Do ICT-integrated virtual laboratories and micro-science kits enhance access to open science education?
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is generally seen as key to development and industrialization goals of a country. In the modern global economy, STEM education is therefore closely linked with a nation’s economic prosperity. In most countries, education policy makers advocate for policies that improve STEM education at every level. Many have indeed elevated STEM education as a national priority as reflected through their state spending priorities, implementation of effective policies, as well as education reforms and practices that improve student performance in STEM subjects. However, in Africa, many countries still lag behind in STEM education. For instance, the status of science education in Kenya, similar to other African countries, is characterized by poor performance of students at national examinations, low motivation to pursue science related careers and low interest in science lessons.
There is a growing concern among education stakeholders about this poor performance of students in science subjects. One of the suggested mitigations has been to focus on integration of information communication technology (ICT) in STEM education. Education experts contend that the use of ICT in open science education endeavours to remove barriers to quality science learning. Michieka, Mochire, Twoli and Indoshi demonstrated this in a study presented at the 2013 1st International Conference of the African Virtual University, which affirmed that ICT-integrated virtual laboratories and micro-science kits had a significant effect on students’ learning and performance in science subjects.