Academic Solutions · Article

Course Materials: Bridging the Faculty-Administrator-Student Gap

October 3, 2019

faculty textbook adoption technology

A disconnect exists among students, faculty and administrators when it comes to course materials. Colleges and universities are more focused than ever before on securing affordable course material options for faculty to adopt and providing a broad selection of course materials for students to purchase or rent. At the same time, faculty value academic freedom and have taken the affordability challenge into their own hands — directing students to whatever low-cost sources they deem valuable. Students, for their part, are either delaying buying course materials or not purchasing them at all, negatively affecting their future achievement. The net effect of these efforts is a siloed approach, which dilutes their value and impact.

Faculty may not always be aware of the full range of affordable options available to them, depending on their school’s adoption process and technology. Some may not even be aware that the early adoption of course materials is an important factor in saving students money. Faculty may also simply be busy and adopt later than they intended.

Removing barriers

Where there are knowledge gaps for faculty, there will be gaps for students as well. In fact, in Barnes & Noble College’s 2019 Student Pulse report, 41 percent of students said they do not believe their school is trying to improve affordability. Perhaps it’s not surprising that almost half (49 percent) of students polled did not have their course materials on the first day of class.

The barrier to students purchasing their course materials is not just about cost — it’s about perceived value. Only 22 percent of students said that they couldn’t afford the cost of a new/used textbook. The top reason students gave for not having their course materials on the first day of class? They wanted to check with their professor first (55 percent). When students are hesitant to make the necessary investment in their course materials, it can impact their preparedness and academic success.

Schools need a different approach to help get administrators, faculty and students on the same page about affordable course materials.

Barnes & Noble College has developed a new technology solution that creates better alignment on course materials and demonstrates a clear commitment to affordability. Our Adoption & Insights Portal (AIP) provides faculty and administrators with the right tools to support timely adoption, delivering students the widest possible range of affordable options.

Here’s how each audience engages with — and benefits from — AIP.


With AIP, administrators and academic leaders don’t have to wait until the adoption process is complete to see the big picture. They can view real-time adoption rates, submission progress and affordability data at the institutional, campus or departmental level. The dashboard even drills down to the section level.

Using these insights, they can communicate directly with faculty from the portal in several different ways. The portal can send personalized, automated faculty email reminders as well as display site-wide messages at the top of the dashboard, visible to all users. Administrators also can send on-demand and automated emails to faculty directly from the portal to remind them of due dates.

Going forward, the portal will also share the financial implications of lost adoptions through the reporting dashboard and will display the decrease in affordability as well as lost revenue.

Most importantly, with these tools, administrators stay informed and involved in the adoption process, connecting with faculty in a timely manner to support greater choice and affordability of course materials. The better the options for students, the more likely they are to purchase their course materials through the campus store, protecting and increasing market share.


Ease of use and functionality are always a priority for faculty. AIP makes it simple to manage and adopt course material options each term. A more streamlined platform helps remove the barriers to early adoption — and provides advanced tools that make affordable options easy to find.

Faculty can:

•  Access AIP securely using their institution credentials

•  Use the “Guide Me” support feature for detailed adoption history, search and recommendations

•  See current prices of textbooks in a variety of formats — new, used, digital, rental, etc. — to consider affordability when selecting materials.

•  Browse over 10 million ISBNs and a range of textbooks, eBooks and courseware from all major publishers

•  Review textbooks and course materials used in the past and easily make quick selections using the “One Click Re-Adopt” feature

•  Learn about affordability solutions and recommendations, including OER, as a complement or substitute for traditional course materials

•  Get 24-7 support via an integrated chat and toll-free phone

In addition, if faculty want to use course materials that are not in the AIP catalog, they can add them from within the portal. The solution is designed to help faculty find and use the course materials that work best for them and their students.


While students don’t interact directly with AIP, it can make a tremendous difference for them with regard to access and affordability. When faculty adopt course materials earlier, Barnes & Noble College is in a better negotiating position with publishers, securing better pricing and passing on savings to students. Early adoption also supports greater access to used textbooks, an important cost-saving option preferred by many students.

Additionally, AIP supports affordability measures specifically designed to help students be more prepared — while keeping the process as convenient and streamlined as possible. The First Day™ enhanced inclusive access program provides every student with all their course materials, digital and print, in time for the first day of class. A flat-rate, per-credit-hour cost is included in students’ tuition bills as a course charge, typically resulting in savings of 25 percent or more. Offering the First Day program is one vital way schools can deliver on their commitment to affordability, ensuring students have what they need to be successful.

Barnes & Noble College develops solutions to address the most pressing challenges our campus partners face. With offerings like AIP, we help schools foster internal connections and collaborate more effectively — all to provide students with the affordable options they need to support their success.

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