5 Innovative Ways to Use Cohort Forums in Learning

Emily Herrero
Posted: February 27, 2019

Cohort learning is an excellent way to bind groups of employees together so they can build better connections, share knowledge, and spark innovation. When these forums take place online, you’re giving participants a place to collaborate and learn from each other without the formality of a traditional training course. Online cohort learning forums also can help round out your blended learning philosophy so that you are engaging learners in a variety of ways and encouraging them to put into practice what they’re learning — whether it be in a classroom, in an eLearning course, or on the job.

Let’s look at some innovative ways to weave online cohort learning forums into your learning and development strategy with this free list! Download below.

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Now that we’ve looked at some ways you can incorporate cohort forums into your learning and development strategy, let’s briefly discuss some important steps that will help you get those online cohort forums off the ground.

Step 1: Prepare.

  • Have an online cohort forum strategy:
    • What are the goals you want to accomplish? What objectives will you be targeting with your forum?
    • How will you measure success?
    • Will you guide all the conversations, or will participants be able to start their own?
    • How frequently do you expect participants to use the forum, and will this be a requirement?
  • Know your social media policy and ensure participants do too. This should include guidelines and rules for participating in internal forums so there’s no question about what’s acceptable and what isn’t in this space.
  • Determine where you will host your forum, for example: Facebook, LinkedIn, SharePoint, an LMS, or some other online forum for posting conversations.
  • As mentioned earlier, consider the size of your cohort group so that it’s easy for you to manage and for your learners to participate.

Step 2: Launch your forum and inspire conversations.

  • Be prepared that you’ll be the guide initially for how the conversation will go in your online forum. You’ll want to model the behavior that you expect cohort participants to reflect.
  • Ask compelling questions that evoke thought, reflection, or action. Drill into best practices and ask questions like:
    • How do you do __________ now?
    • What could we do differently with _____________?
    • What do you wish you had known about _____________ before __________?
    • What experience have you had with______________?
    • Where can __________ support you more with ______________?
  • Be ready to respond to and act on the ideas presented in the forum so that participants know their input was heard and valued.

Step 3: Moderate and deepen the conversation.

  • Once you’ve started the conversation, check in on it periodically to ensure it remains on topic and focused on the goals you originally planned.
  • Watch out for trolls or others who would derail the subject. This is when your social media procedures may need to come into play. Have a plan for how you’ll handle behavior that doesn’t move the conversation forward.
  • Highlight good ideas and don’t forget to participate in the conversation too. Let everyone know that you are playing an active role in the process and that you value the time people are putting into contributing to the forum.

Remember that people like to talk, so here’s an opportunity to channel that enthusiasm into meaningful conversations that can lead your organization to higher levels of engagement and performance while steering the company culture. What ideas do you have for using online cohort forums in your organization?


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