Academic Solutions · Article

Benefits of Removing Friction from the Course Material Process

July 29, 2020

complete access models

Pre-pandemic, only 35% of college students were taking any of their courses online, according to national research conducted by Barnes & Noble College. That number skyrocketed in the wake of COVID-19: 90% of college students had all their classes move online in the spring of 2020. The transition took a toll on students, with more than half saying the overall adjustment to learning (53%) had negatively impacted their confidence toward being academically successful.

In this environment, it is vital for colleges and universities to ensure students have academic resources and support — starting with course materials. There are points of friction in the course material process today that can hamper students’ ability to get what they need to be successful. A fresh approach may help.

Complete access models bundle course material costs and include them as part of students’ tuition and fees. Whether print or digital, all materials are delivered to all students by the first day of class, ensuring they can be prepared. The volume of course materials allows the institution to create significant savings for students. It’s an innovative way to resolve major points of friction in course material management — and create value for all an institution’s key stakeholders. Below are three major benefits impacting students, faculty and administrators.

Students have a simple, de-stressed experience

Not having their assigned course materials when they need them creates additional strain and anxiety for some students. In our 2020 Student Pulse survey, nearly 40% of students who weren’t prepared on the first day of class said it was stressful.

Complete access makes the process simple: students receive their course materials automatically. The whole process is streamlined. They don’t need to check in with faculty first, try to hunt down old copies from friends, or wait for financial aid disbursement. There’s no mystery about what they need or where to get it. Students receive all the right course materials at the right time to support their success.

Faculty help students save while preserving academic freedom

When students don’t get their course materials, it’s harder for faculty to teach, create robust learning experiences and support student success. Faculty members understand issues that can prevent students from getting what they need for class, like cost and access — but they care deeply about the freedom to choose their preferred course materials.

“It’s critically important to understand the access to all the publishers, the vertical and horizontal supply chain that BNC has access to make this program work like a clock. Our strong relationship really served us as we moved into this remote part of our year where we needed more devices and technology. Our BNC team was able to get us devices to help students out that we couldn’t get anywhere else.”

Anastasia Urtz, Vice President and Interim Provost, Onondaga Community College

Great complete access programs allow faculty simply to select the best course materials for the term, with access to both physical and digital materials from all publishers, including OER offerings, knowing volume and economies of scale will create significant savings for students. They don’t need to change their behaviors or do anything differently to ensure greater affordability for their students, making the transitions to such programs easier for all.

Institutions are equipped to stay nimble — and consistent

External events like COVID-19 test the ability of institutions and their systems to respond and adapt under pressure. Delivering a robust, seamless academic experience through such an event requires flexibility on all fronts. Complete access programs allow institutions to meet a student’s individual circumstances as well as campus or community needs.

With complete access, institutions can move fluidly between traditional, in-seat education and online education as needed — with no disruption to service. The affordable course materials students need can be delivered digitally or to a variety of physical locations. Institutions already using complete access models in 2020 were well-positioned to make the rapid transition to all-online instruction and begin planning for future possibilities.

In our recent white paper, Barnes & Noble College addressed challenges in course material management today — and the ways that a complete access model can smooth out the points of friction. Download The Future of Course Material Management: A Guide to Innovation in Affordability, Access, and Convenience to learn more about how this approach can better serve students — as well as faculty, administrators and the institution as a whole.

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