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Argumentation for Cohort Based Courses

The problem with traditional online courses MOOCs

MOOC stands for massively open online courses.

  • low completion rate just 3 to 6 percent 1
    • no build in urgency, when you can watch/learn anytime
  • only for one-directional learning with no (immediate) opportunity for questions in real-time. So MOOCs primarily for knowledge transfer.

Main reasons for learning with CBCs

  • What is scarce in online learning is community.
  • much higher completion rate than MOOCs (example altMBA 96% completion rate)
  • for teaching anything that requires feedback, discussion, hands-on practice
  • for developing higher-order skills that require analysis, evaluation, synthesis, judgement and creativity. (not sure how CBCs support on all these skills. Likely a cohorts adds the group element to the skills and complements the solo variant of e.g. analysis)

Argumentation for better learning via CBC

  • Interleaving learning - instructors mix different topics, ideas and activities with intentionally switching between them
    • e.g. via breakouts, role-play, discussions, debates with instructor or fellow-learners
  • engaging and real-time instead of passive and solo
  • learning manifests with more efforts taken while making mistakes, stumbling, pitching, iterating, drawing inspiration and learning from each other
  • interactive processing as most powerful approach to comprehension and retention 2
    • discussions and debates produce new ideas and points of view
  • bi-directional learning - exchange of knowledge between instructor and learner with and learner with fellow learners
  • social interaction helps learners to achieve their goals
    • longer term support of each other also after the course itself
  • (likely needed) accountability and urgency that comes from time constraints of a live course

Some building blocks of CBCs

  • live lectures with instructors
  • active participation in conversations
  • applied learning exercises
  • fixed start and end date to enforce real-time aspect and create scarcity (assumption: scarcity as driver for engagement)
  • build in social contract
    • assumption: via gaining reputation when showing up and/or not leaving the group hanging
    • assumption: being in a learning community real-time is a scarce moment too


  • Source: [[Midjourney V6 prompts examples/030-039 Areas/32 Zettelkasten/Literature notes/Matter/In Online Ed, Content Is No Longer King-Cohorts Are]]
  • [[post_print-MOOC_Pivot.pdf| Study showing low completion rate of MOOCs]]
  1. [[post_print-MOOC_Pivot.pdf| Study showing low completion rate of MOOCs]] 

  2. Book [[Cooperative Learning - Spencer Kagan Miguel Kagan]] 

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