The start of the new year also means the beginning of a new semester for college students — and new textbooks. Coming right on the heels of the holidays, many students are especially concerned about the costs of their course materials. Fortunately, schools and systems are looking for ways to keep those costs down.
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), which comprises 16 colleges with over 70 campuses, has worked closely with Barnes & Noble College to develop ever-expanding low-cost options and programs offered through the system’s campus bookstores. Over the last two academic years, this ongoing effort has saved students an average of $109 per year — and generated an overall savings of $14.5 million.
Helping students save money and be better prepared for class often go hand in hand. First Day is an inclusive access model, in which course materials are included in the cost of tuition and delivered through a school’s learning management system (LMS), ensuring students have their course materials on the first day of class. Students don’t have to enter an access code — or wait to get their materials. Even better, First Day creates an average savings of 40 percent compared to the same content outside of the model.
First Day was one of the first of its kind in the nation when introduced through KCTCS bookstores, and it’s highly popular with students so far. In the past two academic years, KCTCS students purchased more than 191,000 units across 10,572 course sections, saving nearly $5 million. “Accessing the textbook was a breeze,” says Coty Carroll, a Maysville Community and Technical College student. “Having it on the first day of class made me more prepared for my biology coursework. As a full-time student who works two jobs, the reduced cost of materials was appreciated — and my wallet thanks you.”
Barnes & Noble College also set out to expand course material catalogs and provide more options for faculty with First Day, collaborating with five major educational publishers, including Cengage, Pearson, McGraw, Wiley and Hawkes Learning. Faculty appreciate the savings for students, but they also point out the impact on student success as a priority. “I teach both online and hybrid classes, which includes digital content from the publisher,” said Betsy Langness, professor at Jefferson Community and Technical College’s Shelbyville campus. “By allowing students immediate access to the online content, we remove added barriers from the students’ learning process, which means they have a better chance of being successful.”
For the 2017 fall semester, three colleges within KCTCS also took part in a Barnes & Noble Education (BNED) digital courseware program. Offered through First Day, BNED Courseware provides a low-cost alternative to traditional textbooks. The digital course content includes videos, activities and auto-graded practice assessments that make it simple for faculty to customize and align with class objectives.
More than 1,000 KCTCS students used BNED Courseware this semester in courses ranging from psychology and developmental math to American history. In an initial follow-up survey, students shared positive reactions to the new courseware.
• 78% rated the overall Courseware experience as good or excellent.
• 86% said the textbook (eBook or print option) was the same or better compared to other texts used in college.
• 74% said they watched all or nearly all of the videos included in the Courseware.
• 83% said the videos helped explain the concept.
• 85% used the self-checks included in the Courseware.
In semesters to come, KCTCS and Barnes & Noble College plan to expand this initiative — and develop additional programs and options to increase affordability and access for students. “We continue to incorporate new options for textbooks and other course materials to keep the cost of college as low as possible for our students,” said KCTCS President Jay K. Box. “Barnes & Noble College has been a great, innovative partner for us.”