By Judith Sebesta, Ph.D., Executive Director, DigiTex
Knowledge should be free.
The price of college textbooks has skyrocketed over the past 30 years. Two-thirds of college students say that they’ve delayed buying a textbook because it was too expensive—even though 90% of those students worry that not having the textbook will affect their course grade. In addition, more than 80% of faculty agree that the cost of course materials is a serious problem.
Against this backdrop, a new sales model known as Inclusive Access has taken off. Also known as automatic textbook billing, this model adds the cost of digital course content into students’ tuition and fees. Hardly known five years ago, one in three college students reported participating in at least one Inclusive Access course during the 2020-21 academic year.
How exactly does Inclusive Access work? Does it really save students money? What about this kind of program is “inclusive”? What is in the “fine print”? Straightforward answers to these questions aren’t always easy to find.
We are proud to partner on a new, community-driven initiative to raise awareness of the facts about automatic textbook billing. InclusiveAccess.org aims to be a one-stop-shop for information, tools, and other resources to help administrators, faculty, students, and policymakers make informed decisions about Inclusive Access and its implications for the campus community.
InclusiveAccess.org was developed by SPARC with generous support from the Michelson 20MM Foundation. Partners include DigiTex, AAC&U, Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, Creative Commons, Student PIRGs, Open Education Global, and OpenStax.
Much of our work at DigiTex focuses on expanding availability of Open Educational Resources to students across Texas and beyond. We believe that the advantages of openly licensed instructional and learning materials outweigh the benefits of commercial, proprietary resources. OER support not only affordability but also better learning outcomes for students through enhanced localization and customization of content, as well as unlimited access to that content without a “shelf life” subject to the restrictions of all-rights reserved licenses.
We recognize that institutions may decide to explore and/or implement a range of options to deliver educational resources to their students; in participating in this new initiative, we join our partners in a goal to ensure that the most accurate information informs those decisions. To learn more and get involved, sign up for InclusiveAccess.org email alerts and follow @TextbookBilling on Twitter.