Cohort learning leads to better student engagement and improved course completion rates. For this reason, more and more creators are looking to sell cohort-based online courses.
However, these types of courses have specific requirements, and to deliver one successfully, you’ll need a platform that accommodates these needs.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to the nine best cohort-based course platforms in 2023 and guide you in choosing the right one for your needs.
Best Cohort-Based Course Platforms
- Thinkific: Best overall online course platform
- Kajabi: Best all-in-one platform for cohort courses
- Mighty Networks: Best for community-centric courses
- LearnDash: Best WordPress plugin for cohort programs
- Disco: Best specialized cohort-based course platform
- Teachfloor: Upcoming cohort course platform
- Graphy: Best platform for branded mobile apps
- Maven: Best online marketplace for cohort courses
- EduFlow: Best platform for organizations
What to Look For in the Best Cohort-Based Course Platform?
When choosing a platform for your cohort-based course, you should remember that it should include some specific features that may not be available on all online course platforms.
Unlike a self-paced course, cohort courses are designed to be taken by a group of students at the same time. They are instructor-led and have a strong focus on student interaction.
While you’ll still need the essential course creation tools—for example, a curriculum and course builder, support for various content types, a course player, content dripping, and more—here are some specifics to look for when choosing a cohort-based course platform.
Cohort Management Tools
To create a cohort-based course, you’ll need the tools to group your students and manage the cohorts.
These include creating cohorts, bulk adding or removing students, communicating with them, adding a cohort manager, and tracking each cohort’s progress individually.
Additionally, if the platform allows you to create smaller accountability groups within a cohort, that will be a plus.
Community Spaces for Individual Cohorts
If you want to run a cohort-based course, a community feature won’t be enough. In fact, your chosen platform must allow you to create separate communities or community spaces for different cohorts.
Communities are essential to this teaching style as they facilitate student interaction and bolster collaborative learning.
Besides, having a separate community for a cohort keeps it focused, allowing members to go through the course content together, discuss ongoing assignments, and collaborate.
Ability to Teach Live Classes
In cohort-based online learning, live classes are a must. Since the basis of a cohort-based course is interactive and collaborative learning, almost all cohort courses host live classes, group coaching calls, live Q&As, or some sort of interactive session.
Accordingly, your platform must allow you to host live sessions. Some platforms include native live streaming capabilities, while others offer integrations with software such as Zoom.
While these are the main features to look out for, you may need other tools depending on your needs, like group assignments, peer review, group chats, etc.
Now, let’s explore the best platforms you can use to run cohort-based courses.
Thinkific has been a leader in the hosted course platform sector for many years, and the platform is known for its outstanding course creation and learner engagement features.
The platform offers all the important features you would look for in a regular online course platform. It’s easy to use, has a flexible course builder, offers quizzes, assignments, and certificates, supports content dripping, has a powerful website builder, and has essential selling tools.
Regarding cohort-based online courses, Thinkific offers the following significant features:
- Groups: The platform allows you to create and manage your students as groups. You can bulk add students to a group, create unique sign-up links for groups, and run progress reports for cohorts. Additionally, you can assign managers to each cohort, which is incredibly convenient if you are training for outside organizations.
- Live Classes: The platform supports live lessons through its Zoom integration. With it, you can schedule your live session within Thinkific, and your students can attend the session from within the course player.
- Community: Thinkific has a native community feature where you can create dedicated spaces for different cohorts. Within a community space, your learners can start new discussions, engage with existing posts, attend live events, and much more.
On top of these features, Thinkific has an app store with dozens of third-party apps. So if a feature isn’t available on the platform, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll find an app for it.
Regarding Thinkific pricing, it offers four subscription plans, including a free one. However, when it comes to creating cohort courses, you’ll need to be subscribed at least to the Pro plan, which costs $99/month.
Overall, Thinkific will work in a variety of scenarios. Whether you are running a self-paced or a cohort-based course, this platform has all the tools you need, which is why it’s our top recommendation.
Kajabi is an all-in-one platform that helps you run an entire online course business through it. This means that in addition to creating courses, you can build a website, a blog, marketing funnels, and email marketing campaigns.
Regarding course creation, Kajabi has a flexible course builder that supports features like quizzes, assignments, certificates, content dripping, prerequisites, and more.
Regarding cohort-based courses, Kajabi checks all the essential boxes as well.
Kajabi has a powerful community builder. It lets you create circles and invite students from a specific cohort only, so you can have a private community area for each cohort.
Moreover, it supports meetups and live calls inside your course as well as in the community. The good thing is that the live call feature is included in your Kajabi subscription at no additional cost.
To group your students, you can use the tagging feature. This way, you can add tags to divide them into cohorts, which filters the emails, progress reports, and content they’ll receive from you.
Finally, Kajabi has a free mobile app, so your students can join in on your lessons while on the go.
Regarding pricing, Kajabi has a steep starting price. The Basic plan costs $149/month, and the Growth plan costs $199/month.
So, if you’re looking for a platform to host and deliver your cohort courses while taking care of the other aspects of running an online business, Kajabi will work well for you.
3. Mighty Networks
This is the most popular online community software, but it can also work as an online course platform.
Mighty Networks also has features for creating online courses, including a drag-and-drop curriculum builder, inbuilt content hosting, and a content drip option.
However, it doesn’t offer the option to create quizzes and certificates for your students.
In addition to all this, each Mighty Networks course gets a dedicated sub-community inside the main one.
Interestingly, sub-communities support the same features as the main one. These include a member directory and member engagement tools like group chats, the possibility to share posts, articles, polls and quizzes, and more.
Within the course community, you can also schedule events and go live using the native live streaming feature. You’ll find these tools handy if you plan to deliver your lessons live.
Lastly, Mighty Networks also has an app, so your students can access your course and community on the go. While this is not essential for cohort learning, it’s a big plus.
When it comes to Mighty Networks pricing, the lowest tier costs $39/month. However, you’ll need to be on the Business plan ($119/month) to be able to create courses.
Mighty Networks isn’t your typical online course platform, but if you want to build an online community and offer cohort-based courses through that, it will be a great option.
MORE ON MIGHTY NETWORKS:
LearnDash is a popular WordPress LMS plugin that also supports cohort-based courses. While WordPress requires more technical skills, it can give you much more flexibility than the hosted options.
Through LearnDash, you can create your course curriculum, offer quizzes and assignments, issue certificates, drip your content, and much more. Additionally, it has some powerful engagement tools, such as engagement triggers and a gamification system.
When it comes to cohort-based courses, LearDash has a group management feature from which you can place users into groups and subgroups. You’ll also get detailed reports on enrollment, progress, and performance.
For live classes, you can use the Zoom integration, while you can use Buddyboss to create a community for your students.
As far as pricing is concerned, a single-site license costs $199/year, but keep in mind that this is just the cost of the plugin, and the final expense for setting up a course website will be much higher.
Having said that, if you plan to sell cohort-based courses through your WordPress website, LearDash will be an excellent option.
Disco is a specialized cohort-based course platform with a strong focus on creating live course experiences.
Apart from evergreen material, you can add live events to your course. These will be delivered through Zoom, and Disco will send automated reminders to those enrolled.
Moreover, you can break your course cohort into sub-groups for an even more intimate learning experience. For example, when a student submits an assignment, you can allow for it to be seen by the rest of the group to encourage peer review.
Additionally, the platform allows you to create a branded learning community where your students can communicate through channels and direct messaging and learn from each other.
Sadly, Disco misses out on some important course creation tools such as quizzes and certificates.
Still, this platform will do the trick if you’re only interested in selling cohort-based courses and don’t plan on experimenting with other types of courses in the future.
Regarding pricing, Disco offers three options: the Pro plan ($75/mo), the Organization plan ($399/mo), and the Enterprise plan for a custom price.
Teachfloor mainly advertises itself as a platform for teaching cohort-based online courses, so it’s not surprising that it has powerful features suitable for this purpose.
With Teachfloor, you get the ability to schedule live sessions and deliver them through Zoom. Plus, it has a unique feature that enables you to schedule live sessions directly from a native calendar.
You can also add quizzes and assignments to your course and set a deadline, making them time-bound. Moreover, you can incorporate peer review into your assignments so that students can grade each other’s work.
To facilitate student discussions, Teachfloor created a feature called Community Wall which creates a private community space for each cohort course, allowing them to engage with each other.
Teachfloor is a great option for cohort courses, and there is much to like about the platform. However, the cost is absurd, with the $69/month entry-level plan not supporting custom domains. You’ll need to be on the $349/month plan to be able to use your own domain.
Graphy is another online course platform that allows you to launch a completely white-labeled online academy.
The platform can accommodate multimedia course content and supports basic course creation features like a course builder, quizzes, certificates, assignments, and exams.
Regarding cohort-based courses, Graphy allows you to schedule live lessons and deliver them through Zoom, which will be included in your plan.
Moreover, the platform supports some handy engagement-boosting features for your live sessions, including polls, chats, and much more.
To boost student interaction, Graphy allows you to create discussion forums for each course. Within a forum, you and your students can post videos, images, and text-based content.
With all this said, Graphy stands out the most because it allows you to create and launch branded mobile apps for your online academy.
With Graphy, there’s no monthly cost. However, the platform takes 10% of your profits, and you have to pay a $999 onboarding fee.
Overall, Graphy isn’t the most feature-rich or affordable option, but if you want to have custom mobile apps for your cohort learning academy, then it would be the right choice.
Maven is an online marketplace for cohort-based courses that hosts hundreds of courses from top instructors in different niches, including business, marketing, finance, technology, productivity, and more.
So, Maven isn’t another course platform software; it doesn’t help you create your online school, and you don’t own the audience.
Instead, you’ll need to apply to become an instructor and list your course on the platform. You can then market them to your audience and tap into Maven’s existing audience.
Now, Maven does all the heavy lifting to host your cohort courses and community. For every cohort, it creates a specific community where the members can access the course syllabus and engage in discussions.
As an instructor, you can schedule live events for your course, which will automatically appear on the native course calendar, and you can use the offered Zoom integration to host the live sessions.
Regarding pricing, Maven doesn’t charge you a monthly fee. Rather it takes a 10% cut from all your sales transactions.
Therefore, if you’re not planning to start your online school but want to offer your cohort courses through an existing marketplace, Maven will work well for you.
The final platform we’ll cover in this guide is Eduflow, which focuses on delivering cohort-based courses targeted at organizations.
It has a powerful course builder that supports various types of content, including videos, images, text, files, and more. You can also import SCORM content into your course from authoring tools like Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline.
For cohort management, Eduflow allows you to add tags to your users to divide them into groups and subgroups.
While the platform doesn’t have a full-fledged community builder, it has a handy in-lesson discussion feature. However, if you want to create a standalone community, you can use its Circle integration.
Talking about live lessons, Eduflow integrates with Zoom for group meetings.
In addition, Eduflow offers a couple of unique features for boosting collaboration in your cohort course:
- Peer review: This feature allows your students to review each other’s work.
- Group assignments: This feature lets you create assignments for specific groups among your students, allowing them to submit their work as a group.
Eduflow’s pricing starts from $0/month with up to 15 active learners. The Lite plan, instead, costs $20/month (up to 100 learners), while the Pro plan costs $120/month (up to 250 learners). You’ll need to get a custom quote from their team if you have more learners.
Eduflow’s approach would be the best suited for organizations looking to train their employees, so if that fits your goal, this platform will be the right choice for you.
This article looked at the nine best cohort-based platforms and what each of them has to offer. We hope you were able to pick the best platform for your cohort courses.
However, if you’re still not sure, here’s our final recommendation.
Our top recommendation for teaching cohort-based courses is Thinkific. The platform offers excellent features for cohort learning, but if you expand into regular courses or membership sites, it can accommodate all of that.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for an all-in-one platform to run your entire business, you can go with Kajabi. Apart from the powerful course and community tools, it lets you build a website, run a blog, create funnels, do email marketing, and more.
Finally, if you want to create community-focused cohort courses, we recommend Mighty Networks, as it has the best-in-class community engagement tools.
We hope you found this guide helpful. Do you have more questions? Comment them down below, and we’ll be happy to answer.