Online education portals like Udacity and Coursera are really changing the world of remote learning in significant ways. By making free and high quality education accessible to a global audience, these platforms are opening up undreamt of possibilities for communities around the world to improve, grow, and prosper in the digital economy of the 21st century. Education at top tier colleges and universities has traditionally been a social and economic privilege, but now anyone can join in the learning revolution by sitting in virtual classrooms with the world’s best and brightest educators. Whether this involves learning how to code and build smart phone apps, or starting up a new business, or learning about public health literacy, the sky is the limit of what’s now possible.

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Is texting on the way out?

Texting is an enigma to me. When I see millenials on the subway with their fingers flailing away at the QWERTY, I’m just amazed at the skill (and effort) this must take. Back in the day I worked for an organization that had a data entry department and one of the recurring problems there was carpal tunnel of the wrist from so much repetitive typing. Rapid texting makes me wonder if we won’t see an epidemic of carpal tunnel of the thumbs among 20-somethings.




But not likely. Really, texting is a trend whose days appear to be numbered. In fact, in case you didn’t realize it, texting is a 22 year old technology. The first text message was sent on 3 December 1992, when Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old test engineer for Sema Group used a personal computer to send the text message “Merry Christmas” to a colleague’s phone via the Vodaphone network.

Whenever I see rapid texting I do have to think there’s a better way! It just looks like too much work for so little return. And technology seems to support this. Earlier this year, for instance, it was reported in the U.K. that SMS texting declined significantly in 2013 because of increasing usage of platforms like WhatsApp and Skype.

WhatsApp is currently the world’s most popular instant messaging platform, allowing users to not only send text messages, but also images, video, and audio media messages. And, of course, who hasn’t heard of or used Skype? But, just in case, Skype is a software emulator that lets you use your computer or smartphone to make calls over the internet. Since its first voice-only application came out in 2003, and added video in 2006, Skype has innovated the VoIP protocol to meet the needs for real-time video and audio calls over the internet.




The advantage of using these mediums for communications is that it’s so much easier to send video and audio messages than text messages. But the best part is that services like WhatsApp are free – there are no additional costs for sending these messages in whatever format the user chooses – audio, video, or text.

Consider also the rise of Snapchat, the photo messaging app that lets users take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. As of August 2014 the company was valued at $10 Billion.

Tremendous breakthroughs in technology over the past 5 years – in the areas of mobile, collaboration, cloud, and information – make real-time communications so much more compelling than tapping out a message on a keyboard. Of course, there will always be die-hard texters, just like there will be always be those who refuse to give up email. It’s probably a generational thing. But all in all, it’s fascinating to witness the sea changes in technologies that once were considered invincible.

We can say with a fair amount of certainty that, based on current trends, and the increasing sophistication of real-time unified communications technologies, texting will continue to experience a steady decline.




In fact, come to think of it, between Apple’s Siri and Google Now, who really needs a typist? Increasingly sophisticated voice recognition and dictation services means that you can now get something typed up through machine learning algorithms. Nuance’s Dragon Dictation for mobile means that anyone can now dictate a text message or email, create Facebook status updates or a Tweet, and anything in between.

The obsolescence of typing? Well, who knows? Stranger things have happened. It’s not impossible that someone will uncover a time capsule in the future with a QWERTY keyboard and wonder to themselves, “Ah yes, typing, how quaint! Wonder how those poor folks ever got by?” But that’s a conversation for another day.

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About Jeffrey Walker

Jeff is a business development consultant who specializes in helping businesses grow through technology innovations and solutions. He holds multiple master’s degrees from institutions such as Andrews University and Columbia University, and leverages this background towards empowering people in today’s digital world. He currently works as a research specialist for a Fortune 100 firm in Boston. When not writing on the latest technology trends, Jeff runs a robotics startup called, along with oversight and leadership of - an emerging market assistance company that helps businesses grow through innovation.