Dornubari Vizor May 18, 2022

Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazing Cohort-Based Courses

Cohort-based learning has been shown to be an effective way of learning, and cohort-based courses have become more popular since the pandemic started. If you’re not familiar with the term, a cohort is simply a group of people studying together.

In a cohort-based course, students move through the material together and support each other in their learning.

The model is beneficial not only for students but also for creators because they are an excellent way to engage your audience and keep them coming back for more.

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Today we’re talking about:

  • What is cohort-based learning?
  • What are the differences between cohort-based learning and self-paced learning?
  • Pros of cohort-based courses for creators.
  • Pros of cohort-based courses for students.
  • Cons of cohort-based courses.
  • How to start a cohort-based course?

Let’s dive in!

What Is Cohort-based Learning?

A cohort learning path is a popular form of education in traditional classes. They’re typically made up of students who take the same course at one time and have standard requirements for graduation, like gateway courses that lead towards bachelor’s degrees or certificates.

The same can be applied to online education!

The cohort-based courses allow students from all over the world (studying at different times) to interact with one another through forums that help them work on assignments and earn certificate credits towards their degree without being physically present during every session.

The lessons are usually hosted live, and the result shows that students especially love this way of learning. Maintaining synchronous interaction between learners creates a more personal connection which builds deeper understanding than asynchronous approaches may offer while also allowing you greater flexibility.

The benefits of interactive communication between a student and fellow student in a classroom are proven to promote learning. When students have an inclusive and collaborative environment, they tend to be more optimistic about their course load!

In these types of courses, aside from live classes, students also can participate in mastermind sessions and get targeted feedback from the instructor.

Now we can combine the best of traditional education with internet possibilities and create the best possible virtual environment for learning.

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It seems like cohort-based courses are the turning point in online education. Let’s compare it to a self-paced approach, considered traditional education in the online world.

Cohort-based Courses vs. Self-paced Courses: What Are the Differences?

Unlike cohort learning, a self-paced course enables students to customize their education at a convenient time. The instructors’ role in this education system includes providing guidance and feedback on proficiency and offering tailored environments, so students learn efficiently without distraction or interference from others.

One of the most significant differences between these two approaches is the result of the learning process. The self-paced course is more effective in helping students remember and understand information. On the other hand, cohort learning takes a step forward, and after remembering and sharing their own understanding, students can apply, analyze, evaluate, and create with that information.

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Usually, the self-paced courses are seen as a more passive learning style than cohort-based courses, which require more involvement and are based on active learning.

Higher levels of engagement in cohort-based courses are for both students and instructors. Thus, social interaction and overall activity in the learning process are the critical differences between cohort-based and self-paced courses.

Here is the table that shows all differences between cohort-based and self-paced learning.

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Pros of Cohort-based Course

Let’s see all details of why this approach is favorable.

Benefits For Students

We outlined key aspects of this method to see how they benefit students.

Increased Responsibility

In self-paced courses, students are more likely to be irresponsible and quit. It’s much easier to put off studying, and many students lose consistency and the habit of learning.

For comparison, according to recent research, cohort courses have a completion rate of 85%, while Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have a rate of 3% to 6%.

On the other hand, students in the cohort model have better results in built-in accountability.

The cohort-based course work anticipates project-based work, schedules, deadlines, and timelines. So there’s an expectation that students come to class and have continuity. Cohort courses usually involve group work which researchers point out as crucial for students’ motivation.

Students seemingly want to participate and progress because they have a sense of community and don’t want to disappoint their co-students. Students in cohort courses are commonly more motivated, especially when they get affirmation and respect in the class.

Vary of attitudes

There is very little or no communication with other people in independent work. Communication is substantial for exchanging ideas and thoughts.

When we have people with different backgrounds and experiences, it is more likely to be powerful conversations about their opinions and attitudes, which don’t happen in self-paced learning.

This atmosphere may encourage students to explore new ideas and ways of thinking.


The pandemic has left a lot of people feeling lonely and isolated. While self-paced learning allows for more flexibility, it can be an isolating learning experience.

Some people can feel lonely and discouraged when they don’t have anyone else to talk with about what’s going on or share strategies for tackling challenges that come up along the way. Students are guided to form communities within these virtual classrooms in cohort programs. Hence, they can always exchange ideas or offer help to someone who might need it.

It is not uncommon for students to rely on each other when they face challenges during their schooling process. This can lead them into an environment where everyone has empathy and understands what it feels like at the bottom of one’s boots.

In addition, learning in the community may help individual students expand both professional networks and personal connections, which could prove beneficial later down life pathways!

Active Learning

Students form a more active environment in cohort model courses because this model calls for applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating study materials. With debates, case studies, problem-solving, and role-play, students stay actively involved during the class.

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Benefits For Creators

Besides motivated and successful students, cohort courses benefit creators in many other ways.

Feedback Loop

When teaching a class, it is essential to use feedback to know what information your students still don’t understand. By engaging in discussions with them about their thoughts and questions on the material covered thus far and any additional topics they might want to be addressed at home or school before coming back for another session, we can identify knowledge gaps.

It will be easier for us to create supportive content to fill those empty spaces by clarifying uncertain points.

Personalized Tutoring at Scale

Although you have a group of students in cohort coaching instead of a one-to-one approach, it is high touch. You are in a position to help more students for the same time you would spend teaching just one student.

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When one student asks a question, probably at least one other student has the same thing in mind. Instead of repeatedly answering the same question to each student, you reply to the entire group.

With cohort-based courses, you can tutor dozens of students simultaneously and still have highly personal coaching that is easy to scale.

Learning Based on Students’ Strength

Strenght-based learning is a new teaching method that concentrates on students’ strength instead of their learning gaps. Unlike traditional learning, it builds students’ self-esteem and expands their talents.

When you’re aware of your students’ strengths, you can adapt and improve your cohort-based course. Cohort-based courses are customizable if you feel that the original plan has to be changed to suit your students better.

With a strength-based learning cohort, you will have:

  • Happier and more motivated students.
  • Better students’ activities.
  • Higher success rates.

More Relevant Educational Content

Since the cohort-based courses rely on strength-based learning, your content is continuously updated and upgraded. Creators update on the fly every time they teach, and thanks to that, coaching programs are evolving with the time. In situations of market changes, you can change and adapt your cohort-based course with it.

The same goes for the students’ changes – when it happens, you will modify your course, and it will stay relevant and valuable!

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Convenient Planning

If the changing part scares you, don’t worry, it’s not complicated!

The hard part is to design your course. After that, everything goes smoothly.

You just need to add your course schedule to the calendar for each group of new students. It’s easy because you’ll follow the plan and teach the same lessons in the same order when you have a planned course. Not that it just gets easier with planning, yet it gets easier for you to show up for your students, teach them and answer questions.

Straightforward Selling

Since you planned your entire course – what are the lessons when you teach them and how – it is easier to do effective marketing for your course. To improve your marketing, consider including videos of student testimonials, positive impressions from forums and Facebook groups, and images of your cohorts.

Also, due to the higher involvement of students and instructors, the average price is higher for cohort courses than for self-paced courses. If you decide to create a cohort-based course, you can price it as a premium product and potentially scale. Recommended pricing is somewhere between the cost of a self-paced course and coaching.

Improving Your Skills

We already mentioned it, but it’s necessary to point it out. With cohort-based courses, you as a creator are building your confidence!

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Since this model requires public speaking and organizing a large group of people, you surely can improve or gain new skills. Even if this seems like something out of your comfort zone, it is the opportunity to help yourself fight barriers and anxiety. Consider it as a practice for your confidence!

Convenient to Be Outstanding

In a cohort model, you have an opportunity to stand out from others in a competitive online course market. Direct communication between you as a creator and your students in real-time will probably be the huge reason why they want to sign up.

Most students value the possibility of discussing with their instructor and their peers. Of course, a larger number of people attending your class will help pass recommendations by word of mouth.

Cons of Cohort-Based Course

Maybe the ”cons” is not the right word in this case because cohort-based programs are instead ”challenges” that you, as a course creator, should keep in mind.


Despite the number of people (or their age), every educator has to have managing and organization skills. This method requires group work, challenging individuals, managing group dynamics, and establishing rules, rituals, and goals. You can’t forget that a group can be impeded without discipline and structure.

To avoid this tension problem, educators must have clear boundaries and expectations from the beginning of the course.

Remember what we said about engagement – it involves you as a tutor as well! The most successful cohort-based courses have creators who are constantly involved and prompting their students, discussions, and always thinking about new activities and methods. Your classes need discipline, but so do you – keep right on the truck.


Participation is crucial because without people enrolled, you would have cohort-based coursework. You always keep in mind that your marketing course is half-job done.

Another ‘half’ of a successful job is always to be ready to break the ice during class discussions if your students are shy or less engaged. Your role is not just to give them information. You have to inspire them, motivate them, and encourage them!

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Different Techniques And Skill Levels

We think this is the biggest challenge for creators. Since the basic idea of cohort-based courses is an interactive, immersive experience for students, educators have to use different techniques to help their students be interested and have a unique learning experience.

This is the opposite of what we usually see in e-learning – static video, formal training, pre-recorded content, and individual students.

Further, one group has people with different backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge about the topic. It’s challenging to design a plan to suit every individual in the group.

The best advice is to understand your students’ skill levels before launching a course. On GroupApp, you can create multiple channels within one community, and separate the students based on their level of knowledge, so more skilled ones are in the same channel.

Either way, be sure that your course popularity will be high if you adjust the course material to your students’ level of skills.

How to Start a Cohort-based Course?

Whether you already have experience in creating courses or are new to digital coaching, thanks to GroupApp, it will be easy to start.

If you already have your self-paced course or coaching online program, you can make a transition to a cohort-driven course approach easy.

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Establish Target Audience

To create an engaging, effective, and efficient course for your target audience, you need to understand who they are. Researching their needs will help guide the direction to creating content that should evolve and provide more clarity on learning outcomes.

We want our students to achieve extraordinary results by participating in this particular program or initiative – creating holistic exit strategies can be challenging!

Set a Price

It’s time to price your course! A cohort-based program is generally priced higher than self-paced and less personalized coaching.

Research competitors to find out what they’re charging for their courses before deciding how much you want to charge or if this product will resonate with potential customers.

Make a Sales Page

Create a sales page that targets the audience you’re trying to reach. This gives your students a place for more information, prices, and schedule times to ensure they don’t miss any classes.

GroupApp has multiple features you can use to promote your content and make it more appealing, such as coupons, special promotions, and trial periods.

You can also use this opportunity to pre-selling courses or get people on waitlists before officially launching programs, so there will be no delays when it launches later down the road.

Establish the Course Structure

You need to plan all information about your own classroom’s course, structure, and course material.

With online learning, you have to decide which course platform you will use. Do your research on all the tools that can help you structure your cohort-based course. Our recommendation is GroupApp because it has all the necessary features you need for designing a practical synchronous or asynchronous experience.

Plan a Curriculum

Now that you’ve got the structure of your course planned out, it’s time to design a curriculum. Map out how all lessons will fit into this framework, so there are no gaps or confusion about what needs doing when! GroupApp features a Course Outline Page that can help you complete this task.

Where to Launch Your Cohort Course?

After researching and planning, it’s finally the time to launch your course!

Where to launch my new course, you might ask? Let us introduce GroupApp – a community platform built for online course creators!


Cohort-based courses have many advantages over self-paced ones, like support network for students, more engaged and motivated students, and the use of multiple learning tools and techniques, which result in a better student experience.

If you are looking for a platform on which you can create and host your cohort-based course, let us introduce you to GroupApp.

GroupApp features all of the tools you may need to create, host, and monetize your knowledge and skills. GroupApp’s course builder allows you to embed videos, forms, and PDF files your students need for learning and easy-to-use tools for organizing your courses.

It also allows you to track your students’ progress and offer a helping hand to those who need it through direct messaging.

Another benefit of GroupApp is that it eliminates the need to use multiple platforms to manage your students. GroupApp aims to provide course creators with every tool and feature possible so no one will need to use other sources.

You, as a creator, and your students have all in one place. You can create a community, organize members in different public and private channels, and encourage them to share ideas in Activity Feed.

Moreover, GroupApp gives you complete control of members, content, subscriptions, and statistics through an admin dashboard.

GroupApp is a simple way to interact with your students and audience anywhere. It’s available on iOS and Android devices and other platforms!

The app also connects through social networks, which means we’ll never have an issue finding someone who has direct access – even if that person isn’t online right now- because our software will automatically send them notifications about upcoming events anyway.

Final Thoughts

Now you have a complete picture of cohort-based courses and all of the notes to keep in mind before creating your own course.

GroupApp offers a seamless experience for creating and managing your online courses. You can provide learners with ongoing guidance, feedback, and community support through our platform built specifically to suit your needs best!

Sign up for GroupApp and check for yourself!

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