To Cohort or Not To Cohort?

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If you’re in the online course space, you’re probably led to believe that “cohort-based courses” (CBC) are the “rage” now.

The funny thing is “cohort-based learning” is nothing new. It’s more of a Silicon Valley spin on courses to make it sound like something revolutionary new, but hardly.

(Sidenote: my wife sent me this article on how a new generation was falling for the same old MLM “businesses” because it was spun in a way that made people think it was not MLM…spoiler alert: people realized it was MLM…an interesting read none the less.). My point is…just because someone says they “discovered” something they think is new and spins it in a way that makes it sound revolutionary, you have to really look and ask “Is it really new?”

CBC’s have trended lately due to so the whole MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) offered by sites like Coursera and edX and how many of those MOOCS were self-paced or self-study type courses (at least the free versions of them)…which resulted in a disappointingly low completion rate for these MOOCS.

CBC’s have been found to generally have a much higher completion rate (which I agree with and can see the benefits of CBC’s).

It’s just CBC’s, rather than concept of CBC’s are not new AND, I would argue that “completion rates” are not the truest metric of success for a course as we’re made to believe.

My view is when someone takes a course, they want something. A result, a transformation, a change of state. They are at point A in their life and they want help reaching point B.

Focusing purely on completion rate of a course doesn’t guarantee your student gets that result.

But, it’s not just that “cohort-based courses” are not new, not everyone wants them as you’re made to believe.

Just look at Brennan Dunn’s Create & Sell (it’s a great newsletter, I recommend you join it here) survey of his list and this is what came back regarding premium online course preferences for his audience:

62.2% want self-study courses

13.9% want cohort-based courses

Brennan Dunn’s Create & Sell newsletter

Ultimately, my point is this:

Don’t feel forced you have to offer “cohort-based courses” because everyone else is doing it. Your audience may have a completely different preference.

But not just that, I believe you should be designing a Creator business that suits YOUR preferences and lifestyle.

For example, I am not suited to doing “live” content. My best content is in written form and prepared in advance.

Whereas, some people create their best stuff just winging it with little to no preparation.

In the immortal words of Forrest Gump: “And that’s all I have to say about that.”


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