Cohort-based courses get their fame during the pandemic when education shifted to online learning. According to research, it works well compared to MOOCs. However, this model is hard to scale. Fortunately, there’s another way to make it scalable—it's through a hybrid cohort-based course model.
The cohort-based course (CBC) or cohort-based learning (CBL) format is here to stay. But due to its hands-on characteristics, scaling your course and eLearning business won't be that easy. Yes, it is transformative. But keep in mind that digital products should be scalable and optimized.
Today, let’s explore what are the benefits and challenges of a CBC, what 'hybrid' means, and how you can scale your course through the hybrid cohort-based course model.
Benefits of a Cohort-based Course
Better for your students
I couldn't point this out enough. Cohort-based courses can transform your students from 0-1 if you design your course curriculum correctly. CBCs allow students to collaborate, discuss, and learn from each other which makes CBC the best for online learning. Experts say it's the future of online education. It's congruent to the Education 3.0 formula. There's no better way to learn online other than using a cohort-based learning model.
Better for your business
Cohort-based courses are both profitable and marketable. As a course creator or a Bootcamp founder, you can charge your CBCs more than you can charge a MOOC. Why? Because of its hands-on learning activities and a collaborative learning experience with peers. The higher the transformation, the more profit you will gain.
If you sell a MOOC for $15 in a popular marketplace, you can sell your cohort-based course 10x more than your MOOC. Normally, a cohort-based course price varies between $100 to $5000 depending on the topic, duration, format, and how many positive stories you have.
Cohort-based courses are also easy to sell and start. You may start with 20-30 students in your first cohort. Experiment with them. Ask for feedback. Then reiterate. After the first cohort, you can gather testimonials and get referrals from your students. If they like your course, they will surely tell it to everyone they know. All you need is to set up your second cohort.
Challenges of a Cohort-based learning
Too much hands-on work
Live learning creates too much hands-on work for instructors. Imagine, you are a part-time professor and you have a full-time job. You get to prepare the lesson plan, teach for 5-10hrs per week, check assignments, plan a social activity, etc. This sounds super busy, right?
In CBCs with pure synchronous live sessions, instructors need to put more time. This is not just in live classes but also with offline work like community building, class reviews, networking activities, etc.
Less than 50 students are enough
Ideally, the number of students in a cohort should be 20 to 50. More than 50 is too hard to handle if you're running everything synchronously. That's why most cohort-based courses aren't scalable. It's hard to scale if you are only playing with synchronous or live sessions.
These are just some of the cons which prohibit you to scale. That's why a new model for this kind of course model is what we recommend.
What is a Hybrid Cohort-based Course?
Hybrid means "having or produced by a combination of two or more distinct elements."
A cohort-based course is where students learn a specific topic together in live sessions, led by an instructor. Check out this Complete Guide 2022 on how you can start your own cohort-based course.
While some called it semi-synchronous collaborative learning, we call it a hybrid cohort-based course. In the simplest term, it's a cohort-based course that is mixed up with asynchronous and synchronous sessions. Due to some of the cohort-based courses' disadvantages, using a hybrid model works well to make it scalable.
However, in the world of L&D, the hybrid doesn't only pertain to asynchronous and synchronous approaches. They can also be...
How does 'Hybrid' Work?
- Asynchronous & Synchronous. It's where you conduct your lessons both in live sessions and with pre-recorded videos or online materials. This format works very well if you want to scale your course. I will walk you through later on how you can apply this to your course or training.
- Online & In-person. Also called the 'blended learning approach'. You can conduct an online class for discussions and lectures. And if you have exercises, activities, or presentations that need physical connection, you may conduct these in an in-person setup.
- Traditional & Flipped Classroom. Traditional classroom is where students learn theory in the classes, while flipped classroom is where students learn theory by themselves and discussed or practice the theory in classroom. Hybrid classes can also mean these two, mixing up the traditional and flipped classroom style can help students learn better depending on your course topic and course format.
- Lecture-based & Student centered. Who's leading the discussion of your classes? You or your students? Lecture-based is more of you, as an instructor or trainer is likely to lead the discussion. With student centered, you let your students lead and you are more of a facilitator. You can also mix these two to get a better learning result of your students.
In this article, we’re going to focus on how to use the hybrid cohort-based course model by mixing up asynchronous and synchronous learning.
How to Make Your Course Scalable Using a Hybrid Cohort-Based Course Model
Optimizing your course equates to scalability. Let's list down actionable tips on how you can make your courses scalable using this so-called hybrid cohort-based course model.
70-30 mixture of asynchronous and synchronous learning
A successful and scalable cohort-based course is not just mixing up these two formats together. There's a formula that can work well for your courses or eLearning business.
70% asynchronous learning (self-paced learning). As a course creator, educator, or corporate trainer--I bet you already have content materials that are ready to be consumed by your students. Whether this content is from your MOOCs, lesson plans, training materials, etc in different formats (SCORM file, video, PDF, texts, slides, etc.,)
The good news is you can reuse them for your hybrid cohort-based course model. In this way, you can compose 70% of the course with content you already have by creating the curriculum quickly and 30% by adding live sessions.
In addition, here are tips to make asynchronous learning more engaging:
- use videos from other sources such as Youtube, Vimeo, or your own pre-recorded videos. Remember, videos get more engagement and retain knowledge than text and photos.
- case studies drive class discussions. Give them examples, assignments in form of simulations and games. Challenging them a bit will spark motivation and knowledge retention.
- add an online learning community for asynchronous discussions, peer-to-peer learning and other activities.
- use peer review to increase engagement.
30% synchronous learning (live sessions). A cohort-based course's secret formula is the live and collaborative sessions during classes. Self-paced courses such as MOOCs failed to work well because of the lack of collaborative learning. Designing your course with 30% live classes can boost the learner experience. Mixing these two up will likely balance your course curriculum.
Here are tips on how to make your synchronous sessions engaging:
- start with a get-to-know each other or networking sessions. Your students are best when they learn from and with peers. Social learning is key.
- organize at least 1 live class each week to tackle the asynchronous content, assignments, and games you have provided to them for the week.
- invite guest speakers so you don't need to teach everything, and not everything will come from you.
- give them prompt each week along with the live class. Gamify and make it a group work to increase peer-to-peer learning.
Automate and Optimize.
Now that you have your reusable content in your hands, plus you have identified your course duration and schedule--the next thing to do is to put these in one place.
Some course creators, bootcamp founders, and corporate trainers still use different platforms in their courses despite the thousands of learning platforms available in the web today. If you are one of them, I highly suggest to use an all-in-one platform and take advantage of these unbelievable features they offer.
Why? Because creating courses and training online should be scalable. You can do this through optimization and automation. After designing your course in 70-30 hybrid cohort-based course model, look for Learning Management System (LMS) that allows you to use these specific features:
- Class scheduling and Automatic email notifications
- Peer review that allows peer-to-peer feedback
- Built-in learning community features such as chat, comment system, discussion boards, leaderboards, and forums
- Automatic grades computation of quizzes, test etc
- SCORM file integration to make use of your previous content materials
One of the best LMSs that cover these features is Teachfloor. We are popular in helping course creators put up their online live academies using the hybrid cohort-based model. It works well for our customers whether they are solopreneurs and consultants who run their own courses, corporate trainers who run employee training, and bootcamp founders who run an edTech business.