The Matthew effect online


I’ve been thinking about the Matthew effect in education for some time: it seems that it’s applicable to many contexts. I really like how Russel T.Warne expresses it in relation to online learning: when the COVID-19 crisis struck and all the population started studying online, the more capable students benefitted a lot, whereas the ones who had struggled for any reasons before, struggled even more – and so the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ has widened. He writes,  “Online learning made my students the same as they were before, only more so.” What’s your impression, have you noticed any growing differences between your learners?

I’ve looked around a bit more and found this 2014 article by Amany Saleh and Heath Sanders ‘The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: The Matthew Effect in Online Education’. While they mostly write about asynchronous learning, does the fact that we use Zoom really help enough to mitigate Matthew? In other words, are all the learners progressing enough and getting what they need?

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