The concept of Transactional Distance is established by Michael Moore in his paper "Theory of Transactional Distance" (link to full article below). This theory articulates the idea that "distance education is not simply a geographic separation of learners and teachers, but, more importantly, is a pedagogical concept." Even in face-to-face teaching there is some element of transactional distance (Rumble 1986). Still, Moore points out that when talking about distance education we are typically talking about a teaching environment where the separation between the teacher and learner is significant enough that special teaching-learning strategies and techniques must be used.
"Even though there are clearly recognizable patterns, there is also enormous variation in these strategies and
techniques and in the behavior of teachers and learners. This is another way of saying that within the family of
distance education programmes there are many different degrees of transactional distance. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that transactional distance is a relative rather than an absolute variable. 'Me whole point and purpose of distance education theory is to summarize the different relationships and strength of relationship among and between these variables that make up transactional distance, especially the behaviours of teachers and learners. (It should be pointed out that other variables exist in 'the environment, the individuals and the patterns of behaviors' besides those of teaching and learning. This means there is room for more than one theory. There is need for a theory of distance education administration; a theory of distance education history; a theory of distance learner motivation and so on.
The example of distance learner motivation also points out that some theories, such as the theory of transactional distance, are more global than others, and that room exists for more finely focused, molecular theory within the framework provided by a more molar theory.)"
The theory of Transactional Distance states that as the level of interaction between teacher and learner decreases, learner autonomy must increase.
For more information about Transactional Distance, read Moore's full paper "Theory of transactional distance. In D. Keegan (Ed.) Theoretical Principles of Distance Education. New York: Routledge."
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