Seth Godin wrote on the power of cohorts of people in “Workshops are not courses“. Essentially, cohorts are a vehicle of connection between them.
He was contrasting the idea of an online course, which you can start at any time, and a workshop, which starts on a certain date.
It’s the openness of a course that makes this method accessible, yet it’s then hard to pull people together.
The cohort of people on a workshop gives them a chance to pull together. “Look, you’re all starting this, give the it best you can, and help each other out along the way.”
Of course, you could engineer cohorts into a course. Everyone who joins during the calendar month could be grouped into a cohort.
It’s not all roses. Cohorts of classmates going through college will surely have stories of people not getting along with each other. Yet the force of group work does focus them on the goal of completing what they started, while learning to work together.
Should a cohort of students be transitory, once the workshop is finished? Back to Godin; in one case I’ve seen him formulate transitory cohorts. He argued that people will build connections while working together that will far outlive their active project.