Cohort-based courses are the niche that you need to create for yourself.

What is a Cohort-Based Course- A Guide

Published: 06:22AM 25 October 2021

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Alfisha Sabri

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Are you making killer content for social media and struggling to make enough money out of your side hustle? Well, you're not alone, creators around the world are doing phenomenal work and putting their content for free on YouTube, Instagram and yet only less than 5% make any real money.

In today's world and age, knowledge is easily accessible with all kinds of paid and unpaid courses specialized in all fields. This makes it difficult for creators to monetize their knowledge and make a living off their expertise only.

In the middle of all these free or cheap courses and tutorials available on different platforms, you must try to build a niche. As talked about by Li Jin, instead of gaining 100K followers and making money from cheap $20 on-demand courses, you could go for 1K followers and drive real impact with focused $1,000 courses for your super fans.

Image credits- Andreessen Horowitz
Image credits- Andreessen Horowitz

So Don't On-Demand Courses Drive Impact?

According to Wes Kao, the co-founder of Maven, this abundance of knowledge is only decreasing the participation and actual learning rate of the students, a problem that cohorts seem to be solving to a great extent.

Preetam Nath defines cohorts as time-based courses with a defined syllabus and goal that enroll only a particular number of students that complete the course while forming a community of like-minded individuals- their cohort-mates.

Cohorts work through collective learning and growth and promise and prove to give better results. That's why they are an important way creators and educators can deliver quality education for what it might be worth.

Image credits- LinkedIn

Given below is a short guide to the features of cohort-based courses (CBCs) that will help you get a clearer picture in mind and build one for yourself-

  • A live outcome-driven course for a group of like-minded individuals

Cohort-based courses make the students work towards a goal, in a limited amount of time. The time restraint makes them do things by the given deadline and hence pushes them towards the goal faster.

As opposed to self-paced courses on platforms like Coursera and Udemy where students sign up individually and go through the learning alone, in cohort-based courses students learn through interaction with their peers.

For example, writing expert David Perell's cohort-based course on accelerating your career by writing online promises a complete before and after transformation journey.

Image credits- Justinmind
Image credits- Justinmind
  • Has a developed system for goal setting & progress measurement

As mentioned above, cohort-based courses have a goal set that needs to be completed in a given amount of time. Plus, there is a system-defined to measure the success of the achievement of that goal.

Any sort of successful outcome-driven course must have a way to measure performance. For example, Harvard has grading; AA has a weekly chip you get for being clean.

  • Engages students with experiential and project-based learning

Since cohort-based courses operate in real-time and are conducted through live classes, they allow so much room to learn through various kinds of practical activities. These are usually done in pairs or groups to enhance community learning and growing with each other.

Image credits- Business 2 Community
Image credits- Business 2 Community
  • Led by industry experts/doers

These courses have a planned syllabus, schedule, and structure, and in such a way that the students get the best without missing out on anything. They are taught and mentored by individuals who are experts & have done that activity in the past. These experts are also course advisors and often also act as one-to-one mentors for the students.

Some of the experts that are not involved directly and throughout the duration are also invited as guest lecturers or speakers to share their stories, lessons learned, experiences with the students. They can also answer questions from an industry expert’s point of view. This promotes a wholesome learning experience and also builds connections for the future.

  • 70% focus is on "HOW?"

A goal-oriented course, CBC prepares students for "how" to do certain things instead of "what" that thing is, or "why" it needs to be done. While teaching the "how," some time is dedicated to the "what" and "why," but that isn't the main focus. A practical hands-on learning experience helps with this.

A simple example, a CBC on losing 5 kgs in 30 days shouldn't educate one about "why" losing weight and being healthy is necessary, but mostly on "how" to do it.

  • It encourages and demands discussions and interactions

Focused on community-based learning, a CBC's aim is also to build a network among all the peers for their time in and beyond the duration of the course. As a means for that, it encourages all students to have discussions with their peers.

Image credits- eLearning Industry
Image credits- eLearning Industry
  • It has demo days and presentations

For the purpose of closure and also to evaluate the success and progress of the students, the course often includes some kind of assessment. A presentation, or performance through which the educator, the peers, and also the student can know how far they have come to their goal.

As Wes Kao says, "People pay for what is scarce, and right now it is cohorts." CBCs might just be the opportunity for you to explore and challenge your potential as an educator and deliver to the best of your capabilities. It is also a much better way to monetize your knowledge and expertise.

The above was a short introduction to cohort-based courses and a guide to some of its many features. For more such informative articles, visit SocialBoat’s blog here.

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