Guide

How to create a cohort-based course

Run a scalable cohort-based course without compromising its collaborative learning and community-led approach. Discover the sweet spot of transformative learning at scale.

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Cohort-Based Courses as the Future of Education

After becoming a trend in 2010, a recent study shows that MOOCs or self-paced learning has disadvantages on learner engagement and completion rates. The main challenge with self-paced learning is the lack of engagement and motivation to finish a course.

Let’s face it. Unless your learning style is learning by yourself, learning at your own pace isn’t easy. Because we, humans, are social beings. We learn best with social interactions.

Due to this challenge, we innovated learning into a new model called Cohort-based Course (CBC) or Cohort-based Learning (CBL). This model became popular while the world was under lockdown as we shifted to learning online. The term was predicted as the future of education by experts. However, how can we prove it’s true?

There are reports, case studies, and businesses that proved the effectiveness of cohort-based learning. Just look at the success of a cohort-based course for writing, Ship30for30. They started from a community of aspiring digital writers and then exploded into a cohort learning. Now, they are in their 9th cohort with 4,000 alumni. Another one is Ali Abdaal’s Part-Time Youtuber Academy which made $1.5M in 9 months compared to his earnings of $140k from his self-paced courses. (more of these case studies in the next chapters)

How to create a cohort-based course

These creators contribute to democratizing transformative education globally. Let's explore what we can learn from them, and how you can do it too with your cohort-based courses or online academy.

As a learning platform that has experience with eLearning, we want to help our users and non-users to design their courses in a way that transforms their learners as well as get a reasonable revenue from their efforts in creating their cohort-based courses.

We all know that building an online academy or simply creating a cohort-based course isn’t for the faint-hearted. You need stackable skills to design your curriculum, find your niche audience, and run the course. It’s no easy job especially if you’re doing it alone and you’re starting something new.

That’s why we are here, writing this complete guide on how you can design your cohort-based course in a way that is…

  • transformational to your learners,
  • scalable as a digital business, and
  • worth your time and effort

We wrote this guide for…

  • course creators who want to turn their self-paced courses into a scalable cohort-based course
  • founders and educators who use cohort-based learning model and they want to scale their online academies, micro-schools, tech Bootcamps, and accelerator or incubation hubs
  • subject matter experts, thought leaders, and consultants who are serious about turning their knowledge into a cohort-based course
  • instructional designers, eLearning experts, and corporate trainers who are using cohort-based learning in their schools, organizations, and company training
  • education enthusiasts who simply want to start their online course and they want to learn how to scale a cohort-based course

Learn more about The evolution of online education: from MOOC to Cohort-Based Courses.

The Promise of this eBook

We are grateful that educators or founders like you would want to improve the way you teach online. In exchange for your time, we made a pact to deliver the best knowledge we know of to help you in scaling and improving your cohort-based courses. This eBook contains proven pedagogies and strategies that you can use to scale your course while transforming your learners.

This eBook highlighted why cohort-based courses are effective, who are the current key players, and what are the underlying challenges of the model despite its success. After rigorous research, we came up with a new model to solve the biggest issues of cohort-based courses—which happen to be scalability and affordability. You can find everything you need to learn about our findings in this eBook, and we wish you success in the application of the new model.

Disclaimer: The strategies and findings that you will read are proven by real businesses. For you to get the most out of it—execution, experimentation, and iteration are needed. On a case to case basis, some tactics might apply well to your course, and maybe some of them won’t. It still depends on the context of your online academy. So in case you want to share your successful (or failed) story, please do reach us on LinkedIn and Twitter! We can’t wait to hear what you’ve come up with.

How to create a cohort-based course

What is a Cohort-based Course?

Cohort-based Course (CBC) or Cohort-based Learning (CBL) is a learning environment where students learn and collaborate. It’s highly engaging and learner-centric. It allows students to learn with peers, led by an instructor in a specific timeframe. It works very well because it’s time-bound and students are forced to learn a specific topic in a specific time frame with their peers. Unlike self-paced, it’s bi-directional, community-led, real-time, and perfect for skills-building. Although cohort-based learning is not new—it was used by schools even before the pandemic. It accentuates during the lockdown because everyone shifted to learning and teaching online. Studies proved that MOOCs or self-paced learning cannot transform students.

Another definition from Gad Allon is, “it’s a collaborative learning style where a group of students progresses through an educational program collectively.”

Here is a clear comparison of self-paced learning vs cohort-based learning:

 cohort-based course

Who uses the Cohort-based model?

Did you know that Cohort-based Learning was already used in classrooms even before the pandemic? Yes, even though the term became popular because of online learning, educational institutions have proven its effects on students’ success. Now that it’s trending, who are other groups that use this model?

Bootcamps

Apparently, tech Bootcamps designed their courses in cohorts that allow their students to work in teams. It’s a way for them to show their cohorts how tech teams work in the real world.

Training Programs

Recently, L&D teams discovered how important upskilling is for their employees rather than hiring new ones. Therefore, companies are building their internal academies. Because of this, L&D teams adapted the concept of learning together in a cohort, gamifying training programs to increase knowledge retention and make learning fun.

Coaching Programs

Although coaching is famous for 1:1s, there is also another type which is group coaching, where a coach holds a focus group discussion. Sometimes, coaches use cohort-based learning to facilitate a group that needs a long-term coaching experience.

Accelerators and Incubators

Learning is a huge part of accelerator and incubator programs. Pitching and raising funds is just the North Star, but the whole process lies down in learning. Accelerators & Incubators use cohort-based learning to implement their programs alongside the pitch and networking opportunities.

What makes Cohort-based Courses effective?

Community-led.

Most successful cohorts started in a community. Since cohort-based learning is bi-directional and peer-led, the approach takes away the concept of star instructors where all information comes from the instructor.

This happens in self-paced because typically you’re learning from the materials given by the instructor. However, cohort-based learning is community-led where open discussions, forums, and debates are encouraged and everyone is learning from each other.

Real-time & live.

All of us benefited from the power of technology where learning goes virtual, global, and diverse. Now, it is possible to learn with cohorts in real-time, live sessions. The magic happens with what they call interleaving in learning where students learn in different modalities such as breakouts, discussions, debates, and group work happens in real-time. The learning becomes highly interactive, engaging, and social.

Time-bound.

One of the challenges in self-paced learning is the flexibility of starting & finishing the course. The sense of urgency and limitations with time can force students to take the course and complete it. Having a specific timeline is the reason why completion rates are high and students don’t slack off in finishing what they’ve started.

Skills-building.

This is hardly possible in a self-paced because it’s more of a knowledge transfer than skills-building. In cohort-based, instructors can build up skills with hands-on practice and learning by doing approach.

Career Pathways.

Cohort-based learning prepares students for the real world with a hands-on approach. It’s inevitable not to think about the career path of your students when you apply cohort-based in your course or training. That’s why most tech Bootcamps and training programs prepare students’ pathways even after the program.

"Interleaving in learning is often described as a method that involves studying parts of different courses or topics within the same period, as opposed to finishing with one before moving to the other. It refers to mixing multiple subjects in a bid to improve learning." -brainhackerexpert.com

cohort-based learning

Challenges and Solutions

Why cohort-based courses are hard to scale?

Cohort-based Courses are about transformation. That's why it's hard to scale. But who says we cannot do both at the same time? It might be difficult, but it's not impossible. So what are the current challenges of cohort-based courses?

Zoom fatigue & time zone difference

We enjoyed the diversity of our cohorts due to online learning. However, we also suffered from Zoom fatigue and time zone difference. Most cohorts are real-time and live to capture learning in the best way possible. But, challenges arise with interacting with others virtually during live sessions. Staring at your computer, speaking in front of the camera, listening, and checking your face from time to time on the screen. Not only that, but due to time zone differences, some folks need to learn real-time at 1 or 3 in the morning.

Expensive Price

Because it’s time-bound and students have direct interaction with the instructor who happens to be an expert or a celebrity in his field, instructors charge more in exchange for their time & effort. It’s good for instructors. However, it isn’t helpful for students who don’t have the budget to pay for an expensive course.

Active Involvement of Instructors

The biggest difference between cohort-based to self-paced learning is that instructors aren’t so much involved in self-paced learning. Whereas in cohort-based, instructors are highly involved as they need to facilitate sessions in real-time rather than create pre-recorded videos. This costs the instructor to do everything all at once. Unfortunately, even though cohort-based learning is community-led, it still needs someone who leads, moderates the conversation, and supports the members when problems boil up.

The maximum number of students & different skill levels

MOOCs are designed to scale education. As a course creator, you only need to do the work for weeks, launch your course, and voila! Thousands and even millions of students can buy your course with little time & effort from you. Unlike cohort-based, you can only admit 50-100 students in one cohort. It isn’t scalable. It’s full of hard work, time, and dedication.

The “Sweet Spot”

How to create a cohort-based course

MOOCs sold well because of their scalability and affordability. While cohort-based courses sell well because it is transformative. Unfortunately, the reason why MOOCs fell down is that transformation is hard. Completion rates are low which means learning is not effective.

On the other hand, the cohort-based model hinders aspiring course creators to turn their courses into cohort-based because of the challenges that we discussed above. It also hinders students to join a cohort-based course because of the pricing.

So what is the sweet spot of scalability and transformative learning? After our thorough research on how we can improve the cohort-based model, we came up with a new model.

Originally, Nomadic Learning coined the term semi-synchronous collaborative learning. They are using this model to conduct corporate training programs for medium to large-sized companies. Case studies have proven that this model improves the learning experience of employees.

Creating a similar concept of this model, we derived it to what we call a hybrid cohort-based course. Technically, anyone who uses cohort-based learning in their learning environment or communities can get the advantage of this model—from Bootcamps, accelerators, and corporate training, to simple cohort-based courses.

The Hybrid Cohort-based Courses

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.

Putting the context of hybrids in a cohort-based course derives us into the right mixture of asynchronous (self-paced) and synchronous (live or cohort-based) learning.

The hybrid cohort-based course is the sweet spot of MOOCs and Cohort-based Courses where we pick what works and leave what’s not of these two models. MOOCs for their scalability, and Cohort-based Courses for their transformational aspect.

Why is ‘hybrid’ the next big thing?

Now that the pandemic is ‘quite’ over and we’re in the post-pandemic era, schools are opening up again and students are getting back to school in in-person classes. But did everything go back to normal like what we had in pre-pandemic? Of course not.

Unfortunately, universities and colleges especially in the US are having a decrease in college enrollees and a shortage of teachers. Because we’ve found out that acquiring skills doesn’t only mean getting a degree, college students prefer to learn online (taking Bootcamps, reading articles, watching videos, and looking for apprenticeships) than paying for expensive college tuition loans that will make them pay for a long time.

How we learn dramatically changed over the years. Technology totally disrupts education. So what’s my point? Online learning is here to stay in all education categories—from K-12, Higher Ed, Workforce Development, to Corporate Training. That’s why the hybrid model is here to stay.

Hybrid learning has different types. It goes with

  • asynchronous & synchronous
  • online & in-person
  • traditional & flipped classroom
  • lecture-based & student-centered

Although all of these are crucial in online learning, we are focusing our model on how we can maximize both the asynchronous & synchronous. But before that, let’s tackle first how different types work.

How does 'hybrid' work?

Asynchronous & Synchronous

It's where you conduct your lessons either in live sessions where you and the learners are in a live class or with pre-recorded videos & online materials that learners can consume without your presence.

Online & In-person

This is also called the 'blended learning approach where you mix up online learning into physical learning. You can conduct an online class for discussions and lectures. Meanwhile, if you have exercises, activities, or presentations that are better with physical connection, you may conduct these in an in-person setup.

Traditional & Flipped Classroom

A traditional classroom is where students learn the theory in the class together with the teacher. For example, reading happens during the class and then the teacher summarizes the material. On the other hand, the flipped classroom approach is where consuming content materials happens at the student’s own pace.

It happens before the class starts. Instead of consuming the materials altogether, the class is designed for open discussions, debates, and group work that are relatable to the consumed materials.

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 them together to get better learning outcomes.

Asynchronous vs Synchronous Learning

Asynchronous learning is a form of learning that does not occur at the same place, at the same time, or that is offline. Students learn at their own pace, at their own time with a variety of instructional interactions with content materials. Examples are:

Online discussion boards

Commonly seen in community platforms, web apps, etc

Community channels

Like discussion boards, these are channels in your private learning community. Where students can chat, ask questions, give comments, and react to one another regarding any topic.

Chats and email exchanges

Learning can also happen in chat and email with the instructors and mentors.

Peer-to-peer feedback

Peer-to-peer is usually curated and facilitated by the course provider or instructors. You can do this in one of your community channels or if not, with a built-in LMS feature.

Game-based tasks

Usually, homework group tasks are fun and full of milestones, and the winning group will earn a prize afterward.

Meanwhile, Synchronous learning is a form of learning that is life and does occur at a specific time. Students learn together, with instructors, and live. Examples are:

Live lectures

Virtual classroom type where live discussion is led by teachers or instructors

Class reviews

1-2 hrs of a review session for complex topics

Workshops

1-3 hrs of group work and discussion led by a facilitator, mentor, or expert

Webinars

Live talks with subject matter experts with live Q&A at the end of the presentation

Networking events

Social gathering from people of similar interests, projects, and program

Ask Me Anything (AMA)

Open space for questions directly answered by guest speakers, experts, celebrities, or famous people.

Fireside Chat

Open discussion with 2 or more invited guests talking about a specific topic, followed by open Q&A from the audience

Socials

Capacity building virtual calls to socialize and strengthen relationships among students, employees, and learners.

Strategies to Scale

There are three biggest things that we want to solve in cohort-based courses: scalability, affordability, and transformative learning. As mentioned above, MOOCS are scalable and affordable, while Cohort-based Courses are transformational. We combine these all and we get the hybrid cohort-based courses.

After assessing the key players with cohort-based courses like Ship30for30, BeOnDeck, and Part-time Youtuber Academy, we collected the strategies that help them to scale and to transform their students. And here they are:

The 70-30 strategy

Mixing up the pros of self-paced or asynchronous learning plus the pros of live sessions or synchronous learning can scale up your cohort-based course in real-time. This mixture also solves time zone differences, the time commitment of instructors, and Zoom fatigue.

All you need to do is to create or reuse your content with pre-recorded videos, texts, and images where students can learn at their own pace. Lessen the live sessions from 5x a week to 1-2x a week where you openly discuss, debate, or work with groups on the main topic. Then for other live group sessions, make it peer-led and coaches or mentor-led. This is where cohort-based learning happens not with the instructor but with the community itself.

How to do it?

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 session
  • Design your curriculum. Feel free to use some instructional design principles such as backward design and the ADDIE process. Break down your course topics into modules and lessons. Remember to chunk it into bits to avoid information overload. After doing this, identify the lessons that are better for self-paced learning and are good for live sessions.
  • Create or reuse your current materials. It’s up to you what materials to reuse and create for your self-paced resources. Are the materials outdated? Recreate them. Are the materials still useful? Reuse them.
  • Put them in one place. To make your life easier, put everything in one place. Look for a learning platform that suits your needs and goals.
  • Add an online learning community. Scalability means you don’t need to come up with everything for your students. What you need to do is to help them learn from each other and sustain a learning environment without you in the center. Adding a learning community can create more collaboration, engagement, and long-term relationships among your learners.

If you are scaling your course, we design Teachfloor for scalable cohort-based courses. You can create unlimited courses and upload different formats such as SCORM files, videos, PDFs, texts, slides, etc.

30% synchronous learning session
  • Scheduling: Now that you’re finished with the self-paced materials, it’s time to complete the puzzle of course design. When are you going to conduct your live sessions? Schedule them on your platform for automation.
  • Design your live sessions: How is the flow of your live session? What activities are you going to conduct? Don’t forget the concept of interleaving learning where different activities are interchanging in one session to increase the participation and motivation of your learners.
  • Here are tips on how to make your synchronous sessions engaging:
  • Start with a get-to-know-each-other or networking session: 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 a prompt each week along with the live class. Gamify and make it group work to increase peer-to-peer learning.
Leverage technology

Don’t forget that we’re in the 21st century where you can automate some tasks. Leverage technology through automation and optimization by using an all-in-one learning platform.

You don’t need to break the bank for this. Some learning platforms like Teachfloor are free for 14 days and you only need to pay a recurring monthly fee of $59 to admit unlimited students and create unlimited courses.

What are the tasks that can be automated?

  • Email notifications
  • Class scheduling
  • Class attendance
  • Checking of grades
  • App integrations
  • Payment collection
  • Student report
  • Scheduling of lessons
  • And sometimes, the course design itself
Write the SOPs of your course

When you launch your first cohort, there is too much work because you are just starting out. Along the way, the tasks seem lighter because you’re discovering what does and what does not work after executing at least 2 to 3 cohorts.

The best way to capture this information is to write it down. After some time, you can create a manual or an SOPof your course once you have the system in place.

Delegate tasks

No instructor can do this alone. Although in some cases, this is the reality for other solopreneurs. But if you can onboard mentors, coaches, and community support in building your course, the scaling won’t be too hard for you. Because you can delegate the tasks to your team and you can do something else that gives you bigger outcomes. What are the tasks that you can delegate?

Live classes facilitation

For this, you can invite experts to facilitate a workshop or speak in AMA or fireside chat. Experts always want to share their insights and expertise, so you might get their presence for free or ex-deal.

Mentoring and coaching

Looking for part-time mentors or coaches is one of the best things you can do without decreasing the quality of your course. It’s like multiplying yourself 5x to 10x. It depends on how large your cohort is, but you can start with 5-10. They absolutely help the transformation as it diversifies the learning experience of the learners.

Community and course operations

Community management is a huge aspect of the cohort-based model. Delegate this task to a part-time or full-time community manager and ops to moderate your learning community.

Course or content design

In some cases, you can look for a co-instructor to design your course. Delegating more tasks to others can help you focus on other important things. But if you are the face of your cohort-based course—meaning students enrolled to have direct access to you, leave up the main live sessions for yourself to facilitate.

Course distribution

Look for a kick-ass marketer to do the course distribution for you. Marketing is a long game for cohort-based courses if you do this alone. Or else, you will stay dependent on word-of-mouth and alumni referrals.

Break down the cohorts

Can you imagine the chaos of one Zoom room with 500 students? It does look more like a webinar than a class! Well, you can only make this possible by breaking the 500 students into sub-groups.

The best cohort size is around 30-100. More than a hundred is hardly manageable. In a hybrid cohort-based, you can at least admit 100-500 students and divide them into sub-groups. Then let the coaches or mentors lead these small groups for a tight-knit, intensive, and intimate learning experience.

You can break down the cohorts into sub-groups by:

  • course topic
  • interests
  • time zone or regions
  • hobbies
  • skillset
  • industry
  • work title
  • learning goals
  • personal stories
  • aspirations
  • etc

These are just examples. It still depends on the context of your course.

Self-sustaining community

Scale your cohort-based course by creating a self-sustaining community that doesn’t need you to be present all the time. That’s actually the good part about cohort-based courses that are community-led. It slashes out the concept of star instructors where you as the instructor of the course need to be present in all activities all the time.

A self-sustaining community has several benefits for both you and your learners. You don’t need to be involved in every activity. Learners can learn not just from you, but from the learning environment that you build with them.

Read What is an Online Learning Community.

Strategies to Transform

Project-based Learning

One of the famous pedagogies is Project-based Learning or commonly known as PBL. This approach is widely used in K-12 classes. Because of its proven effectiveness, tech Bootcamps and cohort-based courses adopted it and use it in their curriculum design.

Why is it effective? The Project-based Learning approach allows learners to learn by application which is crucial for transformative learning. Instead of mere discussions and lectures, this pedagogy enables students to learn with projects where they gain the top skills that are needed for the 21st-century workforce. Most of the time, PBL is done in groups, solving a real-world problem, and using the design thinking method.

Another benefit is, instructors are more of a facilitator, mentors, or coaches in the class. The class is not centered on the instructor, but on the learners and the projects.

Learn how you can apply this approach by reading How to use Project-Based Learning approach to build learning environments.

Gamification

Apparently, the gamification market is valued from $6.3B in the industry in 2019 to a projected $37B by 2027. Educators, creators, and even corporate trainers are using gamification as their way to teach online and offline.

Gamification works well in education because it gives students the feeling of fun, a challenge, and belongingness. These three factors can make learning better and more effective. Successful examples are Duolingo and Kahoot!, two of the most famous EdTech startups that change the way we learn online.

Learn  how to apply gamification by reading How to use Gamification in Corporate Training.

Peer-driven learning

When students don’t learn solely from teachers, and they learn from peers, from their environment—that’s when transformation happens.

Learning doesn’t happen inside the classroom alone. It actually happens outside the classroom. It’s when students team up for a group activity on campus. It’s when they go out for a field trip to visit museums, parks, the national library, local places, and so on. It’s when they are learning from their peers and from their learning environment which happens to be the real world.

For cohort-based courses, these physical activities are hard to execute. What we can do is organize a tour in virtual museums, group activity in breakout rooms, and meet-ups in certain cities. Sometimes, simply integrating peer review and peer teaching can also help us in integrating peer learning activities into the course.

Here are more readings about the topic:

The best thing about this is, some learning platforms out there support peer-driven learning. You can automate and integrate peer reviews in your class by using these platforms. We have integrated a feature of peer review and instructor review in Teachfloor to make sure your course would have a more collaborative learning experience.

Personalized Learning

Last on our list is Personalized Learning: today, this is one of the most sought-after strategies for learning. Edtech startups integrate personalized learning in their tools, apps, and services to ensure quality and transformative education. Companies are using personalized learning in their corporate training.

One of the reasons why MOOCs didn’t work is because it’s nothing personal. Remember, learners have different learning styles, skill levels, and learning goals. Performing a cohort-based course can help you in discovering these differences, while personalized learning can bridge these differences among your learners.

You can integrate Personalized Learning in your cohort-based course through:

  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Daily or weekly check-in
  • Individual or group check-in
  • Tracking of learning goals
  • Personal development plan (PDP)
  • Support channel

Success Stories with real outcomes

Cohort-based courses got their fame from celebrity creators. Most of the success stories you’ve probably heard on the internet are from creators who teach their knowledge through a cohort-based course. Today, we will name a few of them and analyze their strategies.

Ship30for30 

Ship30 for 30 is the most popular cohort-based course for people who want to learn how to write on the internet. Dickie started this course with a community challenge. For him, to become a digital writer is to build a habit of writing online which most people don’t do. That’s why he created a challenge where people will collectively write every day for 30 days in a short format which he recently called an atomic essay.

To make it more challenging, there’s a $50 payment for people who want to take the challenge. The payment is refundable for those who completed the challenge. And those who did not, can’t get the payment back. And now, the community challenge blew up to 4k+ alumni, is running their 9th cohort, and has been named Ship30for30!

Takeaways from Ship30for30:

  • Community-led. Most great courses are started in online communities by small groups who have the same goals, visions, dreams, aspirations, and even challenges. Ship30for30 started in a community of aspiring digital writers who have common challenges of consistency and shipping what they have written online.
  • Hands-on Practice. Cohort-based courses are project-based and application-based which prepares you for the real job. That’s the reason why it is effective and transformational. Ship30for30 simply gathers people to practice writing deliberately. Discussing the theory of writing isn’t the main goal. It’s about practicing and building the habits of writing.
  • Real-time Feedback. Students of this course are encouraged to share their short-form essays on Twitter where they practice writing in public. It’s a good strategy because it allows real-time feedback from peers, instructors, and the public audience.
  • Self-sustaining. Because everyone is tweeting their atomic essays every day, there’s a huge chance that it goes viral—and it did! The course uses the power of word-of-mouth for its flywheel effect. They also created a high-converting landing page where they collected hundreds of testimonials from their alumni. They created a self-sustaining cohort-based course where they don’t need to exert marketing efforts just to sell the course.

Part-time Youtuber Academy 

Ali Abdaal is one of the biggest YouTubers with 3.41M subscribers. He started creating videos and posting them on Youtube while he was studying medicine at Cambridge University. He did it part-time and grew his subscribers in 2 years!

In 2021, he made $4.7M ARR (annual recurring revenue) from different income streams and one of them being the Part-time Youtuber Academy (PTYA). His first cohort garnered 350 students, then the next cohorts had 300-500 students. Pretty cool, right? Although Ali’s story is probably not the best example for beginners, we still learned something from his cohort-based course that scaled. His cohort-based course makes up 50% of his total ARR with overall revenue of $2.5M in 2021.

Takeaways from PTYA:

  • Delegate tasks. Ali is not the only one who’s working to execute his cohort-based course. He has a team of 20. Although yes, you’re right. They are huge already for a cohort-based course business. But my point is, you could also start by delegating tasks through hiring your first part-time support or virtual assistant, and collaborating with other experts to speak and teach in your live sessions.
  • Hands-on practice. The course is for 4 weeks long. Although they have daily workshops led by his team, Ali leads a keynote live session once per week. One of the requirements of the course is students need to ship 1 video per week and they will receive feedback from instructors and peers.
  • Community-led. Right now, the cohort-based course has both an online and in-person community where everyone is helping out each other to succeed in their Youtube business.

Be On Deck Accelerator

If you are looking for an interactive community of talented entrepreneurial individuals in hopes of supercharging your career, Be On Deck is exactly where you need to be. Its drop sessions bring together founders, investors, and career leaders from all over the globe as they explore new ideas together.

Be On Deck is the accelerator that uses the cohort-based course model and has grown into thousands of community members.

Takeaways from PTYA:

  • Subscription-based pricing. Because learning doesn’t only stop in a cohort-based course of 5 weeks, Be On Deck offers a yearly membership subscription to founders who need guidance in accelerating their startups. If you think your cohort-based course can also offer membership, and continuous learning for your students, feel free to use this pricing model too.
  • Community-led. Like our two examples above, the course membership is community-led. You will gain access to the learning community that will help you along your acceleration journey.
  • Hands-on Practice. Be On Deck provides non-compulsory weekly workshops and fireside chats with experts to help founders with challenges they may face in growing the startups.

Closing

That’s it! Thanks for reading up until here. This eBook will always be an unfinished product because learning and education will keep on evolving. Rest assured that we will update this piece of work accordingly. And for that, we will send you an updated copy.

Some notes for our readers:

  • If you think there are still things to improve here, feel free to reach out to us on LinkedIn and Twitter. We would like to hear your feedback and iterate the eBook.
  • If you want to learn more about eLearning and how to build your online academy, you can also look into our blogs which serve as the best resource center to learn the latest trends, concepts, and how-tos of designing better content, courses, and curriculum for your learners.
  • And if you are ready to apply the tactics you’ve just read--and you don’t have a learning platform to put all your resources in one place, or you’re looking to change your current one, we have written a section about Teachfloor for our users and non-users to learn more about what we do, why we are doing this, and what we can offer.

Teachfloor: Cohort-based Course Platform

Interesting facts about us:
  • Teachfloor believes the future of education is online, everywhere, together. We help instructors build and grow their online live academies.
  • Registered business in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are composed of a small team from different places around the world working remotely to build a great learning infrastructure for our educators, edupreneurs, trainers, and learners. This is our way to contribute to the advancement of education and learning.
  • We are building our learning platform in 2021. We serve mostly tech Bootcamps, course creators, consultants, coaches, thought leaders… in short edupreneurs who are passionately sharing their knowledge, ideas, and expertise through cohort-based courses.
  • Creating a cohort-based course online by yourself is not that easy. We want to be part of the journey of these course creators, founders, edupreneurs, and trainers who put in hard work and dedication to educate the world with their expertise. We want to do that through our online platform. Learn about the features that help dozens of users in their online academies.
  • We solely don’t want to help you leverage technology by automation and saving your time. We also want to help you scale and get a reasonable profit from your efforts. That's why:
  • We offer a basic plan with $59 monthly where you can create unlimited courses, admit unlimited students, and add up to 4 instructors to help you out.
  • You can test it out for free within 14 days to see if the platform fits your needs as a course creator, edupreneur, founder, and trainer.

For a detailed guide, we wrote an article on how to start your online academy with us → How to build your online academy using Teachfloor.

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