Cohort Based Courses: The Future of Learning? Beyond the Panorama May 27, 2022

Cohort Based Courses: The Future of Learning?

Remember there was a time when online courses or massive open online courses (MOOCs, you didn’t know the full-form right?) were hailed to be the next big thing. Absolutely everybody sold the idea of “flexibility”, being able to consume the course at your own pace, at your own convenience as the game changer. Multiple startups forayed into the exciting space, meant to revolutionize learning as we know it.

But did it?

I believe most of us underestimated the follies the flexibility comes with.

There was no doubt that most people would appreciate the accessibility to education/information from the best teachers out there, but we underestimated the natural biological human wiring to rest and identify the path of least resistance (yes, exactly why exercising isn’t easy either). And undoubtedly it is always extra effort to watch an informative course, digest it and register it especially after expending mental energy at school, college or work alongside. There was no accountability in the process, the dark side of self-management, that holds true for absolutely anything in life. And now with easy access to entertainment, where you don’t need to digest information, and can simply watch and simulate your emotions? Let’s be honest, the learning courses don’t stand a chance and the data shows.  Every platform has its own statistics, but overall we are looking at a <9% completion rate for the courses.

You too have at least one course which you started but never finished right? Almost all of us are guilty of it.

If you’ve been on Twitter, you might have noticed another form of learning brewing, popularly known as “CBCs” or “Cohort-based courses”.

CBC’s are essentially bringing back the classroom vibes. However flawed the conventional curriculum is, the experiential model of learning is still what most people missed with the online courses so far. It’s like in college, you bunked classes if your friends bunked and vice versa. You pretty much were ready to endure boring classes for the vibe and camaraderie with your friends.

So how are the Cohort Based Courses winning slowly yet steadily? 

1. Accountability

Given you’re learning as a group, chances of you following through with the expected outcomes of the course are higher since you have so many expecting the same from you, similar to how people use social media to create an imaginary pressure and hold themselves accountable

2. Active learning

One-way communication is no fun, some banter, inside jokes, idiosyncrasies of a group, certain key events, that’s what keeps the learning process engaging; vanilla online courses absolutely lack this flavour

3. Fixed schedule

Somewhat fixed schedules with pre-defined milestones are critical to completion because of the consistent momentum; flexibility drives constant deprioritization, especially without external accountability

4. Community

Finding folks who intellectually operate in a similar spectrum aren’t easy to find, especially as adults, masters education is one of them but it does not fit for all and is extremely high barrier; CBCs solve it by getting similar (by ambitions & goals) yet diverse (by skills and experience) folks in one room which leads to great exchanges, new friendships, partnerships and more

5. High-agency individuals

Working and being around high-energy and high-agency individuals gives such a kick, they  set the bar for the room which everyone wants to match in a healthy way; given these courses aren’t cheap, you know you’re in a group of driven doers, which pushes you to do better

6. Manageable size

The biggest value proposition for CBCs is its touch of personalization, which gets lost with large groups, smaller sized cohorts ensure the information is contextualized as much as feasible making the learning all the more relatable and sticky

Cohort Based Courses have hence successfully replicated the fun bits of the classroom model and optimized on the quality of classmates which is no longer determined by your age, your geographical location, or your performance on a competitive exam.

However they aren’t really scalable, but seem to create higher impact density.

Looking to learn something, try finding a CBC maybe?

Read more from this author here.

Pranav Singhania
Pranav Singhania

Pranav writes about business, his thoughts on the world, and loves to share his tales from travels.

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