Beyond the Theoretical Impasse: Extending the applications of Transactional Distance Education Theory

  • Sushita Gokool-Ramdoo University of South Australia
Keywords: theory, Moore's transactional distance educational theory, global theory, quality assurance, policy developoment


The development of theory in distance education is seen as crucial for its sustainability. Since the 1960s, there have been attempts to theorise distance education activities, to explain underlying initiatives and endeavours. Attempts at theorisation were started in the 1950s (Black, 2007). Wedemeyer (1961, cited in Garrison, 2000) introduced the concept of independent study or learning as opposed to correspondence education. Ever since, theory has been in ebullition, with various emerging tendencies. It has long been argued (for example Moore, 1993; Amundsen, 1993; Moore and Kearsley, 1996; Garrison, 2000; Saba, 2003) that there needs to be a global, comprehensive theory that can explicate all activities pertaining to distance education. While Moore has long claimed that the Transactional Distance Theory (TDT) is one such theory (Moore and Kearsley, 1996), there appears to be hesitance over accepting it as such, despite the fact that a transactional approach seems to be consciously or unconsciously adopted by theorists and practitioners alike. This apparent reluctance to hail the Transactional Distance Theory as a global theory has plunged distance education into a theoretical impasse from whence there was no much development. The emergence of two theoretical synergies has been noted (Saba, 2003, p.4) as has the need to develop a third and more comprehensive synergy. This research paper adopts the view that the theoretical impasse can be crossed with the recognition of Moore’s Transactional Distance Theory as the global theory that can explicate and ensure the sustainability of distance education in a technology-driven world. It further analyses its possible applications beyond simply the educational experience to encompass more general concerns like quality assurance and policy development. It is thus proposed that the Transactional Distance Theory be accepted as a global theory.

Author Biography

Sushita Gokool-Ramdoo, University of South Australia
Sushita Gokool-Ramdoo joined the Tertiary Education Commission, Mauritius in 2003 where she now works as the Acting Head of Distance Education and Open Learning. Sponsored by a UK Commonwealth Scholarship, she earned a Masters in Education and International Development from the Institute of Education, University of London in 1998. Her area of specialization is women, distance education and development. A recipient of the Junior Fulbright scholarship in 2002, Mrs. Gokool-Ramdoo has earned a Masters in Adult Education from The Pennsylvania State University, USA in 2005. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of South Australia. Mrs. Gokool-Ramdoo can be reached via email at:
How to Cite
Gokool-Ramdoo, S. (2008). Beyond the Theoretical Impasse: Extending the applications of Transactional Distance Education Theory. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 9(3).
Research Articles