College of Education > News and Publications > News: Oct. - Dec. 2010 > Moore Receives Honorary Doctorate from the University of Guadalajara

Moore Receives Honorary Doctorate from the University of Guadalajara

Penn State Professor Michael Moore is one of three scholars who received the degree Doctoris Honoris Causa from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico.

moore_degree.jpgby Joe Savrock (December 2010)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Michael G. Moore, professor of adult education at Penn State, is one of three scholars who were recently awarded the degree Doctoris Honoris Causa by the University of Guadalajara in Mexico. Moore, along with Börje Holmberg of Sweden and Otto Peters of Germany, received their honorary degrees at a ceremony held Nov. 25.

Moore, Holmberg, and Peters are recognized worldwide as founding theorists in the field of distance education. Working independently, they developed much-cited theories that many experts consider to be pillars of distance-learning scholarship. The recent event marked only the second time that the three pioneers had appeared together.

Moore is noted for his 1972 theory of transactional distance, introducing the concept of distance as a pedagogical—not merely a physical—phenomenon. Distance in the transactions, or relationships, between learners and teachers are understood and overcome in three dimensions: dialogue between learners and teachers, the structure of the course, and engaging with learners’ ability to manage their own learning.

moore_theorists.jpgHolmberg theorized a concept known as guided didactic conversation, elaborating understanding of the dialogue that takes place between student and teacher during distance learning. Peters demonstrated the different organizational structures required to optimize the effective use of technology to bridge distance.

The honorary degree bestowed on Moore states that it is "in recognition of his invaluable contribution with the theory of transactional distance and for his having provided professional development of the first generation of professors of the University of Guadalajara in distance education."

Soon after joining Penn State’s College of Education in 1986, Moore led a series of experiments in the application of computer, audio, and video technologies in teaching students at a distance. In his acceptance speech in Guadalajara, he noted that the training he delivered from the College during the mid-1990s “was almost certainly the world's first international, multicultural, and multilingual courses online.”

Adult education courses originating at Penn State’s University Park campus were delivered to students at four regional campuses. In anticipation of future globalization, the program was extended to link Penn State students with student groups at universities in Finland, Mexico, and Estonia.

These experiments were factored into discussions that led to a decision by University officials to establish the Penn State World Campus, with the Adult Education program providing the first online master’s degree course. The program’s growing prominence led to hosting the 1997 World Conference of the International Council for Distance Education.

“I have been told that in the 200 years of its history, the University of Guadalajara has conferred only 25 honorary doctorates, which, if so, makes an event honoring three scholars a unique one, and in this case underscores the importance that great universities now give to distance education,” said Moore. “I am especially pleased that they have recognized the work that we did at Penn State nearly twenty years ago, long before the current interest in learning online had begun. To be able to stand alongside Holmberg and Peters, both of whom have worked in this field even longer than I, made this an especially historic occasion.”

Moore is founding editor of one of the field’s foremost academic resources, The American Journal of Distance Education, which is soon to mark its 25th year. He was inducted into the United States Distance Learning Association’s Hall of Fame in 2002. He recently was appointed as a Senior Fellow by the European Distance Education Network.