With a global market that is predicted to grow to $1 trillion in 2027, online learning is a booming industry, and cohort courses are becoming increasingly sought after within business communities.
If you haven’t run across the term yet, a cohort course is an online course that is delivered to a group of learners and completed over a set time period. Cohort courses differ from self-paced learning or on-demand courses which require a high level of commitment, self-motivation, and dedication.
In fact, self-paced courses frequently have completion rates of just 3%, while cohort-based courses often achieve rates of over 90%.
Learners who attend a cohort course are committed to a fixed start and end date, and the course will follow a predetermined schedule. During course sessions, students have the opportunity to interact with one another and with the instructor or course leader.
This sense of community in an educational setting can be transformative, supporting better course engagement while creating an environment of inclusivity and a feeling of being valued among learners.
With growth continuing on an upward trend, cohort-based courses are likely to be used increasingly for personal advancement and education in areas like career guidance and hiring.
Their ability to target hyper and micro-niche audiences means that cohort courses can tap into communities that are too small to be addressed by traditional learning institutions and platforms.
Designing a cohort course
Creating a cohort course can be an excellent opportunity for income generation. However, there are a number of factors to consider and your course will need to be attractive, engaging, and marketed to the correct audience.
Everything from design to delivery method can influence the success of your cohort course, and course designers will need to be aware of multiple components when creating their material.
To ensure that the course aligns with your target audience’s needs, research the market to gauge demand. Use social media accounts to conduct surveys or polls, or organize focus groups to get a better understanding of the market.
If your chosen topic stimulates little to no interest it may be worth changing track and looking elsewhere until you find something that hits. At this stage, it is important to not be too invested in the content you want to deliver instead, be guided by the feedback you receive.
Cohort courses can be designed around almost anything providing there is an interest. Choose a topic that allows you to share your own expertise and aim to deliver high-quality content.
Defining the learning outcomes is crucial to the success of your cohort course. Learning outcomes are specific goals that you want your students to achieve by the end of the course. These outcomes should be measurable, achievable, and relevant to the course topic.
When defining the learning outcomes, consider the skills and knowledge that learners will gain and how the information will be digested. Bloom's Taxonomy is a system used in education, to define and assess learning outcomes.
Choosing a delivery platform is important for the success of your cohort course. Whichever one you select should be user-friendly, easy to navigate, and offer features such as interactive tools and exercises.
There are many platforms that offer all-in-one solutions and dedicated course design features such as Maven, Kajabi, and Thinkific. Consider cost, ease of use, and the platform's ability to scale as your cohort grows larger.
Developing high-quality course content is essential and will be responsible in part, for the success of your cohort course. content should be engaging, interactive, and targeted to learning outcomes and goals.
Consider the level of detail and the pace of learning. Course material should be easily digestible and not overwhelming, and the method of delivery may be influenced by the type of material being shared.
Tools like online presentations, videos, and interactive elements are helpful for communicating information and sharing course material with students.
Determining the course duration is crucial to the success of your cohort course. Consider the complexity of the material, the pace of learning, and the amount of time learners are likely to commit to the course.
The ideal course duration should be long enough to cover the material but short enough to keep learners engaged.
Determining the pricing structure is crucial to the success of your cohort course. Consider the cost of developing the course content, the time you will spend delivering the course, and the value that learners will receive.
According to Creative Mind Class, an online teaching platform, the average price for an online course averages anywhere from $5 to $350. However, the price may vary depending on the course topic and the target audience.
Discounts for things like advance registration and tiered pricing may also be considered when selecting pricing levels.
Developing a marketing plan is essential to the success of your cohort course. Consider using social media, email marketing, and paid advertising to reach your target audience.
When developing your marketing plan, consider the target audience, the course topic, and the benefits of taking the course and collaborate with other influencers and affiliates to increase visibility.
Once your course is ready it is time to deliver the content and engage with your group of students. Start with a kickoff call to introduce yourself, establish expectations, detail course progression, and answer questions.
During the course, provide regular feedback and support to learners. Invite group discussions and collaborations to increase engagement and create a sense of community.
Post delivery, a course evaluation will be crucial to identify any gaps or areas for improvement. Collect feedback from learners and course participants through polls, surveys, or Q&A groups.
Analytics may be provided by your course platform, use them to track learner engagement and progress. This can help to identify areas of the course that require improvement or that are unclear.
Using the feedback gathered to refine and improve the course. If needed, make changes to the content and delivery methods to increase engagement and success.
Risks of selling cohort courses
Starting your own cohort course brings opportunity, but there are also some risks. The naysayers complain that cohort courses are expensive, and that they still require self-discipline to some degree.
There is investment needed, developing an entire course is no small feat, and there is the possibility of course burnout as material becomes less attractive or content becomes dated over time.
As courses rely heavily on communication and interaction between students, less engaged participants may have the effect of disrupting the course and tarnishing the learning experience for other students. Then there is always the risk of technology failure.
Problems can occur with your own digital assets or even worse, the platform your are using to for course delivery encounters technical issues or blackout. If problems are not managed effectively, they could lead to student disappointment and dissatisfaction.
However, with global ed-tech funding seeing an 6x growth since 2014 the need for cohort-based learning is likely to continue.
How cohort courses are likely to evolve
As the business landscape changes and cohort-based learning grows, it is likely that certain trends will emerge around cohort courses as their value becomes more recognized across the wider business community.
These could include -
Increased adoption by businesses and organisations
As corporations see the value in smaller, collective learning, there could be a move towards using more cohort-based teaching methods in the workplace. Employees will benefit from mentorship and collaborative training to learn new techniques and skills
Cohort communities will emerge
Courses that connect like-minded people will likely create communities that remain connected after course completion. This may give rise to financial opportunities for course leaders like paid subscriptions and lifetime memberships.
Emergence of mixed and blended courses
As the demand for accessible knowledge rises, there may be room for mixed learning protocols. For example, a blend of cohort and self-paced study could address the needs of specific groups.
Use of cohort courses for professional advancement
Highly targeted cohort courses may be used by business professionals to achieve positive outcomes for complex career topics or to successfully pass industry exams.
More courses developed by industry experts
As the market grows, more experienced and knowledgeable experts could enter the cohort training arena to share their expertise with groups of learners.
More cohort teaching platforms and financial options
As the number of courses being developed increases, so too will delivery platforms. To satisfy demand and cater to a broader market, this may also mean that payment options will be offered such as instalment plans or staggered fees.
With technological advanc,es more sophisticated tools and webportals developed specifically for cohort-based training will emerge. Dedicated platforms could include features like virtual classrooms, interactive simulations, and personalized learning paths driven by AI tools.
As machine learning and automation accelerate there is likely to be an increased focus on lifelong learning and continuous development, to help students adequately meet business and technological changes.
Cohort-based training is well-suited to people from all backgrounds and abilities, and its synchronous and asynchronous approach to learning promotes accessibility and inclusivity while keeping pace with industry developments across business sectors.