners in the class.
- Community Learning Approach: One of the best features of CBCs is that you embark on your learning journey along with a community of learners. Since eligibility for courses is not restricted to age, profession, or country – you get in touch with a diverse set of cohorts. This interesting mix of students creates a space for multi-ethnic and multi-cultural exchange to bring in varied and positive experiences for the learner.
Getting Started with Cohort Based Courses
If you are keen on starting teaching as a side-hustle, go ahead with a cohort-based approach. Here are some pointers to get started:
- Target Audience: You need to decide who your target audience will be and what problem you will be solving for them. When in doubt, you can always check with your ideal buyer persona.
- Course Format: You can offer the recordings of the course material and have live interactions with the students. During live sessions, you answer questions, clear doubts, and demonstrate the core skills being taught. Alternatively, you can base the entire course on live sessions where students are offered recordings of the live sessions.
- Create Course Outline: This would be a framework for the entire course and how you divide the training material into individual chapters and associated sessions.
- Choose a Course Platform: A number of platforms are available for uploading and disseminating courses. We at Airtribe consider our framework to be state-of-the-art with enough scope for creators.
- Schedule Training Sessions: Come up with a calendar and share it among your students. Have enough flexibility to accommodate any feedback from them. This can ensure they remain engaged and learning remains fun.
- Solicit Testimonials: After the completion of each batch, actively solicit testimonials from students. If possible, gather video testimonials for a better impact on future prospects.
Cohort-based courses are still a nascent category. But over time, more creators are going to embrace this online model. If the popularity of these courses is anything to go by, the trends suggest enhanced and wider acceptability for this kind of online teaching approach.
We at Airtribe are continuously looking for working domain experts who are keen on sharing/ teaching their knowledge with the aspirational student community. Alternatively, Airtribe is also keen on individuals who want to organize CBCs with their own training material. Contact us now for more details on CBCs!