Academic Solutions · Article

Five Takeaways From Equitable Access Champions: How To Ace Implementation

August 2, 2022

What do you need to know before introducing an equitable access program for course materials? Two directors of retail operations shared their perspective in Equitable Access: 3 Steps from Inspiration to Outcome. Kenia Junco, Florida International University (FIU), and Donna Morris-Powell, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T), championed the process and successfully implemented BNC’s First Day® Complete equitable access program on their campuses.

Watch the full discussion or read on for five key takeaways shared by the campus experts:

  1. Lay a foundation for success with buy-in from leadership.
  2. Establish a strong cross-functional team.
  3. Re-envision how you use your bookstore space.
  4. Conduct testing prior to launch.
  5. Start communicating about the program early and in detail.

1. Lay a foundation for success with buy-in from leadership.

“With a continued rise in the cost of textbooks, once we presented [the program] to our chancellor and his cabinet and showed the savings and the academic outcomes for our students, everyone bought into it. Once the chancellor was on board, it was easy to get everyone else on board.”

Donna Morris-Powell, NC A&T

As the percentage of students that have all their materials by the first day of class has continued to decline, more institutions are making the case for a program that makes getting course materials more accessible, convenient and affordable. First Day Complete was developed with input from students and faculty, and that’s reflected in the outcomes participants are seeing. Students in the program are saving 35 to 50% across their academic journeys – and crediting it as a factor in their academic performance:

• 83% agree First Day Complete has better prepared them for the academic term
• 80% say it had a positive impact on their success this term
• 73% say it helped them achieve better grades this term

2. Establish a strong cross-functional team.

Institutions implementing an equitable access program need to build a strong cross-functional launch team for successful planning and roll-out. Each campus may have unique needs, but the core team should include an executive sponsor and representatives from the offices of the Provost/Deans, Marketing/External Relations, Bursar/Student Accounts, LMS Administration and IT – as well as student leaders.

“We really tried to find folks who would understand the perspective of each team to bring that to the table so that we were rolling this out in such a way that everyone’s needs and interests were considered. That was a huge help – having the right people representing each of these groups helped us to communicate with the university at large.”

Kenia Junco, FIU

3. Rethink how you use your bookstore space.

We definitely had to look at how you service your entire population of students in a space that was not intended to necessarily do that. You normally only see a percentage of your enrollment in the bookstore at any given time.”

Donna Morris-Powell, NC A&T

Stores with physical bookstore locations have experience managing heavy store traffic during the rush period at the beginning of the semester. However, with an equitable access program, there will be a higher volume of students picking up their course materials in a shorter timeframe. The right bookstore partner will work with an institution to develop a process customized to their campus, making effective use of the bookstore and other locations on campus, and staffing appropriately.

4. Conduct testing priory launch.

Both directors reaffirmed the importance of following every step on BNC’s implementation checklist to support a smooth and successful roll-out. One particularly important milestone is testing – both with students and administrators. Ensuring the systems are set up properly and addressing issues prior to launch will create a better experience for all, encouraging continued participation in the program.

“We worked very closely with the LMS team and IT to ensure that the files were coming over as they should, and the bookstore was able to access what they needed. The necessary testing prior to the first day of classes was done in a timely manner, so if there were going to be any challenges with the files, we would know ahead of time.”

Donna Morris-Powell, NC A&T

5. Start communicating about the program early and in detail.

“We were holding off a little bit on marketing more details because we didn’t want to confuse students who were taking classes in the summer term when the program wasn’t launching until fall. They made their own assumptions about the program and started sharing those on social media. So, one thing I would say is to get the information out there as soon as possible with all the details. That was extra important for us because we had a little bit of that correction to do for students to understand properly.”

Kenia Junco, FIU

While every institution will have unique factors to consider in the timing of communications, it’s important to stay in front of the conversation among students, parents, faculty, staff and others. To position the launch for success, the cross-functional team’s main communications priority should be helping stakeholders understand how the program works and the benefits it offers. Pairing more traditional communications with fresh tactics and voices is one way FIU reached all audiences.

Bonus: Know that the program is worth the effort.

Like any other new initiative, implementing an equitable access takes time and effort – but, with the right partner, it can deliver transformative results.

“I think that my key message is it’s a value. It’s worth it. It does take work. It does take buy-in from different departments. It does take coordination. But, it’s a real opportunity to offer savings to your students. It’s a real opportunity to streamline processes. It’s a real opportunity for an auxiliary department to improve revenues and service offerings – and, more importantly, really support the students.”

Kenia Junco, FIU

To learn more about the implementation process, lessons learned and successful outcomes, watch Equitable Access: 3 Steps from Inspiration to Outcome.

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