2 The theory of Moore
Transactional distance: the psychological and communications space (between learners and teachers).
The concept of transaction is derived from Dewey and Bentley 1949.
Transactional distance replaces the older term 'distance education'.
Distance education means a pedagogical concept - and not only geographic separation of learners and teachers.
Michael G. Moore: Theory of transactional distance.
|2 The theory of Moore|
Moore uses the term 'transactional distance' instead of the earlier notion of 'distance education'.
In his theory of transactional distance, he describes
"the universe of teacher-learner relationships that exist when learners
and instructors are separated by space and/or by time" (p.22):
The separation leads to
Even in face-to-face education is some transactional distance.
Transactional distance is relative and different for each person.
The extent of transactional distance in a educational programme is
a function of these three sets of variables (clusters):
The two clusters dialogue and structure are both qualitative variables and are determined by
The relationship between dialogue, structure and learner autonomy can be described like this:
The instructional dialogue is more than an interaction:
- It is purposeful, constructive and valued by each party.
- Hence, it is positive and of synergistic nature.
- Both partners are respectful and active listeners and contributors in same time.
- It is directed towards an improved understanding of the student.
Extend and nature of dialogue is determined by . . .
Structure expresses the rigidity or flexibility of
- the programme's educational objectives,
- teaching strategies,
- evaluation methods,
- the ability to accomodate to each learner's individual needs.
Highly structured medium means no or little dialogue and inputs from learners.
Example: recorded television programme.
But even using an interactive medium the programme can be overstructured.
Therefore it cuts the dialogue and sets a high transactional distance.
The greater the transactional distance, the more autonomy the learner will exercise: making judgements, taking decisions about study strategies, to what extent using the instructions.
Successful distance teaching depends on:
In distance education teaching is a collaborative process of a course team of content experts, instructional designers, and media specialists.
Each distance education programme must structure these teaching processes:
Selection and integration of communications media
Moore suggests a sort of rating of the communications media (p.30).
So, the best overall rating receive:
The autonomy of the learner
The theory of transactional distance is backed up by two pedagogical traditions:
- the humanistic tradition: emphasizes the interpersonal, generally open-ended and unstructured dialogue;
- the behaviourist tradition: emphasizes the systematic design of instruction (behavioural objectives, maximum teacher control).
In the early 1970s distance education was dominated by the behaviourists.
Moore 1972 (Learner autonomy - the second dimension of independent learning) challenged this hegemony and argued that the ability of students to share responsibility for their own learning process was being neglected.
Learner autonomy means 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.
The ideal of a fully autonomous learner: emotionally independent of an instructor,
"can approach subject matter directly" (Boyd 1966), has a self-concept of being self-directed.
Teachers have to assist learners to acquire the skills of fully autononous learning.
Moore examined distance education programmes to see to which extent
whether the teacher or the learner controls the main teaching-learning processes.
Dialogue, structure, and autonomy in teleconference instruction
Teleconference media is Moore's notion for the highly interactive telecommunications media. Interactive computer networks permit not only a faster dialogue, but also a more individual dialogue.
Kowitz and Smith 1987 define three forms of instruction:
The personal computer made possible what was not available before
in either distance education or conventional education:
The place of teleconferencing in distance education theory
Moore works over the theory and integrates the teleconference technologies. What was before a bilateral relationship between a teacher and a distant learner is now a multilateral relationship that brings an enormous number of dialogues between and among participants.
The place of teleconferencing in the typology
The typology of distance education, as developed in Moore 1983, shows now a learner-instructor interaction by teleconferencing that is more dialogic and less structured - result:
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