Cohort-Based Courses: Gamification, Paid Communities, Building in Public

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“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” — Henry Ford

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❓ What You’ll Learn

  • ☑️ How to validate demand?
  • 🌀 What are blended courses?
  • 🛑 How to handle objections?
  • 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 How to turn cohorts into communities?
  • 🎮 How to use gamification?
  • 💸 How to lower the cost of student acquisition?
  • 🧪 How to test a cohort-based course concept?


💎 Why It Matters

Transformative education occurs when students feel valued, acknowledged and included in a community of like-minded learners.


🔍 Problem

Self-paced courses require selfdiscipline and dedication.


💡 Solution

Cohort-based courses give you a sense of community.Support and accountability improve student outcomes.


🏁 Players

Cohort-Based Courses

Cohort-Based Tools

  • Teachfloor • Create and sell online live courses
  • Eduflow • Design and build social courses
  • Virtually • Create and automate live online courses
  • Disco • Learning platform for virtual classes and bootcamps
  • Clickto • Create and manage cohort-based courses and communities
  • EducateMe • Cohort-based learning platform
  • Airtribe • Build and manage live, community-driven online courses
  • Superpeer • Video platform to engage with your students

Cohort-Based Instructors


🔮 Predictions


☁️ Opportunities


🏔️ Risks

  • Format Risk • Cohort-based courses are expensive and hard to scale.
  • Platform Risk • You are subject to events out of your control. Classcamp was a platform for cohort-based courses. It proved not to be viable and shut down.
  • Reputation Risk • Poorly designed courses lead to false expectations, underdelivery and loss of trust.


🔑 Key Lessons

  • You don’t need a big team to run a cohort. Flavio Copes runs Javascript Masterclass and Web Development Bootcamp on his own.
  • Building an audience lowers the cost of acquisition. Cam Houser says free workshops are great for building in public.
  • Cohort-based courses are great for learning soft skills. Recent research proves that group work leads to effective soft skill development.
  • Cohort-based courses sacrifice scalability for interactivity.


🔥 Hot Takes

  • Top performers can excel with self-paced or cohort-based instruction. As Issac Assimov says, “Self-education is the only kind of education there is.”
  • Peer interactions are more important than star instructors.
  • Courses that heavily depend on student interaction should vet students to make sure that they have similar levels of need and experience. Co.Lab matches you with other learners based on teamwork styles, experiences and interests.


😠 Haters

“Cohort-based courses are expensive.”
There’s no free lunch. Additional value comes at a cost. Since money was invested, this also stops you from giving up.


“Cohort-based courses are not flexible.”
It can be hard to juggle cohort-based courses and other commitments. Choose self-paced courses if you prefer flexibility over interactivity. Some cohort-based courses offer lecture hours to choose from.


“Managing large student groups is demanding.”
Poor group management skills will spoil student experience. Try teaching small cohorts first. You can revert to a self-paced course later.


“This model has scaling problems. You can’t help lots of people at once.”
Cohorts are limited to the number of participants per call, room or platform. Self-paced courses are a better option if you prioritize wider reach over personalized teaching.


“Cohort-based courses require self-discipline and dedication too.”
Sure. It’s a matter of independent vs group learning. Which one do you prefer?


“Self-paced courses can offer asynchronous feedback.”
Self-paced courses can have discussion boards. Though they can’t replace the interactive and immersive experience of belonging to a dedicated student group.


🔗 Links

  1. The Essential Guide on How to Create Cohort-Based Courses • A comprehensive guide on how to create cohort-based courses.
  2. How to Gamify an Online Course with Octalysis • Yukai Chou talks about how to gamify your online course with Octalysis gamification framework.
  3. The Future of Online Learning • Gagan Biyani talks about how to build and operate cohort-based courses.


📁 Related Reports

  • Online Courses • Self-paced and flexible online education.
  • Education Platforms • Tools that help you build, sell, grow and operate online courses.
  • No-Code • No-Code tools help you build your course platform.
  • Personal Brands • Personal branding powers the success of star instructors.
  • Paid Communities • Cohorts and alumni networks are paid communities at their core.


🙏 Thanks

Thanks to Jordan Divecha, Yolanda Stephens, Soma Mandal, Jose Quesada, Roald Larsen, Amardeep Parmar, Darren Travel, Stephanie H and Sean Hua. We had a great time jamming on this report.
✏️ Emin researched and wrote this report. Dru researched and edited this report.



📈 What else?

Trends PRO #0091 — Cohort-Based Courses has more insights.

What you’ll get:

  • 24 Cohort-Based Courses (100% More)
  • 21 Cohort-Based Tools (162% More)
  • 25 Cohort-Based Instructors (177% More)
  • 11 Predictions (120% More)
  • 16 Opportunities (166% More)
  • 6 Risks (100% More)
  • 8 Key Lessons (100% More)
  • 7 Hot Takes (133% More)
  • 17 Links (466% More)

With Trends Pro you’ll learn:

  • (📈 Pro) How to find your niche?
  • (📈 Pro) How to sell a cohort-based course?
  • (📈 Pro) How to justify value-based pricing?
  • (📈 Pro) How to boost your conversion rate?
  • (📈 Pro) How to think about scaling cohort-based courses?
  • (📈 Pro) How to build a micro monopoly?
  • (📈 Pro) How to craft your ideal student persona?
  • (📈 Pro) How to boost the perceived value of your cohort-based course?
  • (📈 Pro) How to build win-win relationships with other instructors?
  • (📈 Pro) How to attract high-signal students?

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