Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) can be regarded as a promising next step in the evolution of distance education. However, they have been criticised for their poor learning design. This article describes the development of an adequate learning design in a series of nineteen MOOCs (called online master classes). A formative evaluation focuses on participation and user satisfaction. A total amount of 2083 individual learners enrolled in online master classes. Overall the user satisfaction is positive and stable. Thirteen pedagogical requirements for MOOCs form the output of this evaluation. It is concluded that the learning design that has been developed, matches with the pedagogical principles of distance education for adult learners. The format has proven to support more a diverse group of learners than the still dominant MOOC formats.