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eLearning Strategy, Leadership, eLearning Trends

Cohort-Based Learning: Powering Through Collaboration

Sep 29, 2023
|
Parthasarathy Vinukonda
Blog on Cohort-Based Learning: Powering Through Collaboration

Summary: After MOOCs, it's time for cohort-based learning. Organizations are constantly looking for novel ways to improve employee Learning and Development in today's dynamic corporate environment. It's time to democratize learning, and a cohort-based approach would be a good step in the right direction.

What Is Cohort-Based Learning?

Cohort-based learning is not a new term. It has been quite popular in higher education setups where students complete their assigned tasks in groups within the given time.

In a professional setting, cohort-based learning involves classifying employees into groups based on shared learning goals or professional development requirements. As they advance through a structured program together, these cohorts set out on a shared learning journey. Workshops, discussions, and group projects are frequently included in the learning experience. Employees can share experiences, learn from one another, and collectively advance their skills and knowledge in a supportive, collaborative environment fostered by the cohorts.

In this article, we'd like you to keep an eye on five keywords. They are community, interactivity, accountability, interoperability, and impact.

Why Adopt Cohort-Based Learning?

Humans, as we know, are social creatures and creatures of habit. Social learning or distributed learning systems, as propounded by theories of Vygotsky and others, always emphasized collaboration as an important aspect of learning. Vygotsky called this concept of learning a zone of proximal development. In this model, he emphasized the importance of learning through communication and interactions with others rather than just through independent work. This led to what we know today as group learning.

Reasons for adopting cohort-based learning are enumerated below.

1. Peer-To-Peer Learning And Collaboration

The main advantage of cohort-based or collaborative learning is the peer-to-peer learning and collaboration that the learners undertake. Through collaboration, there is healthy discussion and also the development of critical thinking abilities. Learners who learn together tend to think deeply about the problems and come up with real-world solutions for them.

2. Learning Communities And Continuing Learning Culture

There is a development of learning communities and a greater emphasis on a continuous learning culture. Learning communities encourage the participants to learn together and learn continuously. Using platforms like KREDO, learners can learn concepts together, discuss through forums, and develop a healthy mindset towards learning in general.

3. Upskilling And Reskilling

Organizations looking to develop their teams by upskilling and reskilling them will need to look towards cohort-based learning as an excellent methodology to achieve their goals. Using cohort-based learning, learning can be accelerated, and the goal of upskilling and reskilling can be achieved. The reasons as aforementioned are related to the intrinsic nature of learning or, rather, the learning mindset. At the same time, we have many learners who do want to learn asynchronously at their own pace.

Cohort-based learning recognizes these paradigms and apparent contradictions. In cohort-based learning, the emphasis is to combine the best of classroom or face-to-face training and standardized digital learning alongside collaborative elements to make learning an organic and fun process.

How Can Cohort-Based Learning Be Implemented In The Corporate Learning Environment?

Cohort-based learning is now picking up in the corporate environment as well.

Let's look at some steps to implement cohort-based learning:

  • Identify and define clear learning goals and objectives aligned with organizational objectives.
  • Create cohorts based on relevant criteria, such as job roles, skill levels, or specific learning needs.
  • Develop a structured curriculum with various modalities, such as online modules, classroom workshops, and post-training assignments/projects. Online cohort-based learning courses use a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning, as well as encourage them to take up group assignments, or sometimes break-out sessions through Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) and classroom games or activities.
  • Foster collaboration and interaction through learning platforms with features like discussion forums and collaborative tools. Learners are encouraged to collaborate during the coursework as well as utilize opportunities to interact with each other through online discussion forums and utilize chat features to clear queries and learn better.
  • Assign experienced mentors or facilitators to support each cohort and provide guidance. Under the tutelage or guidance of a mentor, sometimes they are asked to complete courses, take up assignments, as well as complete the summative assessment, leading sometimes to certifications within the same timeframe or schedules.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer learning through group discussions, collaborative projects, and knowledge sharing. Other elements of cohort-based learning include but are not limited to using surveys and polls to find out more about the subject matter and discussing the findings.
  • Incorporate practical application through exercises, case studies, or simulations.
  • Provide regular feedback and assessment to monitor participant progress and offer guidance.
  • Foster a learning community by encouraging networking and ongoing support among participants.
  • Evaluate the program regularly, gather feedback, and iterate to improve its effectiveness.

Modern learning platforms such as KREDO incorporate all the collaborative elements for better learning outcomes. We believe that a mentor is required to drive cohort-based learning. It is not exactly an administrator-driven activity, but rather a mentor-driven activity.

Any business group can choose in-house experts as mentors, who can then drive cohort-based learning. Mentors can create cohorts among their teams and ask them to research a topic, upload materials, and go through bite-sized learning. KREDO has features that encourage people to explore cohort-based learning.

Cohort-based learning is a no-brainer today. Why?

  • Help is always around the corner, more often than not.
  • The course outline can be realigned based on learner capabilities.
  • Group discussions, group assignments, group reviews, etc., all have a deeper sense of being done.
  • Each learner holds the fort for another; in other words, there is more accountability.
  • Interoperability is taken to a whole new dimension.

Benefits And Impact Of Cohort-Based Learning

As mentioned earlier, there are several benefits that can be derived from cohort-based learning:

  • As cohort-based learning courses have deadlines and schedules, learners show better interest and focus on completing the courses. This means better accountability and overall better completion rates.
  • Organizations or L&D specifically can track learners' progress and assign other elements such as assignments, and assessment modules when the courses are complete.
  • There is a strong element of learner interaction. Learners interact with each other, leading to better learning outcomes and shared responsibility.
  • As learners interact, their motivation and interest in learning don't go down. In cohort-based learning, the instructor interacts with the cohorts, answers their queries, and provides personalized attention.
  • There is a shared sense of community as well as group learning.
  • There is a better chance of applying the learning to the job due to better retention of the concepts learned during the courses.

Conclusion

To conclude, cohort-based learning helps derive better learning outcomes, better retention of concepts, and better completion rates of the courses. It also helps develop critical thinking and apply learning to the job. Cohort-based learning promotes collaboration, a sense of community, and significant professional growth by grouping employees into small groups, or cohorts.

At Tesseract Learning, our learning and visual architects are constantly innovating and reinventing their approaches to design, develop, and deliver better learning experiences. We are leveraging our powerful learning platform, KREDO, to create efficiencies across the training life cycle and to deliver optimal learning experiences. We provide end-to-end execution of the complete Learning and Development cycle and learning consultation.

To know how our content offerings can give an edge to your corporate training, and help achieve your L&D goals and objectives, contact us or write to us at <suresh@tesseractlearning.com>

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