Predicting the continuing growth of the online teaching market is easy if you consider the history of the Internet. The hypertext-based Internet as we know it developed from the earlier systems in 1991 and the numbers of people connecting to the World Wide Web has been quickly increasing since then.
Latest reports suggest that 1.1 billion people now have regular access to the Internet. The astonishing fact is that when James Joyce was teaching English in 1905, the world’s population was around the same as the number of people now connected to the Internet. And as the world’s population grows, so the numbers connected to the Internet also grow.
As the price of technology continues to fall, making computers and Internet access as ubiquitous as televisions in the home, increasing numbers of people around the world will join the online community.
Mobile phones are becoming less telephones and more mobile Internet access devices. The possibilities this raises for the online teacher are exciting indeed.
With one-gigabit-per-second mobile connection speeds predicted for all networks by 2020, students will be able to take a class with their teacher anywhere and at any time. They will be able to take a class while on the bus or train to work.
Given that in some parts of the developing world, the ratio of mobile phone users to computer users is 10 to 1, such teacher/student interaction can only increase.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services allow free communication between users anywhere in the world. Skype was launched in 2006 and now has over 500 million users.
In April 2010, Skype was negotiating with Middle East and African telecoms operators to increase the number of customers who could use their service. This continued growth shows no sign of abating, given that mobile phones are now available that can use the same system.