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Guide to Managing Cohort-Based Online Courses with LearnDash

Cohort-based online courses
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Welcome to our guide on delivering dynamic cohort-based online courses with LearnDash! Using the Cohort Manager add-on, LearnDash makes it easy to recreate collaborative peer learning environments digitally.

We’ll explore how cohorts unite students in a shared journey with synchronized schedules, nurturing camaraderie and motivation. You’ll discover how the Cohort Manager handles pacing content unlocks, sending progress updates, and restricting access based on precise timelines.

cohort based online courses

Follow along as we break down how to organize students into intimate cohorts focused on mastering materials together. You’ll learn how to align cohort courses to real-world calendars and blend self-paced learning with interactive live course sessions.

Let’s start unlocking the engaging group learning potential of cohort-based training with LearnDash!

What is Cohort based learning?

At its core, cohort-based learning mirrors the traditional classroom model – just taken online. The central idea is simple: a group of students journey through a series of courses together, united in schedule and deadlines.

This synchronizing of a cohort creates a connection. Students move as one, motivating each other to stick to the timeline and avoid lagging behind. There’s a spirit of collaboration sparked by learning alongside your peers in lockstep.

The cohort method takes that time-tested classroom dynamic and transfers it directly online. Students still experience being part of a group in the same online education. They reap the same benefits of shared motivation and collaboration. It’s an intuitive digitization of the cohort model for a new era of connected learning.

Deliver Dynamic Cohort Courses with Cohort Manager for LearnDash

Inspire connected learning with LearnDash’s tools for cohort based online courses with the Cohort Manager for LearnDash by Training Spark.

Group your students into cohorts, moving through lessons together on a shared schedule. The power of peer motivation and collaborative discovery drives achievement. With LearnDash, you easily build and manage cohort courses from one intuitive hub. Set cohort timelines, pace content unlocks, and send progress notifications with just a few clicks.

Give your cohorts’ learning journey purpose and momentum. Interactive messaging and transparency around milestones keep groups engaged across the finish line.

Whether you want to replicate the energy of traditional classrooms or lead intimate, professional cohorts, LearnDash streamlines cohort management.

Motivate meaningful learning through shared experience. 

online cohort course


Lead Dynamic Cohort Courses with Simplicity

With the Cohort Manager, you can easily build collaborative cohort-based courses online that drive motivation and engagement. Through one intuitive screen, add capabilities to supercharge any training program into a shared group journey.

The Cohort Manager handles logistics, allowing you to focus on leading discussions, fostering connections, and guiding cohorts to success. Transform static courses into inspiring collective experiences with ease.

Streamline Cohort Course Administration

Easily schedule email notifications to keep administrators and group leaders on track.

Automate reminders about important deadlines, content to prepare, and tasks to complete. Custom prompts ensure leaders never miss a beat as each cohort progresses.

Stay on top of managing multi-layered cohort courses without hassle. The Cohort Manager’s intuitive notifications enable you to focus on high-level oversight and engagement.

Automate important tasks, empower leaders, facilitate discussions, and ensure smooth operations for your group. Let simplified automation help you administer cohort courses with excellence.

cohort-based courses online

Personalize Each Cohort’s Experience

Make each cohort’s journey through your course uniquely their own. Easily customize content for groups using shortcodes to display tailored info.

Show the cohort’s start date and insert targeted messaging or examples using variables. Build community and connection by personalizing their learning experience. With simple shortcodes, you can provide VIP treatment to every cohort you lead. Guide groups through a training path that resonates and feels specialized just for them.

Surround your cohorts with a high-touch learning experience using cohort-specific content. Let them feel your commitment to their growth and success.

Strategically Schedule Content Unlocking

Drive student momentum by precisely pacing lesson availability for each cohort.

Unlock new materials on the dates you set to maintain forward progress. Your strategic timeline keeps groups focused and engaged as they advance together.

Sync cohorts in anticipation of upcoming topics and milestones. Drip lessons steadily to sustain energy and involvement over the course duration.

With you controlling the release cadence, cohorts stay laser-focused on current objectives. Let scheduled unlocking allow learners to fully digest materials without distraction.

Keep your cohorts connected on the learning path with strategic content scheduling optimized for comprehension and achievement.

Easily Add Cohort Capabilities to Existing Courses

If you’ve already created self-paced courses in LearnDash, effortlessly transform them into collaborative cohort-based learning.

The Cohort Manager seamlessly layers on group tools like scheduled lesson unlocks, progress notifications, and custom messaging.

Breathe new life into existing materials by having cohorts journey through them together. Discoveries through peer discussions and team accountability re-energize the content.

You can easily enhance your self-paced foundation by testing a cohort version or running both formats at the same time.

Give your static courses a boost by plugging into the Cohort Manager’s capabilities. Turn solo learning into motivated collaboration in just a few clicks.

Automate Milestone and Emails

Keep learner motivation high with scheduled nudge emails that celebrate progress, share updates, and remind you about deadlines.

Easily set notifications to announce newly unlocked lessons, recap recent materials, highlight upcoming topics, and check in on implementation.

Automated emails let you provide high-touch support at scale, prompting engagement and accountability within cohorts. Save time by creating reusable email templates.

Strategic prompts move groups through milestones while building course community and connection. Automate the nudges that guide cohorts across the finish line.

With pre-set notifications, you can deliver the right messages at just the right times to promote achievement for each cohort.

Scale Cohort Learning Across Organizations

Expand beyond individual cohorts to organization-wide collaborative learning using the Organization Toolkit.

Schools, nonprofits, enterprises, and other businesses can build cohort courses for different teams, departments, and programs.

Centralize cohort management and oversight with multi-tiered admin roles and permissions. Automatically enroll users or groups into appropriate cohorts.

Align organizational objectives with tailored cohort courses for various divisions. Track high-level progress through unified reporting.

Enable entity-wide cohort learning tailored to the specific needs of teams and initiatives. Let the Organization Toolkit and Cohort Manager transform LMS capabilities.

Take your cohort offerings to the next level with coordinated management scaled for organizational impact.

Launch Fresh Cohorts in Seconds

Save immense time by rapidly spinning up new cohorts. The cloning feature lets you duplicate previous ones with just one click.

Create an initial cohort course once with your perfected curriculum, pacing, messages, etc. Then clone it as needed to replay the learning for new groups.

With the ability to instantly replicate your winning formula, you can accommodate growing cohort demand without reinventing the wheel.

Streamline starting cohorts with a proven structure and sequence ready for customization. Expand your cohort offerings exponentially while optimizing operations.

Let cloning capabilities make scaling up cohort-based learning simple, swift, and stress-free. Deliver more immersive courses to more learners over time through duplication.

cohort-based online courses

Use Cases

Deliver Fixed-Duration Courses for Consistent Progress

Guide cohorts through intensive short courses that unfold day-by-day over a set timeframe.

Release digestible daily lessons to maintain a consistent learning cadence. Send teaser emails previewing the next topic to spark eager anticipation.

Regardless of the length of your course, maintaining a steady speed is beneficial for keeping groups focused. This steady speed aids in their progress towards completing the course together.

Fixed durations allow you to take cohorts on an immersive learning sprint filled with momentum. Compact courses drive results fast as groups unit around shared deadlines.

Give learners clarity and motivation by structuring cohort courses into reliable daily content unlocks leading straight to success.

Align Course Pacing to Semester Schedules

For cohort courses that align with academic terms, easily match content unlocks to semester timelines.

Set lesson availability for each cohort following its exact term calendar. Groups progress according to their own multi-week academic schedule.

Whether juggling multiple semesters or a single cohort over months, flexible management fits your cohorts’ real-world learning schedules.

Give your cohorts clarity by perfectly syncing course progression to their current academic calendar without disruption. Smoothly integrate cohort learning into student life.

Let the Cohort Manager ease logistical headaches so you can deliver cohort courses tailored to each group’s semester schedule with simplicity.

Sync Online Content with Live Training

For blended cohort courses, effortlessly align online lesson unlocks to match your live training schedule.

Release new online materials just before related in-person or live video sessions. Learners come prepared to dive into discussions and activities.

Alternate online and live classes to interleave self-paced learning with collaborative applications. Blend individual accountability with group engagement.

The Cohort Manager seamlessly bridges online and offline training by ensuring digital content provides the foundation for interactive live work.

Give your blended cohorts a cohesive learning experience by using online lesson scheduling to perfectly complement your live sessions.

Create a Seamless Blended Cohort Experience

Fluidly integrate online and in-person learning for blended cohort courses. Strategically place lesson unlocks to enrich live sessions.

Release new materials shortly before related live classes so learners arrive informed and eager to dive deeper together.

Interleave self-paced online learning with interactive live applications. Individual accountability builds up to collaborative engagement.

The Cohort Manager elegantly bridges online and offline training into one cohesive journey. Digital content informs while live sessions transform.

Blending modalities doesn’t have to mean disjointed learning. Through strategic unlock scheduling, seamlessly complement your live cohort gatherings with online preparation.

Course Access Settings in LearnDash

The course access settings in LearnDash make it a breeze to manage cohorts on their own schedules. Just define when each group gains and loses access.

Using start and end dates, you can run cohorts at different times for different learners. For example, easily create separate Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter cohorts for a course.

Start Date

The start date feature allows you to precisely control when cohorts gain access. Learners can enroll as usual, then begin lessons together on the date you set.

Until the defined start date, cohorts eagerly await kickoff with enrollment open but materials locked down. Come start time; all learners simultaneously receive course access.

Staggered enrollment followed by synchronized beginnings keeps cohorts focused as they start courses in unison. Learners progress on the schedule you orchestrate.

Use start dates to build anticipation for cohort journeys through your courses. Strategic access management ensures organized, motivated cohorts from day one.

End Date

The end date feature lets you set a definitive completion date for all enrolled learners. Access expires on the exact date you specify, regardless of when learners started.

Set a clear finish line upfront so cohorts can pace themselves. Great for wrapping up courses tied to events, academic terms, or other fixed schedules.

No more guessing when access will expire based on enrollment time. Now cohorts complete together by a predetermined date you define.

Building in an end date provides finality. Cohorts sprint towards the finish knowing it arrives at the same time for everyone.

Give your cohorts reliable structure and motivation by establishing end dates. They’ll make the most of the time you allot, wrapping up lessons on cue.

The 4.8.0 release announced group cohorts in LearnDash, enabling cohort scheduling functionality for LearnDash Groups. It allows admins to set start and end access dates for groups, facilitating true cohort-based learning.

cohort-based online course

Course Scheduler for LearnDash

The LearnDash Course Scheduler add-on lets you easily schedule when your courses will be accessible to learners. This powerful tool enables admins to easily drag and drop active courses onto a visible calendar interface.

You have two choices: show courses on calendar dates or show them on all dates except those on the calendar. It’s a flexible approach to precisely controlling course visibility week-by-week or month-by-month.

The add-on lets you create personalized messages for upcoming courses, lessons, topics, or quizzes. These messages will be available on a specific date. Learners will see these messages explaining when the content unlocks.

cohort based online course

Once installed and activated, the Course Scheduler add-on conveniently integrates right into your LearnDash LMS admin area. You will find it under the “Course Scheduler” menu with submenus for the Calendar itself and Setting Configurations.

This add-on helps you easily plan your courses and lessons according to your business’s timeline or calendar.


  • Drag-and-drop interface to schedule courses on a visible calendar
  • Options to show courses on just specified dates or show them on all dates except specified ones
  • Ability to schedule multiple courses on the same date
  • Reschedule courses by dragging them to different dates
  • Easily remove courses from the calendar with one click
  • View past scheduled courses displayed on the calendar
  • Customize access restriction messages learners see
  • Widget to display upcoming scheduled courses
  • Settings to tweak widget text

For advanced scheduling capabilities like waitlists and tiered course access, Course Planner Pro is also available.


Installing the LearnDash Course Scheduler add-on is simple:

  • First, ensure you have the latest version of LearnDash installed and activated.
  • Upload the add-on plugin files to your WordPress site’s plugin directory, or install them directly through the plugin search page.
  • Activate the Course Scheduler plugin through the Plugins menu.
  • Access the settings page under LearnDash LMS > Course Scheduler to configure options.
  • Go to the Calendar page under LearnDash LMS > Course Scheduler.
  • Drag and drop courses from the sidebar onto calendar dates to schedule their availability.

What to Look for in an Online Cohort based Program?

Choosing the right platform is important for delivering the unique value of your group learning course. Unlike solo self-paced courses, cohort courses thrive on the connection between students and instructors. So your platform needs tools tailored to interactivity and engagement.

You’ll still want versatile course creation features – think course builder, multimedia capabilities, content dripping, etc. But keep an eye out for these cohort-friendly capabilities:

  • Cohort management to organize, communicate with, and track students in groups. Breaking into smaller teams drives accountability.
  • Private online community spaces for each cohort to discuss coursework, collaborate, and bond as a unit.
  • Live streaming tools for real-time teaching like lectures, Q&As, and coaching calls. This interactivity is the heart of cohorts.

With the ability to closely facilitate and connect your cohorts, you can recreate the dynamic group learning environment.

cohort based online courses

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I group courses in LearnDash?

LearnDash allows you to group courses together by assigning them to a group. To do this:

  • Go to the Edit Group page
  • Select the Courses tab
  • Add desired courses from the left Group Courses section to the right box
  • Choose courses to add by clicking on their titles. Use CTRL/CMD to multi-select.
  • Click the right arrow to move selected courses into the Assigned Group Courses window.

How do you associate a lesson with a course in LearnDash?

To associate a lesson with a course in LearnDash, follow these steps:

  • Click on the lesson which you want to edit
  • Select the Settings tab
  • Under “Lesson Access Settings,” use the Associated Course dropdown to choose the parent course.

What is a cohort manager?

A Cohort Manager is a tool for managing groups of learners in cohorts. For LearnDash, it is an add-on enabling cohort capabilities like:

  • Releasing lessons over fixed durations
  • Delivering training over multi-week schedules
  • Creating cohorts with blended learning experiences
  • Unlocking content on precise timelines

The Cohort Manager gives the flexibility to build engaging cohort-style courses. You can motivate learners by guiding cohorts through course materials together over set timeframes.

A Cohort Manager helps create an interactive peer learning environment online to maximize impact. For LearnDash, it facilitates collaborative cohort-based training.

Key Takeaways

  • The Cohort Manager add-on facilitates dynamic cohort scheduling and management for course creators.
  • Precisely pace content unlocks and progress notifications to motivate cohorts.
  • Easily duplicate cohort courses through cloning for efficient scaling
  • Align cohort schedules to real-world academic terms and events
  • Blend self-paced lessons with live sessions for a unified experience
  • Restrict cohort access and visibility based on start and end dates
  • Automate messages and notifications to create tailored journeys

With the Cohort Manager, LearnDash gives you the tools to recreate collaborative cohort learning online.

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