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Michael Grahame Moore


Biography Michael Grahame Moore, a Distinguished Professor of Adult Education, was born on February 28th, 1938 in Bodmin, England. Most of his professional life was devoted to the study and practice of Adult and Continuing Education. This dedication to the field of education led Moore to develop scholarships and programmes in more than 30 countries, and many international agencies (Miller, 2013). Moore is recognized worldwide for his success in advancing Distance Education, teaching and practice.

Education and Academic Career Highlights Michael Grahame Moore earned his first degree, a Bachelor of Science in Economics, from the London School of Economics in 1959. After graduating, he taught High School History, Geography, and some adult education courses, for three years in England. In 1963, Moore relocated to Africa, where he remained for seven years, working in the Adult Education Department of the University of East Africa. While in Africa, Moore committed himself to adult education, which he viewed as a way to open opportunities to otherwise deprived people (Miller, 2013). In the 1960’s, Moore joined an experiment which linked radio broadcasts and correspondence courses. While pursuing his Doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, Moore analyzed his experiences in Africa with these radio broadcast correspondence courses. Moore’s doctoral dissertation presented his theory of Distance Education (Miller, 2013), which was first publicly described in 1972. Moore received his Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin in 1973. He relocated to Canada as an Assistant Professor for three years at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. In 1977, Moore returned to UK to work in academic and managerial roles at the Open University for eight years. In 1983, the Transactional Distance Theory name is applied to his 1972 distance education theory. In 1985, Moore returned to the United States where he began working as Professor of Education for Pennsylvania State University, in the Department of Learning and Performance Systems, where he remained until 2013. In 1986, he established the American Center for Study of Distance Education and in 1987, he established the first distance education journal: The American Journal of Distance Education. Moore is also the creator of the first on-line network in distance education, the Distance Education Online Symposium (DEOS), which was created in 1990. He was also the first to establish distance

graduate courses during this period of time. In 1996, Moore was a Consultant at the World Bank. In 2003, he published the Handbook of Distance Education. In 2008, Moore was a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge and Visiting Professor at the Open University. He was awarded the diploma for the degree Doctoris Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorate), by the University of Guadalajara, Mexico in 2010, as well as, awarded the title of Senior Fellow by the European Distance Education and e- Learning Network. Over the years, Moore has advanced the visibility of Distance Education through more than 100 publications, conferences, and other speeches and presentations. In December 2013, Moore was inducted into the Adult Education Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Orlando, Florida.

Some of Michael G Moore’s career highlights are also included at

The Transactional Distance Theory Michael G Moore was the first to define Distance Education publicly in 1972, while he was working on his doctoral dissertation. His theory was later renamed the Transactional Distance Theory in 1983. Moore’s description of transactional distance states, “there is now a distance between learner and teacher which is not merely geographic, but educational and psychological as well. It is a distance in the relationship of the two partners in the educational enterprise. In relation to distance education, transactional then means, “The interplay of teachers and learners in environments that have special characteristics of their being spatially separate from one another” (Moore, 2007). According to Moore, the psychological and communications space is the transactional distance. The space, can potentially lead to misunderstanding between the inputs of the instructor and those of the learner. Essentially, transactional distance is a “concept describing the universe of teacher-learner relationships that exist when learners and instructors are separated by space and/ or by time” (Moore, 1997). Three main factors which need to be considered in determining transactional distance are dialogue, programme structure and autonomy of the learner. Dialogue Dialogue is developed by teachers and learners during the programme when one person initiates the dialogue, and another responds (Moore, 2007). Several factors including personalities, course content, and delivery method will impact the quality of the dialogue, and determine whether or not transactional distance will be overcome (Moore, 2007). The communication medium is one of the most important factors in the instructional dialogue, as it

directly impacts the quality of the dialogue (Moore, 2007). Essentially, Moore’s theory emphasizes the importance of a quality dialogue via a good communication medium. A good communication medium is one whereby dialogue can be interactive and effective between teacher and student. This interaction will reduce transactional distance (Moore, 2007). Programme Structure Moore suggests, the way in which a programme is structured has a direct impact on the transactional distance. The programme structure refers to, “the ways in which the teaching programme is structured so that it can be delivered through the various communications media” (Moore, 2007). The structure of the programme informs students of the goals, strategies and the evaluation process of the programme. Students will be aware of how flexible a programme is, and how it can meet individual needs of the students. Some programmes can be altered to meet the needs of the student, however, others, for example, prerecorded teaching materials, cannot be adjusted to meet individual needs (Moore, 2007). According to Moore (2007), “When a programme is highly structured and teacher learner dialogue is non-existent, the transaction between learners and teachers is high. At the other extreme, there is low transactional distance in those teleconference programmes that have much dialogue and little predetermined structure.” The success of a distance education programme is determined by the openness of the dialogue between student and teacher, as well as, whether or not the programme is structured so that a student/teacher interaction can be productive and of good quality (Moore, 2007). This will reduce transactional distance.

Autonomy of the Learner Learner autonomy refers to a student taking responsibility for his or her learning. It is “the extent to which in the teaching/learning relationship it is the learner rather than the teacher who determines the goals, the learning experiences, and the evaluation decisions of the learning programme.” In the Transactional Distance theory, Moore states that not al l adults are independent enough to successfully complete a distance program. In order to succeed, the adult must be prepared for self-directed learning, and not need a significant amount of interaction between teacher and student. “Students with advanced competence as autonomous learners appeared to be quite comfortable with less dialogic programmes with little structure; more dependent learners preferred programmes with more dialogue; some wanted a great deal of structure; while others preferred to rely on the informal structure provided in a close relationship with an instructor”(Moore, 2007). The more independent a learner is, the less transactional distance will exist.

Some information of Moore’s Transactional Distance Theory can be found on Wikipedia.o rg.

Publications from Michael G Moore Over the years, Michael Moore has produced over 100 publications in the field of distance education. Below is a sample of some of the work he has published, retrieved from

1. Moore, M.G. (1970). Survey of Fundamental Education in the Coast Province of Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: Ministry of Cooperatives and Social Services. 142 pp 2. Moore, M.G. (1972). Learner autonomy: The second dimension of independent learning Convergence Fall: 76-88. 3. Moore, M.G. (1973). Towards a theory of independent learning and teaching. Journal of Higher Education 44: 661-679. 4. Moore, M.G. (1976). A model of independent study. Chapter II in Investigation of the Interaction between the Cognitive Style of Field Independence and Attitudes to Independent Study among Adult Learners Who Use Correspondence Independent Study and Self Directed Independent Study. Doctoral dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ann Arbor, University Microfilms No. 76-20, 127. 5. Moore, M.G. (1977). A model of independent study. Epistolodidactica (United Kingdom) 1: 6-40. 6. Moore, M.G. (1980). On a Theory of Independent Study. ZIFF Papiere No. 16. Hagen, West Germany: FernUniversitat. 27 pp. 7. Moore, M.G. (1980). Continuing education and the assessment of learner needs. Teaching at a Distance 17: 26-29 (U.K.) 8. Moore, M.G.(1980) Independent study. In R. Boyd and J. Apps, (eds.) Redefining the Discipline of Adult Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 16-31. 9. Moore, M.G. (1981) Educational telephone networks. Teaching at a Distance 19: 24-31 (U.K.). 10. Moore, M.G. (1981). Needs assessment: A further comment. Teaching at a Distance 19: 5259 (U.K.). 11. Moore, M.G. (1983). On a theory of independent study. In D. Seward, D. Keegan, and B. Holmberg, (eds.). Distance Education: International Perspectives. London: Croom Helm, pp. 68-94.

12. Moore, M.G. (1986). Self-directed learning and distance education. Journal of Distance Education (Canada) 1(l): 7-24. 13. Moore, M.G. (1987). Learners and learning at a distance. The International Council for Distance Education Bulletin, 14: 59-65. 14. Moore, M.G. (1992). Review of Distance Education: The Foundations of Effective Practice by J.R. Verduin and T. A. Clark. The Journal of Higher Education 63(4): 468-72. 15. Moore, M.G. (2006). Using New Technologies in Open and Distance Learning. Open Education Research. Vol.12 No.6 pp 16-20 16. Moore, M.G. (2007). The Theory of Transactional Distance. In M.G.Moore (Ed.) (2007) The Handbook of Distance Education. Second Edition. Mahwah, N.J. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Pp. 89-108 17. Moore, M.G. (2012). Continuing education and distance education: a marriage of convenience. The University of the Fraser Valley Research Review volume 4: issue 3 (Winter, 2012/2013) 1-15


Aluko, R.F., Hendrikz, J., Fraser, W.J., Transactional distance theory and total quality management in open and distance learning. Miller, G.E. (2013). “International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame Class of 2013 Nomination Form”. Moore, M. (1972) 'Learner autonomy: the second dimension of independent learning', Convergence V (2), 76-88. Moore, M. "Theory of transactional distance." Keegan, D., ed. "Theoretical Principles of Distance Education (1997), Routledge, pp. 22-38. Moore, M. G. (1973). Toward a theory of independent learning and teaching. The Journal of Higher Education, 44(9), 661-679. Moore, M.G. (2007). The theory of transactional distance. In M.G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of Distance Education (2nd ed., pp. 89-105). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Michael Grahame Moore. Retrieved from

Reflection Paper Initially, I must say, I did experience some difficulty selecting a theorist for this assignment. To begin, a few of the theories of interest to me were already posted on Wikipedia. Eventually, I came across Michael Moore’s distance education theory. Reading that the theory of Transactional Distance was the first distance education theory made public in 1972, really influenced my decision to research the work of the well-known theorist Michael Grahame Moore. Needless to say, the specific theory I selected to research, and write a paper on is his Transactional Distance theory. Researching the work of Michael Grahame Moore has made my interest in the field of Distance Learning greater, and has provided me with a better understanding of the importance of Learner Autonomy while pursuing this graduate programme, as well as, the importance of dialogue and programme structure. Learner autonomy, dialogue and programme structure are all important factors in distance education, due to the space created between student and teacher which can result in misunderstandings. Michael Grahame Moore’s Transactional Distance theory was a new theory for me. I have read other learning theories which primarily focused on learning in a face to face, classroom environment. These theories have always been an interest of mine, since I believe, when applied in the classroom, they can assist my ability to teach and motivate students. I found the concepts of dialogue and programme structure of the Transactional Distance theory to be extremely interesting and relevant in a distance education situation, as well as, applicable in the traditional classroom setting. Moore’s analysis on the role and importance of dial ogue, programme structure, and learner autonomy assists us as students, in understanding how

important it is to use the mediums of communication provided to us, to maximize our communication with our teachers and peers. As a student, it also makes me aware of how important it is for me to be less reliant on an instructor, since I must take responsibility of what I am learning, unlike the learning environments I have previously been exposed to, whereby I was more dependent on the teacher. This important communication will lead us to have a good quality discussion with our teachers, and peers, enabling us to have a better understanding of what we are learning, thus reducing the transactional distance. What also stood out to me was the impact of personalities, course content, and delivery method on the quality of the dialogue (Moore, 2007). As potential practitioners in the field of Instructional Design, it illustrates how important it is to create learning environments which are conducive to a distant student’s learning. To provide a conducive learning environment, instructors must understand the importance of creating a programme structure which is open, so that students will be able to have discussions with teachers and peers, ultimately reducing the transactional distance between student and teacher (Moore, 2007). Without an open programme structure, whereby the students engage in meaningful dialogue with the teacher, and where feedback is provided, the transactional distance will be increased and distance learning will not be as successful. One of the challenges I encountered during my research, is the lack of personal information on Michael Grahame Moore. Although I searched and searched, I was unable to find any information on Moore, other than his academic career and accomplishments. This really made me concerned, I was even contemplating using another theorist who I could find personal information on. I finally decided to send him an email to his University email address requesting this information, and after a few days of waiting, I was pleasantly surprised to

receive a response from him. He was kind enough to provide me with some personal information, including his date and place of birth. He also provided me with some more information on his accomplishments. I was looking forward to having my research on Michael Moore posted on Wikipedia, so I am a bit disappointed that I was unable to do so. In closing, this assignment has really made me more aware of the importance of student/teacher interaction, particularly in a distance education program, the importance of being an independent learner, and lastly how important it is to structure an open programme, in order to increase interaction between student and teacher. I will also be able to apply this knowledge in class, since this theory, in my opinion, is not restricted to distance education. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Michael Moore’s Transactional Distance theory, and I do intend to read more of his published work. Michael Moore’s contribution to distance education is truly invaluable.

Moore, M.G. (2007). The theory of transactional distance. In M.G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of Distance Education (2nd ed., pp. 89-105). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.