The Learning Revolution: Live Cohort-Based Courses

Discover how live cohort-based courses are driving a learning revolution.
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Virtual bootcamps, academies and microschools are at the core of the changing learning landscape.

At Disco, we believe that we are heading into a golden age of learning, a learning revolution with cohort-based courses and this new breed of modern educational institution at the heart of it. Learning communities from around the world are coming to life everyday with thousands of new cohort based online courses, bootcamps and academies. And they offer everything from vocational schools to alternative MBAs, to VC fellowships, to crypto learning communities, to career accelerators, and many more.

To fully grasp how particularly unique cohort-based courses are to this moment in time and how disruptive live learning and cohort course itself can be, it is essential to first understand the forces and trends that have shaped education and learning.

The unique format of the live online cohort-based course addresses the past challenges of both traditional and online learning, while simultaneously being incredibly complementary to the trends that are now defining learning. Live, social, cohort-based courses bring together the best of in-person connection and cohort learning with the accessibility and flexibility of online learning.

A cohort moves through a curriculum together, creating a learning community with multiple channels for connection including 1:1 chat, channels and subgroups for in-person engagement, group sessions and work sessions. It's a transformational learning experience different from anything that was possible before. That is why bootcamps and academies are seeing such incredible learner engagement.

Here’s what we mean:

A New Level Of Accessibility

People crave genuine access, the type that removes opportunity barriers. Online classes got us halfway to ‘accessible' learning. The rise of online learning platforms meant that material and content was available to anyone and from anywhere – which was huge in terms of potential. However, this change didn't reflect how people actually learn. People also require a more personal relationship and a learning community, which can be a challenge to create in an online offering.

Live cohort-based courses retain all the benefits of online (it can be done from anywhere, no need for travel, childcare, or carbon footprint) while adding the benefits of community. The live components of cohort courses mean that learners from anywhere in the world have the chance to engage directly and learn from top global talent in a way that's  never been possible before. And the live learning platforms are at the core of providing this access to education – access to the curriculum and learning, but also to other students, live learning together. This creates intimacy and enhances the learner's experience, something that was never possible on such a global scale before.

The Power of Accountability

Ultimately, online education didn't deliver on its initial promise because it has a design flaw that can't be fixed. .. Online learning is inherently self-paced and done alone - which is not how people learn best, leading to a 95% dropout rate. Successful learning in physical classroom requires some level of external accountability.

Learning communities thrive because of shared accountability. The feedback and exchange loop allows students to learn from one another as well as the “master” or teacher. With live cohort-based courses, there is peer-to-peer learning, working through the course material or project together. Completion rates regularly hit 100% because the students are working through the material or project together.

The Optimal Learning Experience

Teacher, best selling author and marketing guru Seth Godin built one of the world's most popular massive online courses - one that he now advises people not to take. He has since realized that  learning is not a solitary experience and online courses are just media consumption.

Seth Godin sees the future of learning as leaving behind the constraints of both modern industrial education (the centralized content, the carrot/stick motivation of certification, and the lecture format) as well as the limitations of the online course learning (the low to zero engagement) and building a new and better path.

Optimal and enhanced learning experiences happen with: high course enrollment ( people are there because they want to be, not because it's mandated in some way); experiential elements ( there is a transformative component as a result of going through it); peer-to-peer learning (from feedback and shared projects within a learning community).

Seth Godin's course the altMBA is built around these learning principles. With a self paced, peer-to-peer learning environment, a cohort-based community (groups of five to twenty people), and consistent engagement within the learning community, it's no wonder the program is so successful. One key to success is that it's not lecture based; instead, learning happens through assignments.

This is what a live online cohort-based course looks like - and why it's so powerful as a format for collaborative learning.

A New Type Of Teacher

Live cohort-based courses also represent an entirely new forum for a new type of teacher. Traditional institutional education was built around regulating who was able to lead the classroom and deciding what they needed to have in order to do so. What we've seen with the rise of online influencers on platforms like Tik Tok, YouTube and Instagram is that people increasingly want to learn directly from the people they admire.

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Influence has become the new accreditation

The challenge has been that, until now, most course creators and educators didn't have a pathway to both a sustainable income and the ability to build a new teaching product. Live online cohort-based courses completely change this. Income on ad-based platforms requires hundreds of thousands of followers. With a live online cohort-based course, a creator can become a teacher with a sustainable income source with only a small group of learners. The key is to design live learning experiences that meet the specific needs of your community, with the tools and content developed to engage and enhance the learning experience. Fortunately, Disco is all you need to build, market, and sell like courses, workshops and learning communities successfully. Let us show you how on the Disco Community!  

Have a question or comment on how to get started with your own, live classes and cohort-based courses? Tweet us at Disco or book time with us here!

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