One of the first lessons we emphasize in our CBC Accelerator program is that building a cohort based course is about much more than teaching something to someone.
As Gwen Elliot shared with us, cohort based courses should be constructed from the frame of asking. “What could be the transformation that you want to give your audience?” That’s what building a course is really about -taking a person on a transformational journey that changes where and who they are.”
Architecting a transformational learning experience requires creators to:
1. Set Expectations
A transformative learning experience is more likely to unfold when participants clearly understand what is expected of them in terms of time, preparation and follow up.
Often creators are hesitant to fully articulate their expectations because they worry they will put off potential participants - but this is a flawed approach. What’s more important is finding the right learners for the class - a successful transformative is by design not for everyone, and the clearer you can be about who it is for - the more likely you are to be able to succeed.
2. Design For Steady Incremental Progress
Striving for positive indicators and milestones is a great way to map your course progress:
“It’s essential to design the course so that the ideal learner sees the milestones towards creating the ultimate desired results," says Gwen. "Say I'm working with somebody where the desired result is creating an online course that replaces their current business income. Then the course should be designed with milestones along the way that show that they are moving closer to the ultimate goal. So in this case, filming the course is a milestone to making the first sale, which moves it closer to reaching that goal post of matching your income with your course.”
3. Build From A Practitioner Approach
The most effective transformational experiences are ones where learners are constantly doing and engaging. It’s what Suzanne Howard describes as the pedagogy of, “See, try, share, and reflect.”
4. There’s No Simple or Single Template
Ultimately, how you design your course depends on the needs of your learner - there's no one size fits all for creating a great course. This goes for course length, class size and meeting frequency.
Knowing who your customer is, knowing when they have time to take your course, you know, how they would want to learn from you, really designing it around them.
5. Create An Environment Of Psychological Safety
In order to create a transformational learning experience it’s essential to create an environment of psychological safety or your learners won’t find the necessary comfort levels to be able to reach a place of vulnerability - that is essential for genuinely transformative learning experiences.
Achieving an environment of psychological safety requires intention and vigilance. Articulate the norms that are expected for all participants and facilitators - this includes what can and can’t be shared on social media and outside the forum. Have learners sign a commitment to upholding these group norms and constantly look for feedback on what your community needs to achieve this state.
6. Bring Your Excitement
Finally, you have to create a learning experience that you are excited about teaching live, because if you’re not, it's not going to resonate.