The Future of Knowledge Creators

The buzz on cohort-based courses

New Resources on Passion Economy Stack šŸ„

  • Top 4 EdTech Trends (Meagan Loyst): Meagan, VC @ Lerer Hippeau, discusses four trends she is excited about in EdTech: parental involvement, remote work, peer-to-peer learning, and partnerships with corporations and the government.

  • There were tons of fundraising announcements for education companies this month: Reforge raising $21M, OnDeck raising $20M, Disco.co raising a $4.5M seed round. More on this below!

Deep Dive: The Future of Education

This past month, the Future of Education sparked a lot of buzz, with the continued progress and rise of online cohort-based learning. In cohort-based courses, students sign up for a learning program, with all students starting and ending the program at the same time. CBCs boast high completion rates because of the time-based nature and social accountability of working with other students. They are also perfect for creators who want to cultivate a community alongside their course.

It's nothing new from how traditional models of school work. Universities and schools are made up of many cohort-based courses packaged in a longer-term and standardized curriculum. The inflection point that's fueled the rise of online cohort-based education vs. self-paced is the acceptance & scalability of learning virtually and desire for online community at the onset of the pandemic.

In or around March, a couple things happened in the space:

  • Reforge raising $21M (a16z): Reforge, one of the earlier cohort-based format companies that focuses on growth and technology strategy skills also raised a $21M Series A led by Andrew Chen of a16z.

  • Maven, (meaning expert) formerly known as Wes, Gagan's and Shreyan's stealth startup finally got a new name. Maven is building a platform to allow anyone to build and run their own cohort-based course, without the hassle of using a bajillion apps to do so. Prominent creators have launched cohort-based courses with Maven such as Sahil, Pomp, Li Jin, and Lenny.

  • Disco.co, another platform that's enabling the rise of cohort-based course builders announced their $4.5M seed round.

As these education companies raise money, the looming question is: "how can they become huge ($1B+) businesses?". Many of these companies are program based, meaning they require more instructors, facilitators and operations support as they expand, which hurts profit margins. But there are exciting way that technology can help. For example, companies can scale instructor time with video and connect fellow students to support and motivate each other. These companies could also lean into investing in the outcomes of their students through recruiting fees (by referring students to companies) as well as financial investments (like Income Share Agreements or investing in companies founded by their students).

Have any ideas on what we should cover next? Do you have any exciting examples of creators teaching courses in interesting ways? Let us know in the comments or by replying to this email.

With creator love,
Mika & Zack

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