Successful learning requires effective and engaging learning content. Today one of the biggest challenges to the successful learning through ICTs is the lack of relevant e-Content. e-Content or ICT-based content are education and instruction content in the digitized or electronic form. Today the definition of e-Content has expanded to include all learning aids that can be delivered through the various ICTs tools– computer, radio, television, PDA, mobile phones and other. . Though the definition of e-Content has broadened, the availability of this content, both online and offline, computer-based or radio- based, still remains a challenge for most developing countries. While the challenge of availability of relevant e-Content is perpetual, the availability of this content does not necessarily assure access to this content. Again, there is a general lack of knowledge and awareness about existing and available content. There have been very few initiatives to map the existing content and even fewer researches to integrate the available content into a national ICT in education initiative. The challenges do not end here. Experts argue that in the top ten inhibitors to the use of ICT in education, the first two would be language and cost. This is true for e-Content too. Again, management of this content, making the same available and sharable to a number of users, understanding the intellectual property issues of content and finding alternatives, and most important learning content to be in line with the education objectives of the country, are just some of the challengesthat need to be addressed, if learning through ICTs are to be made effective. In this respect, the role of national and international networks assumes great importance. The Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI) has initiated the creation of a web-portal that will make available a critical mass of educational content to the education community especially teachers and practitioners. In India, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, and IIT, Kharagpur is developing a multi modal participatory content repository for the education of rural children. There is a need to develop standards following which the right e-learning content can be created and another set of guidelines that can help policy-makers and practitioners to evaluate content to ensure that it meets the pre-defined educational objectives and identifies key strengths or gaps. Tools need to be developed that will help developing countries access education content. There is also a need for a clear ICT in Education policy that promotes and guides the creation of relevant ICT-based content. In this issue of Digital Learning, we are pleased to bring the perspectives on e-Content, and in an upcoming issue we will be focussing on the policy framework in ICT in Education. Do look out for our special thematic issues and the upcoming conference specials in the next few months.
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