In 2010, Mass Online Open Courses (MOOCs) revolutionised education, as they enabled people across the world to advance their education online through studying digital courses at their own pace. However, over the last decade, limitations and downsides of the MOOC learning model have come to light and both completion rates, as well as uptake of these courses, have slowed. Education providers are now beginning to shift towards a cohort-based learning model, as it has proven to be a more effective method of delivering courses to adults through a more immersive experience.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for online education is higher than ever, and cohort-based learning is fast becoming the preferred mode of delivery for students seeking educational courses.
How Adults Learn
The main difference between older and younger learners is that education is a requirement for children; adults make decisions for themselves. As a result, adults are self-motivated to achieve their own learning goals.
For adult learning, cooperation is perceived as being preferred over individual learning. The concept is that of “divided we fall, united we stand” (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 1991). Adults who are anxious about upskilling may find encouragement from their peers, while the more confident peer can learn to be compassionate and inclusive.
When adults work with others, they can enhance their knowledge and skills quicker than when working individually. As workload is shared, information can be distributed faster, which can result in adult learners reaching their goals more efficiently and more thoroughly. By learning together, adult learners also have the opportunity to develop social skills and teamwork, which are skills that will assist with obtaining and furthering employment opportunities.
What Is Cohort-Based Learning?
Cohort-based learning is a type of collaborative learning where groups of people advance through the stages of a learning program together. This type of learning is being used more often in online learning environments, as recent advances in workforce communication tools adoption have removed barriers to creating genuine connections online.
Digital cohort-based learning can positively impact the learners’ career and business’ bottom line. Learning in a cohort provides a more interactive and immersive experience, as learners can share and discuss the course material as they are working through it. That increases the likelihood of course completion, and learners can directly apply the knowledge picked up.
The Benefits of Cohort-Based Learning for Adult Learners
Online cohort-based learning presents many benefits to learners. Many prefer cohort-based learning over self-paced learning due to the sense of community and camaraderie that they experience when learning in a group setting.
The following are some of the benefits that learners experience with cohort-based learning:
· Collaboration: With cohort-based programs, learners experience social interaction and collaboration, which creates a sense of community and enhance the entire learning journey. That can be particularly important for an online environment, where it helps learners become more engaged with the program.
· Support: Cohort-based learning facilitates easy connections between learners, peers, and facilitators. Learners can quickly and easily connect with their cohort if they need assistance with a project, want to discuss something in detail, or looking for encouragement and motivation.
· Structure: Cohort-based learning provides a structure for learners. Because everyone progresses through the course in tandem, all learners must adhere to set deadlines. In addition, the peers can hold each other accountable and motivated to complete assigned tasks and contribute to discussions.
· Perspective: As cohort members engage with each other, they get to know different people with new ideas and opinions. That differentiates cohort-based learning from self-paced learning, where the latter requires the learner to be completely self-sufficient.
· Networking: Learning in a cohort allows learners to meet new people, which makes it easy for them to network and build relationships with their peers.
Cohort-based learning is the future of workplace learning – transforming learning experiences through peer-to-peer collaboration to drive deep engagement, build capability and shift mindsets.
An online learning community platform, Cahoot Learning designs cohort-based learning programs and activities that enable learners to work collaboratively to achieve their learning goals. Our courses allow learners to solve real-world problems, arming them with the tools that let them apply their learnings in their roles.