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Advantages and Disadvantages of Cohort-based Distance Education Certificate Programs

In the past, students who have enrolled in Eppley’s certificate programs have moved through the coursework at their own rate. Recently, however, we have introduced a cohort option for some of our programs. To help you decide whether the cohort option is right for you, we’ve compiled some of the advantages—and disadvantages—of a cohort-based distance education program.

First, let’s get some terminology out of the way. A cohort is defined as a group of people who are together for a specific purpose. In the world of distance education, a cohort is defined as a group of people who move through a program together.

Now, what are some of the pros and cons of cohort-based distance education programs?Hands putting puzzle pieces together.

Cons:

  1. One of the benefits of a non-cohort distance education program is that you can move through it at your own pace and on your own time. Cohort programs have specific due dates for courses and assignments.
  2. The accelerated pace of the cohort may not be appropriate for many professionals who are working full-time.
  3. While individual students can count on one-on-one feedback from the instructor, cohort students may receive less individual feedback in exchange for frequent interactions with their peers.

Pros:

  1. A cohort—if the instruction is designed effectively—places an emphasis on creating professional networks and relationships.
  2. Cohort students learn not only from the instructor, but from their peers as well.
  3. A cohort design often includes various methods of content delivery. Not only is the learner interacting with an e-course online and with an instructor via email, most certificate programs also include facilitated discussions, synchronous webinars, and the opportunity to work in teams or groups.
  4. There is some thought that the success rate of a cohort model is higher than self-study.
  5. The cost per person for a cohort is lower than for the self-study option.

The question for you and your agency is “What meets our needs?” Contact us at www.eppley.org to discuss professional development for your agency and the best options for you.