When multimedia programming software became more accessible and multifunctional (Schrand, 2008) in the late 1990s, the table was set for such popular Internet interactive tools as Skype and Logitech Vid. While Skype, arguably, is the best known of the two, the rapidly growing Internet video program did not really start taking off and climbing up the innovations S-Curve until late 2005 (Answers.com), when it was reported to have 11.8 million users.
Since that time, according to the search engine Answers.com (2011), Skype reached an eye-popping 30 million users, as of March, 2011. That's impressive. And so are the hair-raising 54 billion Skype calls made over the Internet in 2010, which gives a pretty impressive track record of the leaps and bounds this popular interactive Internet program has made in two decades. George Siemens (Laureate, 2010) was right. There is definitely a comfort level with programs such as Skype that helps to spur increased interest in the burgeoning world of distance education. While the increased use of Skype and other video interactive tools such as Logitech, a program I use often interchangeably with Skype, is helping to bring about Siemens' requisite comfort level. Siemens (Laureate, 2010) believed one of the key challenges for distance education is comfort. I'm certainly comfortable using interactive video programs to keep in touch with family members and friends who are long distances away, and as the recipient of two advanced online degrees, I couldn't agree with Siemens more that online comfort and familiarity are pivotal in distance education success.
So, where is distance education headed? Well, if one subscribes to Siemens' philosophical approach to distance education, government, and business, distance education has a bright future ahead. Naturally, these three factors are the nucleus of a thriving community, one that is enriched by vibrant online educational success.
Answers. com (2011). History, usage, and traffic. Retrieved from http://www.answers.com/topic/skype
Laureate Education, Inc. (2010) (Executive Producer). The future of distance education [Program Video].
Available from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5260644&Survey=1&47=4232391&ClientNodeID=984645&coursenav=1&bhcp=1
Schrand, T. (2008). Taping into active learning and multiple intelligences with interactive media: A low-threshold classroom approach. College Teaching. Heldref Publications.