I'm going to make a prediction. I'm going to go to the extent of saying that if you're an online cohort-based course, 2023 is going to be your year. I say this because I see a few key trends at play here - I'll cover what they are and what it means for you (and your creator career).
1. 2023 will see more people investing in buying online cohort-based courses
2. 2023 will see more people investing in creating online cohort-based courses
Fun fact: these two predictions feed each other.
Where am I coming from?
Let's zoom out and look at what happened during 2020-21 that changed a lot of things. Pandemic changed the pace of digital adoption - the level of digitisation that we anticipated would come in 2027-2030, has already arrived.
Zoom, Skype, Slack, etc. - all these tools have been around for years. I've been using Zoom and Slack for the last 5 years. But today, everyone right from the kids to pets (separated from their owners) use Zoom.
There was once I had to bring my family to use Skype, and I had to send them a pre-recorded tutorial as to how to operate it - also had to send a download link and a lot of instructions. But now everyone on the planet earth (arguably) understands how video conferencing works.
What this has done is - it has made online education legitimate. Online learning has existed for over a decade, but it's always been looked down upon as superficial.
I'm not advocating the case here that everything should happen online forever. I do see the value in offline.
All I'm saying is that humans are doing a lot more online, than humanity ever thought was possible.
The second major factor - is career switching. The job landscape has shaken up. Many jobs were lost, and some of them are now gone forever.
For example, as a result of people working remotely, most office admin jobs and clerical jobs became redundant. And, due to automation in many areas, some manual jobs like data entry were gone. There was increased demand in digital products like video conferencing tools which led to increasing jobs in areas like development.
What happened as a result of this?
Companies moving remote-first opened up the job market globally, the best talent can now work with whoever and wherever - this led to 'The Great Resignation'. All in all, the pandemic has shaken the job landscape in more ways than one.
There's one side of the market that wants to upskill, become more stable and relevant. And, another side, that has extra time due to remote work, and wants a side hustle (in a bid to diversify income). All of this has shot up the demand for education in digital skills.
In my cohort-based courses, I've trained over 500 students in online marketing. And now, I see some of them, running their online courses and coaching for copywriting, personal branding, e-commerce, etc with global audiences - because the demand for digital skills is so high.
Due to digital adoption and people becoming more open to learning online, you can now teach your knowledge and expertise to all parts of the world. All of this today is possible with a click of a few buttons.
Which led me to the most important observation - the rise of cohorts.
Cohort-based learning has seen an unprecedented 85% completion rate as compared to self-paced learning.
I am going to be giving you 3 important deal-breakers why cohorts trump self-paced learning:
1. A strong "why" is needed for humans to complete something
Accountability is that "why" in CBCs. The forced scarcity of the start and the end date of the cohort adds a sense of urgency and focus.
One more reason cohort-based courses can have more accountability is that they are bi-directional.
There’s an exchange of knowledge between the instructor and students. And there is also interactions of students with fellow students.
2. A good cohort allows you to ask questions and learn better
With self-paced learning, you might come across a point where you are stuck and don’t really know the next steps.
I remember this one incident where I was doing an online course and was stuck with one concept. I became so frustrated that I gave up and did not complete the course just because of that.
In a cohort, people who are even slightly ahead of you, will help you navigate through the skill fast and give you the right direction and guidance.
Your decision-making and doubt-solving skills will dramatically improve. With the added advantage of the community, learning will become faster and fun for you.
3. You get direct access to your guide/mentor
Learning in a cohort gives you access to the expert who is in charge of the cohort and also the learning community.
Self-paced learning only provided access to materials and content. But with a cohort you get to solve problems real-time and get genuine feedback and access.
This access is what makes people pay a premium price.
Now, what does this mean for people like you and me?
1. There are more people out there than ever before ready to learn online.
2. Now that the problem of low completion rates has been solved, there'll be more instructors online creating cohort-based courses.
Does the point #2 make you insecure? It should not, because we're only at the beginning of the wave. Online education is projected to be a ~$1 Trillion industry , it's not a wave that'd just pass you by. It has been a long time coming for the last decade, but 2020-21 is the point that set it up for explosion, thanks to cohort-based courses. It's potent for countless full-time career / business opportunities with full-time returns.
If you've started already, congratulations on nailing the timing. If you're considering getting started, congratulations on spotting the opportunity. Do not wait any longer - you have every reason to jump in. The stage is set for massive scalability.
Having run a cohort myself and personally mentoring over 500 students with a >65% completion rate (avg cohort length ~16 weeks), I would love to help you get started.
The biggest hurdle is in choosing the right tools. Since the trend is new, there are a bunch of unpolished and incomplete tools available out there.