CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the Study
Education is a key factor for sustainable development (Chimombo 2005). The significance of education, especially in developing countries, is increasing because of progressing pressure to catch up with the developed world regarding, for example, global competitiveness (Hawkins 2002). Predictably, educational settings are different in developing countries than in developed countries, such as low quality of education and narrow possibilities in attending schools in rural areas because of far distances and high opportunity costs (Ibid 2005). Chimombo, 2005 opines that country-specific circumstances have to be improved regarding compulsory and free education to foster general access to education. In Article 26 of the 1948 UN universal declaration of human rights the right of obligatory and free education for everyone is already committed (UN Human Rights 1948).
Every year, more of the world’s people become connected to the network, its bandwidth increases and its use becomes more integrated to all that happens in the globe. Connectivity to this network has becomes key to opportunity, success and fulfillment for individuals. Kenya has defined a national ICT policy with a view of creating an e-enabled and knowledge-based society by the year 2015. Just like the technology has changed the world, it is now changing the learning and teaching environment.
A broad range of learning approaches exists already, for example, e-learning, blended learning (Maier, 2007), and distance learning which utilize information and communication technology (ICT). The use of ICT can benefit, for example, students in rural areas by having them attend classes as distance learners and motivating them to learn like the “Group Learning Sets” (GLS) initiative offers. Regarding this, the potential of e-learning seems very assuring, but because of gaps between developed and developing countries knowledge transfer is not only difficult but also costly.
E-learning denotes the use of ICT by teachers and learners. Schmidt 2005 holds that e-learning consists of conventional training, such as courses, ad-hoc training, selected learning objects, formalization through document collections and community formation which can be achieved via social software.
According to case studies, there are already a number of e-learning programs offered in developing countries (Kohn et al. 2008). These programs are developed by various national and international initiatives, for example, the group learning sets initiated by Computer Aid International in collaboration with Kenyatta University. The growth of e-learning programs according to Lockwood and Gooley, 2002 is driven by the need for and potential of providing education in less expensive ways, increased access to information, effective learning and greater flexibility.
Stephenson, 2001 posits that there is little systematic research into the overall effectiveness of e-learning as a learning medium despite the great interest in it. He acknowledges that while there is much more work to be done, a variety of e-learning courses aimed at making sustainable development a reality have been developed and demonstrate how e-learning can reach thousands if not millions of minds and potentially plant the seeds of change.
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