Education technology, often referred to as Edtech, has been one of the biggest disruptors over the last decade and education, as we know it today, has metamorphosed into various digital formats. A quick recap: The first tranche of the ed-tech revolution came in the form of online education via MOOCs (massive open online courses) that offer on-demand, pre-recorded lessons. However, despite its perks, only 3% of the total enrolled students complete MOOC sessions, according to industry watchers. This gap has led to the rise of two-way learning via cohort-based courses (CBCs), bringing in Edtech 2.0.
CBCs are interactive online courses in which a group of students — in “cohorts” – progress through the material together, with hands-on, feedback-based learning at the core. The last two years (2020 and 2021) have seen the rise of several new age start-ups that provide learning opportunities through CBCs. Launched in April, 2021, Seekho is one such platform. “Cohort courses, as opposed to traditional courses, increase the completion rates by 80% or more as they motivate students to improve their performance vis-a-vis their cohort peers,” says Divya Jain, co-founder, Seekho.
The idea behind Seekho is very simple – a learning community that connects youth with live classes from industry gurus and high demand non-tech jobs. Users can join Seekho’s academies, which provide access to a plethora of live, interactive events, as well as community engagement and peer-to-peer learning. It then lets corporations match with users, enabling them to hire from an industry-ready talent pool. Seekho’s parent company, Seekify, raised $1.5 mn in seed funding from Sequoia Surge in 2019 to achieve its goal of combining Jobtech and Edtech.
“As for the demographics of our target group, these are people in their final year of college and early-stage professionals who are looking to explore alternate avenues and domains,” Jain says.
Because of accountability and interaction, cohort-based courses provide high quality filtered content. Take for instance, GrowthSchool, a community-led learning platform. It partners with the top 1% of instructors to create high-impact courses on personal and professional growth for learners all over the world. It has raised $5 mn in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital India and Owl Ventures.
“We at GrowthSchool have doubled down on cohort-based learning in the past one year, impacting over 200,000+ learners by building 20+ programmes with 50+ mentors across the world,” says Vaibhav Sisinty, founder & CEO, GrowthSchool. “Anyone who is willing to learn a new skill can engage in this type of learning. For instance, we have 13-year-olds learning how to design mobile apps as well as 55-year-olds learning how to scale their D2C brand,” he adds.
Newton School is another ed-tech startup that has mastered this format. It was founded in 2019 with the goal of empowering people to upskill with industry-relevant skills and become full-stack developers. It provides a six-month-long programme taught in a group-on-one mentor setup, not only equipping its graduates with industry requirements but also making this talent pool available to hiring partners. RTP Global led a $5-mn Series A round of funding for this Bengaluru-based Edtech startup.
“Cohort-based learning, which traditionally worked best in academic settings, is becoming the chosen method of instruction in areas other than higher education as well,” says Siddharth Maheshwari, co-founder, Newton School. “Newton School’s courses are entirely cohort-based in order to promote a highly interactive, immersive, and personalised learning experience for our students,” he says.