What is Inclusive Access?
In the simplest terms, Inclusive Access is a course material acquisitions model that provides students with their required course materials on or before the first day of class. Inclusive access is a paradigm shift away from the traditional course materials acquisitions model that requires students to independently figure out which course materials are required, figure out how and where to source them, and then figure out how to afford to pay for them.
Inclusive Access course materials can be delivered to students digitally through the campus learning management system (LMS) or physical pick-up/delivery. However, Inclusive Access may be most beneficial through digital delivery via the LMS because it completely removes the student from the acquisitions process. Students can log into the LMS and instantly have access to their course materials. These ‘digital first’ programs mostly rely on publisher courseware or digital products – the same publishers of the traditional, physical textbooks many are familiar with using.
Before the current effectiveness research became available, Inclusive Access’ only proposition to students, faculty, and campus administrators was cost savings. By design, Inclusive Access programs reduce the cost of course materials to students by 30-80% off the cost of purchasing a new physical textbook. Instead of paying upfront in the campus bookstore or from an online marketplace for their course materials, students are charged for their course materials through a fee or as part of tuition. Students are not required to pay upfront for their course materials because the billing mechanism of Inclusive Access charges their Bursar account. By charging a student’s Bursar account, students with financial aid can use their aid towards the cost of materials without waiting for the financial aid to post or waiting for a refund.
Who is Involved?
Shifting your campus to an Inclusive Access course materials model involves a couple of internal and external stakeholders. For campuses who lease their bookstore operations, speaking to your bookstore manager is a great place to start the conversations about Inclusive Access. If your campus is self-operated, speaking to one of your publisher representatives will get the conversation started. I do not specialize in the backend process of Inclusive Access, but my time in the bookstore industry provides a good foundation to help point those interested in learning more about the implementation process in the right direction.
This is the first blog in a series to highlight what I think are the current drivers of a course materials revolution. These blogs are a part of my new endeavor to serve as a new voice in course materials intervention research. In future blogs, I plan on sharing my research with you and providing commentary on issues affecting course materials and higher education. I would love for you to click subscribe below to receive notifications of future blogs. I have also launched a Zoomcast series where I will speak with pioneers and innovators in the course materials field. If you would like to reach out, please feel free to email me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I look forward to seeing you again.