Course Creators Weekly #35 🗓 February 22nd, 2021 - How to run a cohort-based course
This week is all about cohort-based courses!
Julia Saxena shares some invaluable tips on the operational side of running cohort-based courses, Andrew Barry writes about transformational group learning, while Reza Saeedi and Nate Kadlac talk about their experiences as participants in such courses.
This article from Julia Saxena is PACKED with practical tips on how to run a cohort-based course—possibly the most actionable piece of content I've shared in this newsletter!
- Make sure students always know what to expect, when, how, and where
- Set up a separate calendar, schedule Zoom calls on it, then share it with your students
- Design an elaborate onboarding process to better understand and help your students
- Ask students to rate their current skill set, creating a snapshot of their starting point
- Create an onboarding email, with all the key information in one place
- Invite your students to an onboarding call, either 1:1 or in small groups
- Send reminders before live sessions—explain how to join or find the recording later
- Make sure to record, and pause the recording if/while students are in breakout rooms
- Upload the recording, the slides and the chat soon after each session
- Email students after each session—recap what's been discussed + next steps
- Check in with students directly + make sure they're comfortable reaching out to you
- Set up a knowledge base or resource hub for the most commonly asked questions
- Create an elaborate offboarding process—it's just as important as your onboarding
- Ask for testimonials, and be specific (e.g. why they joined, what they've achieved)
- Create space to provide ongoing support to students, either directly or indirectly
My summary above only scratches the surface of what Julia covers in her article. Make sure to check it out for more tips and detailed examples of how to do everything you just read.
If you feel you don't have a big enough audience to build a cohort-based course, you'll definitely enjoy Julia's mini-essay on Twitter: How to start a cohort-based course without starting a cohort-based course.
- Prompt learners to reflect and define their purpose at the outset, and return to it often
- Let students opt in to and choose their own Journey (mentor) groups
- Keep the groups small, up to 15–20 people—allow room for creative solo work too
- Empower group members to take charge of and influence group activities
- Encourage facilitators to elevate members' voices and give personalised support
- Give quick feedback, avoid personal attacks, and lower the stakes to lift pressure
- Incentivise group members to apply themselves and become your evangelists
- Create space for off-topic discussions, to strengthen bonds in the community
To learn more, you should definitely check out the article!
This one's a bit different. It's a conversation between Reza and Nate, about their experience as participants in cohort-based courses. Some fresh perspective…
What makes cohort-based courses so great:
- CBCs cultivate diverse, multi-cultural viewpoints and conversations
- Participants get to meet like-minded people and form long-lasting relationships
- They create a sense of belonging, especially if participants are pre-vetted
What makes them challenging:
- They are difficult to scale while still allowing participants to bond as a community
- People with widely varying backgrounds and abilities need different information
- People buy courses for the outcome they promise (e.g. Reza joining BASB)
- The line between courses and communities has been blurred—they lead to each other