The Rise of Cohort-Based Learning: How Lemon is Changing the Landscape of Online Education

Lemon's technology reshapes cohort-based learning, offering a dynamic, personalized, and collaborative environment for learners worldwide.

The Rise of Cohort-Based Learning: How Lemon is Changing the Landscape of Online Education
Doriane Stagnol
Doriane Stagnol

The Rise of Cohort-Based Learning: How Lemon is Changing the Landscape of Online Education

As the world continues to pivot towards digital experiences, the realm of education is no exception. Traditional  classroom-based education has been gradually shifting towards online platforms, sparking a transformation that Lemon has been at the forefront of. But the journey towards online education is about more than just shifting from physical to digital delivery - it's about reimagining how we learn. One concept has become a game changer in this space: cohort-based learning. Let’s dive into what this is and how it's influencing the education landscape. 

What is Cohort-Based Learning?

Cohort-based learning is a system where a group of students - called a cohort - start, progress through, and finish a course together, facilitated by instructors or mentors. This approach creates a community-driven learning environment that encourages peer interaction and collaboration. 

Instead of the traditional solo journey through online courses, cohort-based learning fosters a shared experience, cultivating a sense of camaraderie, mutual growth, and a dynamic knowledge exchange.

The Evolution of Education: From Traditional Learning to MOOCs and the Advent of Cohort-Based Learning

Education has always been the backbone of societal advancement, and its evolution tells a compelling story. It all began with traditional classrooms, a model still prevalent but increasingly making room for more modern, innovative approaches

The 4 waves of online education. Source: adapted from Forte Labs: <a href=" />

The Age of Traditional Learning: A One-Size-Fits-All Approach

In the early 20th century, a conventional education system was developed to equip learners with fundamental literacy and numeracy skills. A ranking system was established, sorting students to determine their progress: either continuing to further education or immediate entry into the workforce.

The traditional model of education was not inherently flawed; rather, it's increasingly seen as outdated. With the barriers of race, culture, geography, and gender falling away, modern schools aim to cultivate a nurturing environment where every student can reach their potential. Unfortunately, the standardized approach fails to consider the diverse range of experiences, skills, and knowledge that students bring to the table. A more personalized approach to education holds the key to unlocking improved outcomes.

Benjamin Bloom, a renowned psychologist and educator, suggested this as early as 1984. He encouraged the academic community to adopt the successful aspects of individual or small-group tutoring. Technology has since made personalized education more affordable and efficient, with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) leading the way.

What any person in the world can learn, almost all persons can learn if provided with appropriate prior and current conditions of learning.  Benjamin Bloom

The MOOCs Era: A Taste of Open Access Learning

The roots of MOOCs can be traced back to the OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative by MIT in 2001. It revolutionized learning by providing free access to course materials online. The first official MOOC, "Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCK08)," was launched in 2008, attracting 2,200 students globally.

However, the appeal of MOOCs has waned over time, with completion rates as low as 3%. Several factors contributed to this decline, including inconsistent course quality, high dropout rates, limited access to course credits, and ineffective assessments. The need for a more engaging, personalized learning approach led to the emergence of cohort-based learning.

The Marketplaces

Around 2010, online course marketplaces like Udemy and Skillshare came onto the scene. These platforms provided an innovative solution for people wanting to teach a course online without creating a personal platform. They also offered an answer to a new challenge: "How can we profit from online courses?" With their simple and accessible model, they started a revolution where teaching online wasn't just for university professors anymore.

But these marketplaces had a downside. The platforms themselves held all the control, often pushing huge discounts that hurt the teachers' earnings. Instructors didn't have a say over their course's price and felt like their hard work wasn't being rewarded fairly. Plus, they didn't have direct contact with their students, which made them feel disconnected. This led to some instructors looking for better options, marking the start of the next big thing: The Toolkits.

The Toolkits

The Toolkits, led by companies like Thinkific, Kajabi, and Teachable, came around in 2014. They were built with the instructors in mind. These platforms let teachers have more control over their courses, including the price, the distribution, and the relationship with students. It was a big shift from the marketplaces, and instructors were treated as important customers rather than just suppliers.

With the toolkits, instructors could manage their courses more efficiently, accepting payments, managing enrolments, and communicating with students all in one place. They were easier to use and offered more customization options than the marketplaces. However, by 2017, the toolkits also began to show their limitations. They were quite demanding, needing instructors to be tech-savvy and skilled marketers. This brought new challenges, leading to the next evolution in online learning.

The Cohort-Based Learning Revolution: Why it Matters

The 2020s marked the rise of the cohort learning model, which has quickly found its way into the fabric of education. This model revolves around three key elements: instructors or mentors, students, and learning resources. It promotes a culture of learning, reflection, and action. It seeks answers to the fundamental questions "What are we trying to achieve, for whom, by when, and to what standards?"

Research indicates a strong connection between a sense of community in online courses and successful learning outcomes. A staggering 94% of students reported that collaborative learning increased their course engagement.

The overarching aim is to ensure all students excel, irrespective of their background, socioeconomic status, or location. This ambition must guide our efforts to preserve valuable aspects of current systems while innovating to create more effective, equitable education. In this respect, cohort-based learning might be just the revolution we need.

The Benefits of Cohort-Based Courses

Cohort-based learning offers multiple benefits that make it a highly effective tool for the modern learner. It combines the power of personalized learning, peer collaboration, and mentor facilitation to create an engaging and impactful learning environment.

Enhanced Learning Experience

In a cohort-based course, the learning experience is enhanced by a highly interactive and engaged group of learners. It allows for an enriching exchange of ideas, promotes higher-order thinking, and encourages problem-solving skills in real-world contexts. As a result, learners are more likely to grasp complex concepts and retain knowledge for longer periods.

High Course Completion Rates

One of the significant shortcomings of traditional online learning methods, such as MOOCs, has been their low completion rates. In contrast, cohort-based courses frequently boast completion rates of over 90%. This is attributed to the strong sense of community and accountability that develops within cohorts, keeping students engaged and motivated throughout the course.

Completion of MOOCs versus Cohort-based courses.

Personalized Learning

Unlike traditional one-size-fits-all approaches, cohort-based learning places a strong emphasis on personalization. Courses are designed to adapt to the unique needs and learning styles of each student, making learning more efficient and effective.

Improved Soft Skills

Cohort-based learning encourages active collaboration and communication among students. These interactions not only enhance the learning process but also help students develop crucial soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, and effective communication, which are highly valued in today's workplace.

Greater Instructor Satisfaction

In a cohort-based course, the role of the instructor or mentor shifts from being a provider of information to being a facilitator of learning. This shift leads to more engaging and meaningful teaching experiences, increasing instructor satisfaction.

Real-World Application

Lastly, cohort-based courses often incorporate project-based assignments that mimic real-world scenarios. This provides students with the opportunity to apply what they have learned in practical situations, thereby enhancing their ability to apply their knowledge in real-world contexts.

With all these benefits, cohort-based courses have the potential to revolutionize online education, making it more interactive, engaging, and effective. As we continue to navigate the digital era, embracing such innovative learning methodologies will be crucial in equipping learners with the skills they need to succeed.

How Will Cohort-Based Learning Disrupt Edtech in the Future?

As we progress further into the 21st century, the role of technology in education continues to evolve, opening up new opportunities for growth. Cohort-based learning is one such innovation that is poised to reshape the edtech landscape profoundly. Here's how:

From MOOCs to Cohort: the disruptive future of EdTech<br>

Driving Agile Learning Networks

Research indicates a shift from traditional hierarchical structures towards more agile, team-driven educational models. Cohort-based learning is at the forefront of this transformation. By harnessing the power of technology, it establishes digitally connected "learner networks" where students engage with each other, work collaboratively on projects, and share ideas and feedback. As a result, these networks, enabled by tools like next-generation learning management systems, virtual classrooms, and mobile learning apps, allow for real-time, dynamic learning experiences that reflect the fluid nature of knowledge in our digital age.

Opening New Approaches To Teaching

The rapid adoption of remote learning demands the creation of new pedagogical approaches that can effectively leverage technology to meet changing educational needs. This is where cohort-based learning stands out. The wide range of tools available to support cohort learning including mobile learning, project learning, and community learning, illustrate how cohort-based learning is driving innovation in pedagogical methods.

Prioritizing Quality Online Education

Cohort-based learning emphasizes the importance of improving the quality of online education, not just in terms of content but also delivery time and skill level. It demonstrates that, with the right technology and pedagogy, it's possible to offer high-quality online education that rivals or even surpasses traditional face-to-face instruction. By focusing on learner engagement, completion rates, and skill acquisition, cohort-based learning sets new standards for what quality online education should look like.

Empowering the Role of Instructors and Mentors

The future of edtech is not just about learners; it's equally about educators. With cohort-based learning, the role of the instructor or mentor transforms from an "information provider" to a "facilitator." This shift empowers educators, giving them the opportunity to make a real impact on their students' learning experiences. By fostering a collaborative learning environment, they can facilitate deeper understanding, promote critical thinking, and guide their students towards achieving their learning goals.

The rise of cohort-based learning will not only disrupt but also redefine the edtech sector. By placing learners at the center, leveraging technology for enhanced connectivity and interaction, and prioritizing quality education, this innovative approach promises to shape the future of education in ways we are only beginning to imagine.

Cohort-Based Learning with Lemon

For Students: Nurturing Learning Communities & Personalized Experiences

At Lemon, we believe in creating enriching, supportive, and personalized learning experiences for our students. A key part of this approach is our commitment to cohort-based learning which fosters an engaging and inclusive environment for our learners.

Being part of a cohort helps students feel less isolated and more connected, boosting their motivation to learn. As they work with their peers on projects, share ideas, and support each other in their learning journeys, their overall engagement with the course content improves significantly. Moreover, the diversity within cohorts allows students to be exposed to various perspectives, enhancing their understanding of the subject matter.

For Instructors: Enhancing Impact & Building Meaningful Experiences

For instructors, Lemon's cohort-based learning approach offers a unique opportunity to enhance their teaching impact and build meaningful relationships with their students. The shift from being an "information provider" to a "facilitator" fosters a more interactive and collaborative learning environment.

By guiding a cohesive group of students, teachers can establish a strong rapport with their learners, gain a deeper understanding of their learning styles, and adapt their teaching methods accordingly. This not only improves the overall effectiveness of their teaching but also allows for a more personalized and meaningful interaction with each student.

Additionally, the feedback and insights gathered from students enable instructors to continuously refine their teaching methods and course content. This iterative process is a key aspect of Lemon's approach, as we believe in continuously evolving and improving to provide the best learning experience possible.

Lemon's Technology: Tailored for Cohort-Based Learning

Lemon's technology platform perfectly fits cohort-based learning. With features designed for every student's needs, our platform offers a unique learning experience.

Our platform creates individual learning paths for each student. By studying each learner's progress, we design learning routes that suit their pace. This way, students can easily work on their weak areas and swiftly pass through their strong points.

Lemon brings the real classroom experience online. Live sessions allow students to connect with teachers and classmates. This makes learning more interactive and fun.

We also offer communication tools that enhance learning. Our chat feature allows students to discuss ideas freely. With our file-sharing tool, students can exchange learning materials easily. This supports collaborative learning.

Students can also work on projects together through our platform. With the ability to create virtual rooms, students can discuss and collaborate on tasks, no matter their location. This gives them a feel of real-world work settings. In short, Lemon's technology offers an all-round, tailor-made, and engaging learning experience for cohort-based learning.

Leveraging Lemon's technology, cohort-based learning is taken to a whole new level, creating an interactive, personalized, and collaborative educational experience that truly harnesses the power of modern edtech. As Lemon continues to innovate in the online education sphere, we invite you to experience the transformative power of cohort-based learning firsthand. As an instructor or a learner, your insights and participation can help shape the future of education. Join us in this journey, and together, let's change the way we learn for the better.