Cohort-Based Online Learning – Ready..Set…

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What a week. The cohort-based learning (online) post gets published and readers and others reach out talking about they are going to install this their online learning, vendors – wrote about adding it too, and making sure everything is there.

There were people who were already big fans of cohort-based learning, and this post, reinforced that idea, along with its potential success going online.

What I came to realize was three-fold, two completely that blindsided me.

  • People totally got into “it” – that is to say really jazzed and excited about doing cohort-based learning (online) in the corporate/association market – I found so many people who see the premise and can go, okay this can work – I believe in it. It is the first time, in a few years that for the online learning corporate space – real enthusiasm to go for it. I love that, which is why this second post, aligns so well.
  • Vendors – a few already noting they have cohort-based, starting the marketing twist (no surprise here)
  • The Search for cohort-based learning – a plus of course, but also I realized quickly that it by typing in, what people will likely type in a search engine, let to results as a whole that you do not want

Initially this post was going full academic, as noted in the previous post. Then I was going to write about scenarios you may face, here is what you need to consider, and plan out, before rolling out. However, I felt it would be more helpful to create this as a “workbook” for you to review, and use – look an assignment – cohort here I come…

Hence the Ready…Set…

HOLD

The Template – Coming in two weeks

To aid in all of this, I will be creating a cohort-based learning template – functionality/features wise that you will be able to download and use, when exploring vendors who either espouse that cohort-based exists in their system, or calls themselves cohort-based, and so forth.

HOLD

I will be checking out several systems that refer to themselves either as a cohort-based learning system (or similar) OR tap into it heavily. Then, I will post my results – quick takeaways of yes or no – with an added bonus, my top three who today are doing the best at this. Think of this document as a cheat sheet. It will be available for download on the Learning System Library in a new category called cohort-based learning. The Library is available today for you to check out materials, PDFs, ebooks, on a variety of topics, including some of my reports – everything is free. Free to read, free to download etc – a post going further into the library and now a new update for content, is coming. But, this is more along the “hey, cohort-based learning category” is coming and a cheat sheet you can use.

Here is my initial list (which will be growing) – and which will be available for folks to check out these systems in that, wait for it, cohort-based learning category. This will be expanded upon frequently, but for those who think – let me look now, and start to percolate about further exploration – after I see your feedback – angle:

  • qohubs – Be aware that for whatever reason, I am finding more cohort-based focused systems coming out of Europe than any other part of the world. Thus for folks whose approach is, “Well, we haven’t heard of them OR they are not based here X”, and need to expand your horizons and realize we live in a global market. Think this way – what is your television brand? Was it one of the biggest name brands out there or lesser known? Was it made only in your country or elsewhere?
  • qomenius – No relation to the one above. The term “group-based learning” appears either as a key describer or as the type – in some systems here. Cohort is far more than just sticking people in a group.
  • click.to – A common approach to cohort-based learning – well, common in the way, that it aligns as a standalone, that could be integrated as a bolt-on or add-on to an existing learning system, or talent platform or whatever
  • NovoEd – I’ve seen this system in-depth over the last 2.5 weeks. Lots to love here, but definitely some things need to be added, enhanced, etc. Post in two weeks, with the pros/areas to improve will include NovoEd. They have a new UI/UX update rolling out by the end of Q4, with some expanded feature sets – updating the mentor dashboard, for example. The first full throttle learning system, combining nearly all the components of cohort-based learning (that I wrote in my post). Not all though. But it’s close.
  • MentorCloud – They use learning pods, some cohort-based learning strategies/processes and mentors – the key part here. I’ve written about them in the past. Best new learning solution I’ve seen in 2022.

HOLD

If you conduct your search, at some point you are going to see the “other side” of cohort-based learning, expert creators selling uh, their expertise to lead a cohort. Think content creators with a twist – that being the facilitator or guide or main expert of the cohort (as one vendor of this approach notes “content creators turned teachers”). This is not the same as say a masterclass, so do not, think “okay, he is talking about a masterclass angle”, which I’m not. The problem with hiring an “expert” is uh, what does that really mean? Let’s say I am an expert in YouTube marketing. Great, what qualifies you as being a great guide or facilitator? Or understanding all the nuances of your (the client)’s training or L&D needs? The answer, zip.

It aligns more to folks seeking financial benefits (nothing wrong with that) by leveraging in some fashion their expertise in whatever category – and to get you or your company to buy. These folks exist on platforms, specifically designed for this approach.

To me, it reminds me of the days of people hiring “Experts” to do an on-site F2F seminar or activity. The only difference now? It’s online. There are systems out there, that refers to themselves as cohort-based or similar term marketplace.

This stretches the cohort-based angle, taking a couple of pieces and saying cohort-based learning. LinkedIn Learning follows this one aspect with their Learning Hub and “Live Office Hours with Experts” aspect. I can see them easily twisting this to cohort-based learning with mentors/experts. And yeah, you can become one too. No need to be jealous anymore.

  • Wespline – Yes, you – you drinking coffee right now – have you ever considered creating your own cohort-based learning environment? No, not your company – You, you my friend.. come to think of it….
  • Maven – Have you ever seen so many happy people on one screen – that isn’t a sporting event?
  • Teachfloor – Says they are a cohort-based learning platform, but again, it’s clear they are missing some features/understanding of what cohort actually is and isn’t. Anyway, seeking a new revenue channel on those days you are thinking, “I should create my own classes, I know more than my L&D department does when it comes leadership.”
  • Antwalk – Experts + Revenue Opps +Workforce Dev + some cool analytics. What’s with the names of some of these systems? I did find a system that had Candy (as part of its name), sadly they didn’t do any cohort or expert angle. Still, Candy as part of your system name. Does Bow Wow Wow know about them?
  • GrowthSchool – When masterclasses are not enough. Add expert one on many sessions. Yes, these is stretching the whole cohort angle, but they are a good example, of how easy it is to think this is cohort based, because they have a couple components.

HOLD

The other type of cohort-based learning systems, whereas they are designed with feature sets and capabilities and methodologies for say leadership development, technical skills, or general knowledge on various topics. Sort of reminds me as part platform and part content – but the content is the guided learning experience (still, overused here, so let’s say, guided learning and leave it a that). Coaches, Experts and Mentors are noted heavily with these.

Based on my initial analysis, these types of cohort-based learning systems, are more prominent than anyone else. Well, for the time being. They better be ready, because the other learning systems, that can take a combo LMS or LMS pieces and LXP or whatever else will be rolling in on their turf.

Fun fact – many of these systems have raised funding in the past year. A trend I surmise will continue.

This is a short list, there are many more.

  • Neol
  • Campfire – Leadership cohort-based learning
  • Utiva – Uses cohort-based capabilities (not all of them) to learn tech skills. I loved how they wrote about post-training value, including specific data points – 30 projects for example. They go Corporate and EdTech here.
  • Metvy – As they say in the pitch line, “Curated, P2P Learning, Mentoring and Networking Ecosystem” – I see these terms elsewhere and yes, an effective cohort-based learning platform must include mentoring and networking and P2P.
  • Modal – This is more of a system that yes can be a standalone – but could be integrated with your existing learning system(s) too. It is sort of all the stuff (a chunk of it) that you would use in conjunction with say other forms of learning online.

HOLD

Learning System vendors that are super close to adding cohort-based learning specific functionality, but today, you could leverage what they do have in their system to create your own learning pods with guided learning/facilitation and key analytics. They are not cohort-based learning (as noted in my previous blog post), but doing this or that, in the next six months could get them there, a tad quicker than say most.

  • Fuse – They have always been group/community angled here
  • Learn-In – Includes cohort-based learning components. This piece I suspect or something like it, will eventually roll into Degreed. And combined with whatever else Degreed is working on to go full cohort-based learning… The link is to Learn-In. They are not a full cohort-based learning system, but taps into a few items. Not a fan of the tuition assistance aspect though.
  • D2L – Tapping into the EdTech capabilities around synchronous learning -also has the web conferencing built-in. Needs quite more to truly so cohort-based, but again, if you are fine with, let’s do a bit – something guided, here you go.
  • Anthology – Again, leveraging their existing Synchronous based learning methodology. I wouldn’t use them, because one core product is Blackboard Learn, which I find underwhelming. That said, any learning system who plays heavy in EdTech Higher Ed space, they will have synchronous based format already in their system. And yes, I did find “cohort-based” expert angle with college kids too. Perhaps a match in the making.

Bottom Line

Cohort-based learning (online) is all the parts in the previous post, and also new parts yet to be discovered. That’s the thrill of it. But if my discovery of systems out there says anything, it once again points to the dark secret the learning system industry seems to ignore, blue-collar workers and service workers. Cohort-based learning (online) can do wonders here, yet those “expert-driven” systems, lack any such focus around it.

Perhaps I want to be the best Uber driver out there, why not have the option to connect with other Uber Drivers and learn using this manner? Select ones new, with ones that are experienced. Those in large cities, say London with ones in New York. Have a guide who knows Uber inside and out from the driving and dealing with customers and directions aspect. And incorporate it all.

That is what really offers to “IT” to me.

The Potential.

So start your journey of discovery, take a look at what is out there, and realize that if you thought the Learning System space couldn’t get any more crowded OR that cohort-based learning (online) is just groups and guided learning, see it, for what it is

Different. Potentially Impactful.

Beneficial if done and rolled out right (hence my workbook soon for you).

But it is more than groups. Or Synchronous based. OR Talking to a community of people online. OR social networking.

Those are just bits.

Not the entire experience.

E-Learning 24/7

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