The term content covers the educational materials developed for use on computers and other LCCDs. Content will have to be developed that is specific to the educational system of each country. Development costs vary, depending on:
- The complexity of the content that needs to be created;
- Whether content already exists that can be modified for the LCCD that is being distributed;
- Whether content from other sources can be utilized;
- Whether the languages used in the country are specific to that country, or whether developers can draw on content developed in countries where the same language is spoken; and
- How much of the content development is done “in-house” and how much is contracted to third parties.
One of the consequences of conducting technology trials, or starting pilot projects, is that content development will initially consume a larger portion of up-front costs. In Haiti, for example, the development of Creole language content accounts for 2.6 per cent of total pilot project costs. But this content can continue to be used if the pilot is scaled-up to a full program, so the total cost will be lower over time.
The availability of free content can help to alleviate these costs. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) effort works with “Wikieducator,” a site for open sharing of curricular materials. In the Solomon Islands OLPC pilot, primary schools are using free biology lessons downloaded from the Wikieducator site. 113 The pilot project was also able to draw on content developed for an earlier distance-learning project covering teacher training in local languages, as well as agricultural content on beekeeping, turtle conservation and chicken farming.
Worldreader, which has conducted pilot projects that provide e-readers to African schoolchildren, has worked with local publishers in Ghana to digitize local content. The goal is to give students content that may be more culturally relevant and engaging than the Western books that comprise the vast majority of digitized content. 114
LCCDs that have Internet connectivity also have access to a wealth of free educational information online. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW), which it describes as “a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content.” 115 The Khan Academy offers approximately 3,400 online videos with instruction in mathematics, science, computer science, finance and economics, and humanities, as well as standardized test preparation. 116
114 iREAD Ghana Study: Final Evaluation Report, available at http://www.worldreader.org/uploads/Worldreader%20ILC%20USAID%20iREAD%20Final%20Report%20Jan-2012.pdf .
115 See http://ocw.mit.edu/about/.
116 See http://www.khanacademy.org/.