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Sunday, September 26, 2021

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This year, nearly 150 courses are expected to offer electronic course materials through Immediate Access. This year, nearly 150 courses are expected to offer electronic course materials through Immediate Access.
 


SDSU’s Immediate Access Projected to Save Students $4M

The Immediate Access program at SDSU helps ensure students have access to important course materials.
By La Monica Everett-Haynes
 

“This is really about student success and improving access to course materials while providing cost savings.”

Through its Immediate Access program, San Diego State University estimates it will save students $4 million in textbook costs during the current academic year. 

Adopted by a handful of other higher education institutions in the United States, Immediate Access (sometimes called Inclusive Access) has become a national model for providing students with digital textbooks in an effort to make course materials more accessible and affordable. 

This year, nearly 150 courses are expected to offer electronic course materials through Immediate Access—up from about 80 last year, said Todd Summer, CEO of Aztec Shops.

“This is really about student success and improving access to course materials while providing cost savings,” said Summer, also SDSU’s associate vice president of Business and Financial Affairs. “We want students to have flexibility and freedom to make their own choices about how they access course materials.” 

This semester alone, nearly 18,500 students are enrolled in 65 Immediate Access courses representing 300 sections of those courses. 

Students have the option of opting out of the program. Those who choose to remain in the program can retain their e-books for a reduced fee and also have access to other digital materials meant to complement in-class instruction. 

SDSU’s Course Materials department estimates that if 94 percent of students choose to remain in the program this fall, which is expected, the overall savings on course materials would be about $1.8 million for newly printed textbooks and $440,000 in savings compared with regular digital access materials. 

For example, a financial accounting book that generally costs about $197 new is offered via Immediate Access at $109. A $360 intermediate accounting book is offered at $122. And an organizational behavior book priced at about $117 for a new printed copy goes for $55 when students opt for Immediate Access. 

“Student access to course materials from day one eliminates the wait time faculty often provide for students to acquire their textbooks,” said James P. Frazee, senior academic technology officer and SDSU’s director of Instructional Technology Services. 

The program’s structure allows faculty members to begin more frequent, low-stakes assessment of student learning through the use of quizzes or other course-content based activities, Frazee said. It also encourages students to engage with the content earlier in the semester, he said. 

“Because the materials are available digitally, faculty can also observe how students are using the content including areas where they may be struggling, helping to inform course design improvements,” Frazee said. 

Sam Kobari, a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology, was one of the first adopters of Immediate Access when the program was first piloted in spring 2016. 

“My concern has always been with costs to students,” said Kobari, who shared his own experience managing student loan debt. “I believed that if I could do anything to mitigate costs for my students, I would.” 

WATCH: Sam Kobari on Immediate Access

In addition to offering the textbook for his online and face-to-face classes through Immediate Access, Kobari chose to also utilize quizzes via the online platform. 

Even during the pilot phase, students expressed being pleased with the program, Kobari said. 
  
“They don’t have to spend all this time searching for a book. They don’t have to figure out which retailer will offer the best price. They don’t’ have to stand in line to purchase a book,” he said. “And everything they need is ready before school starts.” 

Supplementary to cutting costs, Immediate Access is responsive to the demands of the digital revolution, as students are calling on colleges and universities to move certain services online and in ways easily accessible via mobile devices. 

“Immediate Access has even made a difference in how I address course material. It removes all the busy work that gets in the way of student learning and student success,” Kobari said. 

“Students are already using online platforms and expect to be sitting in front of a computer–this makes it a lot easier for them. And I now know that every student will have access to the correct version of the course material they need to be successful in the classroom.”