E-Learning Engagement Gap During School Closures: Differences by Academic Performance

43 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2022

See all articles by Josep Amer-Mestre

Josep Amer-Mestre

European University Institute

Alaitz Ayarza-Astigarraga

European University Institute

Marta C Lopes

Charles III University of Madrid; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: August 20, 2021

Abstract

Using data from Google Trends in Italy, we study the differences in online learning usage due to the COVID-19 pandemic by regional academic performance. With 2016 to 2020 data, we find that during the first lockdown, regions with a previously lower academic performance actively increased their searches more in Google about e-learning tools than their counterparts, higher-performing regions. Analysing school administrative and survey data before the pandemic, we find that both teachers and students in lower performing regions were using no less e-learning tools than higher performing ones. These two findings suggest that the COVID-19 shock widened the e-learning usage gap between academically lower and higher-performing regions. We next exploit the regional variation in school closure mandates introduced in the 2020/2021 academic year. After corroborating that Google Trends provides a good measure of the change in e-learning usage, we report that the patterns detected after the first lockdown were no longer present in the subsequent academic year. Our analysis suggests that in the new school year regions with different previous academic performance had the same response in terms of online learning usage when faced with stricter school closures.

Keywords: E-learning, COVID-19, Education, Inequality, Academic Performance

JEL Classification: C31, C81, I24, H75

Suggested Citation

Amer-Mestre, Josep and Ayarza-Astigarraga, Alaitz and Lopes, Marta C, E-Learning Engagement Gap During School Closures: Differences by Academic Performance (August 20, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3968074 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3968074

Josep Amer-Mestre

European University Institute ( email )

Villa La Fonte
Via delle Fontanelle 18
San Domenico di Fiesole, Florence 50014
Italy

Alaitz Ayarza-Astigarraga

European University Institute ( email )

Villa Schifanoia
133 via Bocaccio
Firenze (Florence), Tuscany 50014
Italy

Marta C Lopes (Contact Author)

Charles III University of Madrid ( email )

CL. de Madrid 126
Madrid, Madrid 28903
Spain

HOME PAGE: http://economia.uc3m.es/personal/lopes/

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.iza.org/person/28113/marta-c-lopes

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