Why community, cohort-based courses are the future of learning

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

Online learning can be a lonely and isolating experience - but there's a better way, which involves mentorship, community and peer-to-peer support.

In the past decade, online course platforms have created a real information revolution in which almost any individual can have access to upskilling and learning opportunities. However, the main problem is that most self-paced online learning platforms offer content that rarely engages learners for long and most of them end up dropping out (Mooc's graduation rates are around 5-10%). That's because the social aspect of learning, the discussions, debates and exchanges between learners is largely absent in this format.

Most learners start out motivated with huge hopes to go through a transformational and meaningful experience, but end up feeling lonely and disengaged, and end up dropping out and giving up on their goals.

This leaves many instructors and course creators scratching their heads, asking themselves what they did wrong and what could they do to make the experience better.

Community as the core of the learning experience

Although learning has always relied on the individual process of the learner, the actual context in which those changes occurred was a social environment involving other people. Only in the past few years, with the appearance of self-paced learning platforms, learning has become an isolated experience.

All aspects of education and personal growth should include community and collaboration. The role social interactions play in facilitating learning and improving learner engagement is massive - through community, learning gets an important excess that unlocks real opportunities for growth and personal development.

A successful community is one that its members interact in a meaningful way that deepens their understanding of each other and leads to meaningful learning. In a community setting, the learners—including the facilitator—are enriched by collective meaning-making, mentorship, encouragement, accountability and an understanding of the different perspectives and unique qualities of the participants.

And that's what the cohort-based format offers and why it is so effective - a real time learning experience in which learners go through a shared journey and support each other to achieve their mutual goals.

Adult learners today demand more from course creators

Learners today learn best from instructors that can offer immersive learning experiences through discussions and stories that stem from the instructor’s own relevant experiences, more than what they could just get from reading a book or watching pre-recorded content.

Individuals today read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos but they still end up stuck at the same place - so how would another self-pace video course make any difference?

Adding to that, there are certain topics that require guidance and social interaction to truly be absorbed (strategy, leadership, confidence etc) – where there is no definitive correct answer and require discussion and debate, social interaction can deepen a participant’s connection with the learning process and with the instructor.

The industry has been too busy focusing on the problem of access to learning and content (which is not much of a problem anymore), instead on the problem of curated and effective learning.

And there is a whole new generation of course creators, knowledge entrepreneurs and facilitators who understand this shift and are building new experiences to accommodate their audience's need for community and engagement.

Community focused learning experiences are the future of learning and personal development

The learning industry should be moving towards creating a learning environment where both instructors and learners create maximum value and learning opportunities by bringing their unique skills and experiences to the table, and offer instructors REAL agency, and the learners real time support and accountability.

The challenge is, that creators who wish to create such experiences encounter a cumbersome process that requires using multiple different tools and struggle to scale their courses. Additionally, these creators often struggle with the creation process and end up stuck in analysis paralysis mode.

Clustered is bringing back the cohort model to online learning

At Clustered, we made it our mission to help creators deliver a premium learning experience at scale. Learning on Clustered takes place in small clusters on our mobile app - learners get a chance to interact, get immediate feedback and be pushed by the progress of their peers while getting curated content from their instructor.

On the creator side, they get access to a powerful combo of live + asynchronous facilitation tools that save them valuable time and provide extra value to their members, as well as a powerful community of creators and educational innovators who are there to support them through this journey.

The Clustered experience takes place within a tight group, that pushes learners to be fully engaged with their instructor and fellow cluster members, thus guaranteeing them better learning results, and offer creators a better way to engage with their audience.

At Clustered, we see the creator's individuality and unique personal experience as a major important feature that needs to be emphasized and built upon. We believe that you don't have to have 100,00 followers to make a difference - you need to have experience, expertise and the passion to help others.

What can you do on the Clustered app?

  • Stimulate discussions and collaborations - Facilitate conversations to promote motivation, accountability and sharing between your Cluster members.

  • Manage and share valuable content with your Cluster - Share engaging content customized to your members' needs: Exercises, articles, podcasts, videos etc.

  • Track your members' progress - Keep track of your members' progress and wishes using polls, questionnaires and forms.

  • Showcase and sell your course on Clustered - Create a unique page for your course on Clustered to easily get students to sign up!

  • Take payments for your course - Safely take payments and get paid for your courses and group experiences via Stripe's easy to use integration

... and more! Check out our features page to learn more.

What kind of learning experiences can you create using Clustered?

There are so many options of the kind of group and community learning experiences you can create!

This kind of experiences usually:

  • Focus on peer to peer collaboration and sharing.

  • Provide frequent feedback on a learner's unique challenges.

  • Give the learner a larger role in their learning journey.

  • Increases learner's attention and engagement.

  • Offer the learner access to curated content by the facilitator.

Here are just a few examples:

Cohort-based courses

Group Coaching programs

Mastermind groups

And many more such as workshops, bootcamps, fellowships, accelerator programs...

Get started with Clustered today by applying for early access!

You can check out our Getting Started Guide here.