Michael G. Moore, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor of Education, Emeritus
The Pennsylvania State University
Michael Grahame Moore has been named as “one of the 128 most important, influential, innovative and interesting thinkers on education of all time” (The Routledge Encyclopedia of Educational Thinkers, 2016), and as one of “the seminal thinkers in education of past and present … who have shaped education and educational thinking throughout the world (The Palgrave Handbook of Educational Thinkers, 2022).
Michael G. Moore is internationally recognized for establishing the scholarly study of distance education, nowadays widely referred to as e-learning and online learning, and for pioneering the practice of teaching online.
In 1972 Michael Grahame Moore first published a theory about distance education, known as a theory of transactional distance, and since then has achieved many other notable “firsts” in this field. While teaching the first course in this subject at University of Wisconsin-Madison in the mid 1970’s he first proposed and helped establish the annual national conference there. Joining the faculty at Penn State in 1986, he established an American Centre for Study of Distance Education, the first sequence of taught graduate courses, one of the first online social networks (Distance Education Online Symposium) and the first American research journal (The American Journal of Distance Education).
With numerous scholarly and teaching publications (including four editions of The Handbook of Distance Education and three of Distance Education: A Systems View ) — published in five languages — Moore also has down-to-earth practical knowledge of teaching and training in all technologies and for most client groups. Having led in conceptualizing Penn State’s World Campus in the mid 1990’s, his knowledge of online e-learning is derived from a decade of designing and teaching its courses.
Michael G. Moore has traveled the world to explain and advocate distance learning, giving hundreds of workshops, seminars and speeches in more than 40 countries. As a consultant, he specializes in setting up, evaluating and training in large distance education systems, as well as program level needs analysis, course design and development, training the trainers, and evaluation. During his tenure as Visiting Scholar at the World Bank he also led in developing some of the first multi-institutional international courses online. Originally trained as an economist and grounded in an early adult education career of seven years in East Africa, Moore has maintained a special interest in economic and social development, undertaking research, evaluation and training projects for national and state governments, private corporations, armed forces, the IMF, UNESCO, UNHCR as well as the World Bank.
In December 2020 The University of Wisconsin-Madison conferred its Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. The Citation stated: “His ground-breaking Theory of Transactional Distance addresses how, when physically distant, student and instructor can be brought together for effective learning. He led the development of some of the first international online courses, opening doors of opportunity across the world: the Wisconsin Idea on a grand scale”
In June 2017 Moore was presented with the Honorary Doctorate degree by Athabasca University, “Canada’s distance teaching university”. The citation stated: “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the discipline and practice of distance education. One of the founding fathers of distance education, Dr. Moore developed central theories and models that informed many that followed and has played a major role in developing distance education programs in Latin America, Scandinavia, Asia and Africa.”
In 2010, he was awarded the degree Doctor Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorate) by the University of Guadalajara, Mexico. The citation stated, “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.”
The degree Doctor Honoris Causa was awarded by Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina in September 2017.
Other recognitions include appointment as Senior Fellow by the European Distance Education and eLearning Network, (2010); induction into the (US) Adult Education Hall of Fame (2013) and the United States Distance Learning Association’s Hall of Fame (2002); appointed Consulting Professor at Shanghai Open University, China (2006); Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge in England, and Visiting Professor at the United Kingdom’s Open University (2008-9); Visiting Professor at Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2012).
Regional and local recognitions include awards from the University Continuing Education Association 1989, 1995, 1996, 2004), the American Society for Training and Development (1995), the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Outstanding Leadership award (2004) , Penn State University’s International Achievement Award (1995), and its College of Education Lifelong Achievement Award (2013).
Moore has been the subject of journal, video and audio interviews including:
• 2011: Exclusive Interview with Dr. Michael G. Moore, Leader and Pioneer in Distance Education: Distance-Educator.com
• 2008: Q&A with Ed Tech Leaders: Interview with Michael G. Moore. Educational Technology, 48 (4), 49-532006:
• 2006: Michael Grahame Moore – A significant contributor to the field of educational technology. Educational Technology 46(6), 58-59.