Adopt an iterative, design-based research (DBR) approach for all MOOC-style courses developed jointly between IIT Kanpur and COL. DBR (Wang & Hannafin, 2005, p. 6) is “a systematic but flexible methodology aimed to improve educational practices through iterative analysis, design, development, and implementation, based on collaboration among researchers and practitioners in real-world settings, and leading to contextually sensitive design principles and theories.”
A DBR approach would embed a research process into the course development and delivery processes that could be replicated over multiple iterations of the course. Using both quantitative and qualitative research strategies, the team could add design features, improve the learning resources, improve the delivery model and assessment strategies, and evaluate the overall effectiveness of the re-designed course to meet the stated learning outcomes.
The resulting design principles could become a model for development and delivery of large-scale courses to support development education outcomes.
Plan, re-design, and implement additional iterations of the M4D course, incorporating improvements suggested by students and development team members. Use an iterative DBR strategy as the guiding schema for course design and evaluation, and set specific goals for the course re-design and updated delivery processes. Evaluate and report the findings with a view to optimizing the course and defining a generalized set of design principles for courses of this type and intended audience.
Consider the primary outcomes for the course in the re-design process and whether the aim of the course is knowledge transmission (what students will know), competence (what students should be able to do), or a broader goal such as learner empowerment (the ability to learn on one’s own from multiple sources). Be explicit about designing for the primary outcome/s (Guardia, Maina & Sangra, 2013).
Use additional quizzes at the conclusion of each topic or week of lessons in M4D. The quizzes would provide ongoing feedback for students and potentially offer an incentive for them to continue their participation towards a certificate.
Re-organize online chat spaces and online discussion forums into moderated and structured activities associated with course topics or emergent topics. The discussion should be managed and curated by a designated online moderator who would also post discussion summaries on a weekly basis. Teacher presence in online spaces is a powerful design feature (Anderson, 2008).
Consider a course pre-test and post-test for students to help gauge the relative achievement of students entering the course with different levels of knowledge, measured against their acquired knowledge.
Use a cost-analysis framework to monitor course development, delivery and evaluation costs. Using a consistent schema, such as the one outlined by Bates (2001) to measure and control costs, would provide a benchmark for further planning and development.
Consider a credential pathway for M4D, with a view to formally associating the course for credit with institutions that are members of the OER Universitas Consortium (http://oerunversitas.org). A credential is a powerful incentive for participation, and aligns with the M4D goals for students seeking to advance their standing or careers in the developing world.