What is a cohort course?
In a cohort course, students progress through online course content together as a group (called a cohort). The students in the cohort begin and end the program at the same time.
Cohort courses often include a community element, so students can discuss the course content and support each other as they work through the course. Course creators usually offer an interactive element as part of the cohort course, like a weekly live check-in or Q&A session.
Many creators offer both cohort and self-paced courses. You can run a cohort course on a recurring schedule or as a one-time program. Sometimes, creators sell a program as a cohort course first, then turn the content into a self-paced course.
What are the benefits of a cohort-based course?
Here are some of the benefits of cohort learning:
Sense of community: Students can support and learn from each other. This can make the learning experience more enjoyable and less isolating.
Collaboration opportunities: If a course is geared toward entrepreneurs or creators, being part of a cohort gives students a chance to connect and collaborate with others in their field.
Consistency and structure: Cohort courses often have a set schedule, which can help keep students on track and increase course completion rates.
Cohort course examples
The Creative Bodega
As the founder of The Creative Bodega , Em Connors helps entrepreneurs use Canva and content batching to teach their passions, connect with their followers, and make more sales.
Em's flagship course, the Canva Crash Course , runs for four weeks once a year. The program includes weekly pre-recorded lessons, live group Zoom coaching/Q&A calls, and a private interactive community.
Em creates a waitlist a month before the course opens to build excitement. When it's time to launch, she only keeps enrollment open for five days. Keeping the course cohort small helps Em give each student the best experience possible.
"I love the live cohort aspect because it holds people accountable," Em explains. "People are more involved, and they're more excited."
Emily Mills is a professional illustrator and the founder of Sketchnote Academy , where she teaches students sketchnoting (visual notetaking) online. Emily offers both self-paced and cohort courses.
The Sketchnote Academy cohort programs are groups of around 25 students who go through a curriculum together over one or two months. The group meets over Zoom to learn, discuss, share progress, and get feedback.
Emily has used the cohort format to host two book clubs so far. Cohort members learn to sketchnote a book summary while reading (and drawing) their way through a book together.
She uses Podia’s course feature to set up the programs, then links to scheduled Zoom webinars for the cohort meetings. Emily plans to turn the book club content into a self-paced course on sketchnoting book summaries.
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