Why is Cohort21 so Effective?


What is it about Cohort21 that makes it such an effective professional development experience? I think there are 2 key elements that drive the outstanding #cohorteffect:

Culture, and Andragogy


photo via pexels

Started by @jmedved and @gnichols, both passionate educators, Cohort21 is also led by inspiring facilitators, and supported by a group of motivating coaches. The culture of support, genuine interest, cross-pollinating, and risk-taking is unique. And so fun. Also, I miss it (#CohortEurope, anyone!? … @shelleythomas)


This is the practice of teaching adult learners, something I have been learning about since leaving the classroom this year for a gig in adult education. In my new role, I am working with learning professionals, software developers, consultants, training producers, and IT managers. Two principles that underpin all of my conversations with these varied groups are the 70:20:10 principle and the 5 Moments of Need.

70:20:10 is a learning model (first developed by Lombardo & Eichinger) that says while 10% of our learning as adults comes from formal training, 20% comes from social interaction, and fully 70% from experience on the job. Think about your own learning as an adult, and I’m guessing you will find it to be a fairly good representation. The model of the Cohort21 year also follows this pattern, with the F2F sessions, live and digital social interaction, and the bulk of your learning time spent actually doing in order to implement your action plan.

The 5 Moments of Need is another model (developed by Gottfredson & Mosher), aimed at supporting learners at the precise moment in which they need to learn something. This could be:

1. Learning something new (twitter, wordpress, google hangouts, … C21 is always adding new options to the mix!)

2. Learning more about something (tweetdeck, composing compelling blog posts, … )

For these first two types of learning, formal learning is great! Face-to-face sessions and instructional videos make sense here.

3. Applying something you have learned (when you decide to use twitter as a teaching tool, for instance! Or integrate PearDeck into your lessons)

4. Solving a problem – because theory and practice just aren’t the same, and when you try to implement your action plan you will definitely end up solving some problems along the way!

5. Dealing with change – this one is inevitable, and Cohort21 helps make it second nature.

To support these last three moments of need, a face-to-face session isn’t really helpful. You need help in that moment, which might be in your classroom. This is where the network becomes more powerful, I think, as we reach out in these moments to get support in order to move forward. The Google hangouts for action planning, twitter chats, school visits, and office drop-ins all help to support these stages, as does regular old email.

It has been exciting to delve into adult education, and exhilarating to adapt to the new set of learners I am serving. Many of you at Cohort21 are also serving adult learners in various roles of your organizations, so I hope these ideas are helpful to you as you form your action plans!

photo via pexels

4 Replies to “Why is Cohort21 so Effective?”

  1. @reichholtz This post is perfectly timed!!! Thanks so much for contributing and linking to the work of Gottfredson & Mosher. I had not heard of them before and found some great thinking as I started to look further. Miss you!!

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