The dawn of information age has changed life quickly. With the click of the mouse, an e-mail is zapped to almost any corner of the world. Computers are everywhere to the largest corporation to the smallest shop. Tools such as video conferencing have made North America and Asia. Rapid communication, plus increased access to Information Technology in the home, at work, and in educational establishments, could mean that learning becomes a truly lifelong activity— an activity in which the pace of technological change forces constant evaluation of the learning process itself. The use of communication tools such as e-mail, fax, computer, and videoconferencing overcomes barriers of space and time, and opens new possibilities for learning. The use of such technology is increasing, and it is now possible to deliver training to a widely dispersed audience by means of on-demand two-way video over terrestrial broadband networks. The ultimate goal is to give each individual the motivation, the financial means and the physical access to learning at any time in his or her life, so that he or she can develop skills, upgrade or learn new skills for work for his/her own satisfaction and personal development. The ultimate goal is to give each individual the motivation, the financial means and the physical access to learning at any time in his or her life, so that he or she can develop skills, upgrade or learn new skills for work for his/her own satisfaction and personal development.
The next era of the history of video conferencing unfolded in the early 1980s. At the time, video conferencing products were still novelty items, and they cost an arm and a leg. Consider this:
In 1982, Compression Labs' video conferencing unit cost a whopping $250,000, with lines that had a $1,000 per hour price tag.
In 1986, PictureTel unveiled its own video conferencing component, which costs a "mere" $80,000. Its hourly line fee was $100.
In the late 1980s, Mitsubishi created a phone with a still-picture. The picture was black and white, and both parties had to clam up while the picture was transmitting. Understandably, the unit only stayed on the market for a couple of years.
Several technological breakthroughs in the 1990s were instrumental in improving video conferencing systems. For example, video files could be made more compact, allowing videoconferencing from the comfort of one's desktop computer. Also, Internet Protocol, or IP, became more complex. IBM unveiled another black and white video conferencing system in 1991, but this time the pictures moved, and they could be viewed on a PC. Eventually, breakthrough software allowed video conferencing to be enjoyed through programs such as MSN messenger and Yahoo messenger.
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