Transactional Distance and Adaptive Learning: Planning for the Future of Higher Education (Hardback) book cover

Transactional Distance and Adaptive Learning

Planning for the Future of Higher Education

By Farhad Saba, Rick L. Shearer

© 2018 – Routledge

212 pages | 14 B/W Illus.

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Transactional Distance and Adaptive Learning takes a fresh look at one of the pioneering educational theories that accommodates the impact of information and communications technologies in learning. The theory of transactional distance (TTD) provides a distinct analytical and planning foundation for educators to conduct an overarching inquiry into transitioning from mass instructional and management systems in higher education to dynamic and transformational futures that focus on each individual learner.  

Based on the TTD, this pragmatic approach offers instructors, administrators, students, and other stakeholders a comprehensive planning method to assess the current state of their instructional, learning, and management practices and to develop alternative models to prescribe future improvements in their institution. This complex, self-organized, and adaptive method includes current and emergent properties of:

  • hardware, software, and telecommunications systems that allow faculty, students, and administrators to communicate;
  • instructional and curriculum systems that provide teaching and learning environments for faculty and students; and
  • management, societal, and global systems that influence how institutions are supported, funded, and managed.

Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures

Case Studies

List of Abbreviations




Chapter 1 - Conceptual Framework

Chapter 2 - The Theory of Transactional Distance: The Broader Context

Chapter 3 - Hardware Systems

Chapter 4 - Software Systems

Chapter 5 - Introduction to Adaptive Learning Systems

Chapter 6 - Telecommunications Systems

Chapter 7 - Instructional Systems

Chapter 8 - Instructional Design Models: A Transactional Distance Perspectiver

Chapter 9 - Curricular Systems

Chapter 10 - Management Systems

Chapter 11 - Societal Systems

Chapter 12 - Global Systems

Chapter 13 - From Theory to Practice

Appendix - Review of Selected Literature About the Theory of Transactional Distance


About the Authors

Farhad Saba is Professor Emeritus of Educational Technology at San Diego State University, USA, and Founder and Editor of

Rick L. Shearer is Director of Research, World Campus at The Pennsylvania State University, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Computers & Technology
EDUCATION / Distance Education & Learning