impact of e-learning on academic performance



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1.1       Background to the Study

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.

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.

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.

Fry 2000 and Wild et al. 2002 describe E-learning as the delivery of training and education via networked interactivity and distribution technologies. Other authors notably Roffe, 2002; Schank, 2002; and Sambrook, 2003 see e-learning simply as learning and communication exercises across computers and networks or for that matter any other electronic sources.

Khan (2005) pointed that E-learning has been described in various ways as learning using a number of different technologies and methods for delivery e.g. Computer Based Training (CBT), Internet-based training (IBT), Web-based instruction (WBI), advanced distributed learning(ADL), distributed learning (DL), distance learning, online learning (OL), mobile learning (or m-learning) or remote learning and learning management systems (LMS).

In the 70s and 80s distance learning became popular and was done via mail until the rise of Internet usage. In late 90s the digital learning environment was heightened and World Wide Web started as a distributed learning mechanism to support on campus student and distance learners. With the use of this delivery technology learners can get a range of resources like discussion forums, multimedia, chat, video conferencing and electronic black boards (Gulatee and Combes, 2007).

In E-learning system, students are able to interact anytime from wherever with different instructional material (text, sound, pictures, video and so on) through Internet. In addition, learners can communicate with teachers and classmates both individually and as a group discussion with the use of message boards, instant message exchanges and video conferencing (Al-Ammari and Hamad, 2008).

Khan 2005suggests that e-learning system is used for an open, flexible, and diverse E-learning environment. Moreover E-learning system can be analyzed as an inventive approach for delivering, learner-centered, interactive, and facilitated learning environment to anyplace, anyone, anytime by utilizing the features and resources of different digital technologies along with other types of learning materials suited for an open, distributed, and flexible learning environment (Ibid, 2008).


1.2       Statement of the Problem

Web Based Training and its newer and more general synonymous term e-Learning are two of today’s buzz-words in the academic world. Decision-makers associate with its new ways of learning that are more cost efficient than traditional learning strategies and which allow students to better control the process of learning because they can decide when, where and how fast to learn.The emergence of e-leaning has tremendously transformed information – handling and management in academic environments (Ani and Ahiauzu, 2008). A number of e-learning initiatives have been put in place to assist in the development training and use of electronic resources in a number of academic institutions.

These initiatives notwithstanding, some inadequacies in the development provision and utilization of electronic resources have been identified in a number of academic institutions. A number of studies have been made with a view to proffering solutions to problems encountered in the development of electronic information resources. However, little or no efforts have been recorded in the identification of influence and impact of e-learning on academic performance of student in secondary schools.  As the use of e-learning is becoming more and more widespread in secondary schools, it has become increasingly important to examine the impact that e-learning facilities has on student achievement.

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