Cohort-based learning on the advance
Cohort-based learning (CBC – Cohort-Based Courses) is the new business model with online courses in the USA. Instead of selling online courses on third-party platforms such as Udemy, online live courses are now gaining ground. Right at the front is a new type of influencer, the knowledge influencer. Cohort-based learning turns the most successful into stars and millionaires.
David Parell is one of the pioneers with his “Write of Passage” course. Twitter is his marketing machine. Almost 200,000 followers are the basis on which he then builds leads for his newsletter and sells his courses at high prices. The live element ensures artificial scarcity and thus avoids the junk effect of platforms like Udemy.
The business model of cohort-based learning
Above all, the business model in cohort-based learning is new. Tiago Forte speaks of the fourth wave in online learning. After the so-called MOOC (Udacity), marketplaces such as Skillshare and software tools for online course creators, the fourth wave is now coming with cohort-based learning. Tiago Fort knows what he’s talking about. He himself is one of the providers of cohort-based learning. The online cohort course “Building a Second Brain” emerged from his blog about personal knowledge management.
Intensive and led by influencers, the cohorts usually last four to six weeks. A seat costs between $ 200 and $ 6,000 per person, and each new edition attracts more than 200 attendees from around the world. They cover topics such as online writing, research and knowledge management, and getting started on YouTube. The most successful vintages sell out in less than 24 hours. Waiting lists always create an artificial shortage and fill the lead pipeline.
The Youtuber Ali Abdaal is also successful. In his cohort course, The Part-Time YouTuber Academy, his followers learn how to start a YouTube channel as a side project. His course is also a mixture of live lectures, questions and answers, online communities and video content for self-study. Apparently Ali Abdaal is so successful with his course that he was able to generate over 1.3 million dollars in sales last year.
Successful knowledge influencers keep direct contact with customers with their cohort courses. And this is precisely where the disadvantage of the platforms lies for many. With Udemy & Co., providers lose their sovereignty over pricing and do not have their own customer database. And that is a big disadvantage in the long term.
The future of learning lies in learning together
Above all, the completion rates are important when it comes to evaluating learning success. Most cohort course landing pages highlight the success of previous students with certificates and testimonials. But why are cohort courses apparently more successful than purely asynchronous online courses?
According to Tiago Forte, there are four main factors that make cohort-based learning so successful: The learning community, accountability ), the interaction and the impact result.
In these factors, cohort-based learning essentially differs from (asynchronous) online courses, in which the learners are primarily on their own. We already know from school that learning is especially successful in a group. And pioneers of digital learning like Daniel Jung have been preaching for years with the learning pyramid that we learn above all when we explain the material to others.
This knowledge is increasingly gaining ground in companies where this informal learning, i.e. the exchange between employees, has always had a very high priority. But it is not easy for companies to enable this in digital formats.
There are also examples in Germany
In Germany, too, the first models of cohort-based learning have already been established. In the field of online marketing, Theo Phem mainly works with the concept of cohort-based learning in his Delta School. The OMR Academy also relies on digital live training, but (still) in translation of former face-to-face training into online live training. Incidentally, the pioneers in Germany are the providers of train-the-trainer courses. There are cohort-based courses, for example by Katharina Lewald, Caroline Preuss or Sandra Holze, for setting up your own online courses.
Most providers of cohort-based learning rely on a mixture of cloud tools for everything to do with Zoom . The work in groups then takes place, for example, through the parallel use of Slack, Miro or breakout rooms. Further extensions by third-party providers (Zoom Apps) have already been announced, but are not yet available. A useful addition is the German software reteach.io, which supports hybrid formats for cohort-based learning through the integration of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, including billing and participant management.
In addition to the technical challenges, the knowledge influencers also have to deal with the moderation. Especially with very large learning groups, the live tools with the integrated breakout rooms quickly reach their limits. However, this is not a software barrier, but a personal challenge to the knowledge influencer. Either they have to build a team of coaches as co-moderators or they just have to work more. Because the model of passive income is not as simple in practice as it is promised by many.
Managing Director of BRANDPUNKT agency and founder / author of Futurebiz.
Brandpunkt is a Berlin agency for digital brand management & social media.