If you’ve been following the higher education press, you’ve likely noticed the coverage of the many issues surrounding inclusive access course materials programs. While the intentions behind inclusive access programs are good, when they are not handled correctly, the results can be detrimental, from increased pricing and elimination of student choice, to non-compliance with applicable regulations.
Inclusive access requirements appear to be quite simple, but implementation can be difficult without the necessary controls in place. Under an inclusive access program, students who are enrolled in a particular course automatically receive their required course materials (print, digital, and all other items) prior to the start of class. The cost of the materials is either bundled with students’ tuition fees or billed as a separate resource or materials fee. Regulations require that students have the option to opt-out/decline most course materials, freeing them to choose to purchase materials on their own.
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Herein lies the challenge. When students are told they can’t opt-out without a reason or when the path to opt-out is so confusing that they have difficulty completing it, the entire process backfires. As an industry whose sole mission is built around helping students succeed, barricading the opt-out process not only goes against regulatory compliance, it goes against everything education technology is capable of.