ear cohort course instructor! We wrote this blog post specially for you. Glad to have you here 🙂
In this detailed post, EducateMe team will throw light on what cohort-based learning is, how to create a cohort-based course, and top tips to make it successful. Let’s get started.
What is a cohort program
A cohort program refers to a group of students who take a course to learn the same content within the same time period. The students start and end the class together as a group. Cohort-based collaborative learning has been found to be more engaging and impactful than the passive learning approach of Mass Online Open Course (MOOC) model.
Unlike MOOC, where students take courses and learn individually at their own time and pace, cohort-based learning promotes close collaboration.
It is no longer news that cohort learning programs are transforming online education/training worldwide. Data has shown that learning within a cohort environment significantly increase the completion and success rates of students due to the interaction and accountability it fosters.
Cohort-based learning has numerous benefits, a few of which include the following:
- The group learning atmosphere helps students strive to make progress together with their colleagues and not lag behind in the coursework.
- As a result of close interactions, the online cohort learning environment increases the course completion and success rates of participants.
- The collaborative nature of learning enhances feedback from students and drives improvements that address learning gaps.
Despite its enormous benefits, many instructors increasingly struggle to create cohort-based courses.
So, how to create a cohort based course?
Creae a cohort-based course (especially first one ☺️) is an exciting process you’ll love. You will definitely need some inspiration and guidance to go through the entire process. Below are the steps to follow to build a cohort based course successfully.
#1. Define the course’s purpose
Defining the purpose of your course is one of the essential factors you must address as a course creator. To appropriately define the purpose, you need to provide good answers to key questions like:
- Why do I want to create a cohort based course?
- What group of people is this course meant for?
- What’s the core problem I want to solve with it?
- What impact would it make on the students who complete the course?
After getting clear answers to these questions, you move on to the next step.
#2. Build your curriculum
To build a curriculum, you need to be sure about what to teach and how deep you want to go with teaching it. Your curriculum should be shaped by your specific plans for points below.
- The learning path and topics you want to teach in each module.
- The learning outcomes after each session.
- What parts of the course should be taken together as a group, and what parts should be self-paced.
- Fun and gamified activities to keep students engaged during breaks between lessons.
After figuring out the curriculum plan, you should ensure it is not overstuffed with unnecessary content. Keep the course focused, valuable, as engaging as possible, and within a set time frame.
#3. Choose the format for lesson delivery
There are a number of ways to teach the lessons in your course. However, most of the lessons will be delivered through videos. You have to decide whether they will be live or pre-recorded videos. You can also make use of slides to teach in a live webinar or give the course materials to students to study on their own. Then later, host a live class to have conversations about the topic and take questions.
As you decide on the course delivery format, remember that your students may have different choices about the learning format they prefer. Some may find reading materials preferable, while others prefer learning through the use of visuals. It is best to create your course using many formats. This ensures your course takes care of the needs of students with all kinds of learning preferences. EducateMe’s powerful cohort based course software can help you store and deliver your course content in multiple formats.
It is also a good idea to put homework, tests, and examinations in different formats. Don’t forget to ask for students’ feedback about their most preferred format(s).
#4. Schedule your cohort learning sessions
Planning and scheduling your classes is the next step to build a cohort based course. Get a special calendar and mark all the important dates you intend to carry out specific activities for your learning program. You need to specify the different times for lectures, group discussions, Q&A sessions, tests, coaching sessions, student presentations, homework deadlines, examinations, etc.
Using a scheduling calendar and making it available to your students makes them aware of the entire class schedule. It also prepares their minds for the different sessions and gives a feeling of accountability on their part.
#5. Use online tools for support
There are several online tools and platforms that could aid the smooth running of your cohort course. You may want to take advantage of them to make your job easier. Some of them are:
Zoom is one of the most popular and easy-to-use tools you can use for video calls with your students. With Zoom, you are able to share your screen, identify who is speaking at a particular time, and even record your call sessions. It is available worldwide.
▪️ Google Calendar
This tool helps you to be more organized. You share all your planned events and important dates with your students. It is easy to create a specific calendar for your student group, share it, and have it added to their calendars. Google Calendar is free and accessible to everybody online using a basic Gmail account.
▪️ Google Forms
This is one of the best tools available to get feedback from your students. With its ease of use and accessibility, your students can give multiple feedback without hassle. It's an essential tool for course creators.
▪️Grow a community
Investing your time and resources to build a strong student community based on your cohort course is key to having a successful outcome. Because your students are the focus, you have to give them a good platform to connect and interact as they learn. You can use tools like Discord or a Facebook Group to build and grow a private community of your cohort students.
Top tips for running a cohort-based course
Cohort-based learning model is an excellent way to help students acquire knowledge and development skills. Creating a cohort based course puts you in a good position to provide all the support and assistance your student may need to succeed. Apart from empowering others with your knowledge and ideas, your cohort-based online course also helps you get expert-status recognition in your industry. Here are some top tips to ensure you create cohort-based course that will succeed.
- 💡 Have a comprehensive plan in place. Your detailed plan must include the best ways to deliver your lessons and the transformation you expect your students to experience at the end of the class.
- 💡 Ensure the cohort size is easy for you to manage. It's preferable to have a smaller cohort for a start and increase the numbers subsequently. When the cohort size is beyond a certain number, you may overstretch yourself and won't have sufficient time to attend to each student.
- 💡 Make sure reliable support is available throughout the course. You should clearly inform your students about the nature of support or assistance they can expect to get from you. A support channel in the form of a community within the course platform, on discord, or a Facebook group, must be in place and function actively.
- 💡 Set up a feedback channel which could be on a one-to-one basis or through a group. This could involve things like students providing screenshots or a form of report summarizing their progress on specific course tasks. You then review their submissions and give feedback accordingly using the same channel.
When is the best time of year to start a cohort-based course?
The goal of cohort-based learning is to provide students with a more organized and collaborative learning experience by allowing them to begin and end a course within a specific period. Due to this fact, cohort-based courses always have fixed dates for starting and ending.
Enrollment for the courses usually takes place once or twice each year. From the experience of numerous cohort-based course creators, the best months of the time to launch a cohort learning course are January and September. Check out the best six best cohort based learning platforms where you can start your cohort-based course.
When is the worst time of year to start a cohort-based course?
Avoid starting your cohort based course any time in the summer. People basically have a lot of activities and things to do in the summer months, and they wouldn't want to start something new unless it is absolutely necessary. It’s best to stick with January or September after summer to start your cohort courses.
How to structure a live online course on EducateMe? 🤔
We prepared 7 simple steps of how to launch a live online course:
1️⃣ Add your company’s branding
You can do it using the “Company Settings” page.
What can be customized on the platform:
- Primary color - accent color of all main call-to-actions and important elements;
- Shapes of buttons - You can do it by changing the value of “Border Radius”;
- Customize the fonts - you can upload your fonts to the platform - Bold/Regular;
- Your company logo - you can add your company logo to the platform and it will be visible in the navigation menu, emails, sign-in/sign-up page;
- You can also connect your domain to the platform. The documentation about that can be found How to connect your domain;
- Sign in / Sign up page - We can also customize these two pages according to your company’s branding.
2️⃣ Create a program and fill it with lessons and materials
In order to create a new program, you need to navigate to the Programs page on the platform and press the button “Create program”.
After adding a program name, assigning instructors, and the preview image, the program will be created and you can navigate to its materials.
On the lesson details page you can:
- Create a module. A module can be filled with lessons
- Create a lesson. You can create a new lesson and connect it to a module
- Structure lesson materials. The documentation about lesson materials can Materials Management System
You can also add Home assignments related to the lesson. Your students will be able to see it on their Assignments board.
After your program is ready, this is the highest time to create a new cohort & set the calendar for the cohort 📅
3️⃣ Connect your Zoom account
There are two ways of hosting meetings on the EducateMe platform:
- Zoom integration
- Jitsi - web-based approach
Jitsi option is set by default, by it’s pretty easy to connect your Zoom accounts to the platform
Documentation about the integration can be found here Zoom integration
You can connect your zoom accounts on the “Webinar Settings” page. There are no limitations with connected accounts amount.
This integration allows you to:
- Session recordings automatically being saved in Files Library and connected to the lesson materials
- The platform is tracking how much time each participant spent in the meeting. It allows the creation of attendance reports
- Reminders and feedback emails are sent automatically to all meeting participants at the appropriate time
4️⃣ Create a new cohort & set a calendar for it 📅
In order to create a new cohort, you need to navigate to the “Cohorts page” and press the button “Add cohort”
The new popup will appear with the basic settings of the cohort that is being created:
- Cohort name
- Starting date - the kick-off date of the cohort
- Access type to lessons:
- All lessons are available for students
- Current and previous modules' lessons are available
- Current and previous lessons are available
- Recording Access - If access to recordings can be expired for students
- Assigned instructors of the cohort. If you have created instructors, you can assign them. Or you can invite new instructors.
After you added all the needed information, press the button “Create” and a new cohort will be added.
After this step, you can set up the calendar for the created cohort. You can do it by pressing the “Manage Calendar” button on your cohort.
The calendar of the cohort will appear, and it includes two blocks:
- The section with the lessons list
- The calendar itself with your cohort’s live sessions
This screen should look like this ⬇️
You can connect your lessons to live sessions. In order to do that you need to drag&drop a lesson to the needed date. That’s it, the session is created (zoom link is automatically generated) and connected to the cohort.
If you aren't supposed to have the lesson as a live session, you can also schedule a content opening of a lesson for students. In order to do that, after dropping the lesson to a needed day, choose the “Content Opens” option and set the date when it’s gonna happen.
5️⃣ Invite your students & instructors to the platform
The program is created, and the calendar is set. It seems to be the highest time to invite your students to the platform.
In order to do that, you need to navigate to the “Cohorts Page” and press the button “Manage Students”
You can add your students in different ways:
- Via email 💌
- Via sharable link 🔗
- Bulk uploading from CSV file 🗃️
In order to invite instructors (mentors) to the platform, you should navigate to the “Team page” and press the button “Invite to team” and choose the “Instructor” option.
6️⃣ Launch your community
There is an ability to launch students’ communities on the platform using a built-in messenger.
You can gather students into groups where they can discuss some important questions about the course and communicate with each other.
In a chat, there is an ability also to make a call with all the participants, in order to do that, you need to press the “Join Meeting” button.
7️⃣ Enjoy your company’s growth and students’ results
Congratulations 🎊🏆 Your course is ready & published. Now is the highest time to watch the course results. There are many important things that you can track on the platform automatically:
- Live session attendance - there is an ability to track who joined a session, time of joining
- Students’ usage of the platform - the platform automatically analyses how much time students spent and on which exact pages. These reports are available in the cohort’s analytics as well as on the Dashboard page
- Drop-out rate of each student. There are 3 different types of drop-out rates:
- Active learner 👍 - was active within the last 5 days
- Medium activity 😐 - was active more than 5 days ago, but less than 7 days ago.
- Law activity 🚩 - was active more than 7 days ago. This report is accessible on the student manage page of a batch
- Reports with visited meetings, done assignments, lessons completed. This data has each participant and it can be checked in the participants’ details.
Cohort-based courses have proven to be more effective for online learning. Planning, building, promoting, and delivering your cohort-based course will take a lot of time, effort, resources, care, and the right cohort based course software.
Want to create a cohort based course?
EducateMe’s cohort based course platform has all the powerful features you need to create and make your course a huge success. We provide reliable support to guide you before, during, and after your course launch.