When starting a new college term, students are faced with a series of important steps. Nail down the new schedule, figure out where the classes are and buy the needed textbooks and supplies. Each student has their own way of tackling that last step, and unfortunately, some paths can place students at an immediate disadvantage. As president of Keystone College, a private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, Dr. David Coppola observed over the years how some students would purchase the wrong materials or endure lengthy delivery processes when shopping online. Some would even forego purchasing course materials all together. To sum it up, a percentage of students were constantly trying to catch up in the classroom.
Dr. Coppola sought a new campus store model and collaboration with Follett Higher Education Group, operator of Keystone College Bookstore, to ensure all students started class on the right foot. Follett presented Dr. Coppola with an equitable access solution called includED®. Follett’s includED program includes the cost of materials with tuition or fees to guarantee each student is equipped with the right materials from day one of class. It also provides greater transparency to the total cost of a course – potentially alleviating another of Dr. Coppola’s concerns:
About 50 percent of our students are the first in their family to go to college. These parents and their children were often blindsided by the additional cost of books... some seemed to feel cheated.
In addition to changing the way students and parents purchase needed materials, the new model would also change the way that students access course content. Campus administration considered transitioning to an all-digital model that would include providing each student with a tablet to manage device access and issues. Dr. Coppola proposed the new model to a small group of students with the expectation of some push back. Rather students embraced the idea, explaining how they already do all their research online using a computer or handheld device.
The positive student feedback proved true as the Keystone College community seamlessly adopted the all-digital includED model launched in fall of 2015. Each term, tablets are issued to new students and digital content is loaded to every student account for easy access through an app like Follett’s BryteWave™ digital textbook reader.
Follett recognizes the important role technology plays in students’ lives,” said Roe McFarlane, Chief Digital Officer for Follett Higher Education Group. “Our multi-million dollar investments in digital solutions like BryteWave and includED are designed around providing each student with hassle-free ‘codeless’ access to affordable, quality digital content.
Non-digital required course items such as safety glasses, art supplies and print books without a digital equivalent are also covered within the program. As an additional bonus, the includED model also helped reduce the cost of materials at Keystone College – saving students and parents between two and five hundred dollars per semester. Further, Dr. Coppola assured there’s no sacrifice of service or experience, noting:
Personal attention and care for students is not lost in this process. If anything, it’s strengthened or highlighted with universal access to resources… unity makes for a more engaging and dynamic learning environment.
Reflecting on the overall success of the program, Dr. Coppola said he expects most colleges will transition to this type of model. He also sees further program potential with equitable access extending to newfound collaborations and community services, stating, “If we can provoke the love of learning in everyone, then we’re doing our job.” The Follett team looks forward to more innovative collaborations with Dr. Coppola and Keystone College.