Cohort-based learning is a learning approach where individuals assemble to learn and collaborate about a specific subject at the same time. It is a common and proven approach used for in-person, classroom settings. At CorpU, we created a leadership development platform that incorporates cohort-based learning methodology in a virtual environment. Since 2012, we have successfully delivered programs virtually to over 75,000 participants a year. Our online cohort-based learning approach mimics in-person learning in a scalable format. Content can be tailored to support participants across the globe, in different time zones and languages.
Throughout this experience, we’ve learned that focused, incremental, group-based learning that is delivered within a specified time, results in improved participation, increased engagement and conversations. This is instrumental to the overall success of the participants, teams and organizations.
Adapting Virtual Learning to Different Learning Styles
At CorpU, we understand that everyone learns differently, and we have incorporated a variety of teaching methods into our cohort-based learning platform. Every program includes asynchronous and synchronous learning. Asynchronous learning is designed to support learners who prefer to learn on their own and synchronous learning supports those who learn best through collaboration and discussion. Each program incorporates videos, readings, reflection opportunities, active learning activities, and opportunities to ask questions from peers and experts. This blend of teaching approaches helps improve and expedite the learning process.
Individual Learning vs. Cohort-Based Learning
Many online learning programs are completely self-paced. This approach is an effective way for an individual to learn new hard skills such as industry knowledge or technical skills. Cohort-based learning is ideal for helping participants understand and apply soft skills which is critical in leadership development. It is often said that people are hired for technical skills and fired for lack of soft skills. Modern leaders cannot simply rely on industry knowledge and technical skills. They must be proficient at soft skills so they can effectively work with managers, peers, and employees. A few of these skills include:
- Making team members feel valued and included
- Have difficult conversations with team members
- Advocate for new ideas and initiatives
- Effectively communicating up, across, and down the organizational chart
Benefits of Cohort-Based Learning
This approach to learning has a positive impact for participants, groups and companies.
Create Dialogue and Build Community
Online communities are an ideal place to foster relationships. Introverted participants have time and space to create and contribute to conversations in a safe environment while extroverts have an opportunity to discuss ideas during live, online events. The community aspect of cohort-based learning is what drives group success and is contingent upon each team member’s participation and involvement in the group. This creates a team dynamic and comradery to reach a common goal.
Fosters Accountability Within the Group
Accountability centers around individual responsibility and the role it plays in someone’s commitment to the team. As noted, the success of the community cohort is based on individual and team performance, which means it’s as equally important for team members to hold one another accountable as it is themselves. To encourage accountability, CorpU’s leadership development platform provides feedback to participants on how they are progressing in the program compared to the rest of the group. The platform also checks-in with participants who are lagging behind so that the group continues together throughout the program.
Creates Stronger Interaction and Engagement
Relationships develop as a result of community interaction. In an active, virtual cohort, team members take part in live exercises that include collaboration, participation and discussion. Most times, these activities include a reflection exercise where team members openly discuss their take on the team training initiative and how it relates to the workplace.
Like any learning experience, impact is driven by quality content that closely relates to a specific context and can be understood and applied by the learner. At CorpU, we have integrated the critical factors necessary to drive impactful learning that develops leaders, and strengthens team relationships in a relatively short period of time and at scale. This, among many things, is what makes cohort-based learning a successful tool for workplace growth.