Equitable Access & Inclusive Access Programs: Fact vs. Fiction

Equitable Access & Inclusive Access Programs: Fact vs. Fiction

Equitable Access (EA) and Inclusive Access (IA) have become two commonplace terms in higher education today. But many people get these two terms confused, or wrongly assume they can be used interchangeably. When it comes to ensuring equitable or inclusive access to students today, it’s critical to understand what these programs are and how they work.

At Willo, we equip campuses throughout North America with the technological solutions they need to implement EA and IA like never before. With fully integrated LMS functionality, day-one access to courseware, and the best price for course materials guaranteed, Willo ensures your campus population has the tools they need to succeed. No matter what business model your campus uses, Willo provides seamless, all-in-one support. 


What is Equitable Access?

Equitable Access is a business model where a campus can provide students with all their course materials for a more affordable per-term or per-credit hour price. Course materials are often digital-first, but include physical texts and items used in all courses. These affordable, accessible course materials can be automatically bundled with students’ regular term fees. The digital course materials are always available to students via the campus LMS, on or before the first day of class.

The EA model makes all course materials accessible throughout the institution as a whole, no matter what class a student is taking. Every student and instructor automatically gains access to their digital materials on the first day of each term, with the ability to opt out of First Day Digital Access (FDDA) for specific courses if they want to purchase their own textbooks or materials. 


What is Inclusive Access?

Inclusive Access is a similar model of digital course material delivery to EA. However, instead of being implemented throughout the entire campus, Inclusive Access is set up on a selected course-by-course basis. Departments and instructors can choose Inclusive Access for specific classes, but the program isn’t automatically applied to every course or every student enrolled.  

The National Association of College Stores found that in 2022, 39% of students received course materials through IA programs compared to only 15% in 2019. Many students prefer instant access to online materials, especially since it’s a more affordable option than purchasing their own textbooks. 


Top Myths About Equitable Access 

Because Equitable Access is campus-wide, several main concerns arise among institutions while considering an EA program. Let’s dispel a few misconceptions.

Myth: Instructors lose their academic freedom to choose specialized course materials for their classes.

Fact: Sometimes, certain campus-wide access programs can limit instructors to specific course material options. But with a comprehensive technology solution like Willo, your campus instructors are no longer limited to individual publishers. Teachers can choose from more than 6,000 educational content providers, ensuring that academic freedom remains at the forefront of your campus. 

Myth: Equitable Access overwhelms students with a large bill on top of their tuition and fees.

Fact: Aggregated course material costs empower students to make better financial decisions and to easily allocate student financial aid payments. This results in dramatically lower costs of materials and supplies per term. Providing students and their families with an itemized bill for all course materials eliminates confusion, encourages student retention, and improves savings. 

Myth: Equitable Access results in data security risks for students and instructors.

Fact: In today’s digital environment, privacy and data security are top priorities. Depending on the campus LMS, original Equitable Access programs can sometimes present data risks if they lack secure features such as SSO (single sign-on) or fail to meet LTI standards. 

Using Willo for campus EA programs increases student privacy by condensing multiple LMS integrations into a single platform, exceeding industry standards of data encryption. Students and instructors also receive the option to opt out of sharing their personally identifiable information with publishers. Lastly, Willo does not store student academic data such as grades or financial status.


Common Myths About Inclusive Access 

With the rise of online education and digital materials, colleges and universities have had to champion new alternatives to coursework. There are several myths regarding Inclusive Access programs. Let’s clarify.

Myth: Students and instructors are forced to use digital materials at a set price.

Fact: With Inclusive Access, campuses partner with publishers to obtain course materials at prices below market rate. This allows students easy access to more affordable course material options. However, students can opt out if they prefer. They can instead select new or used textbooks, rented materials, or other retail options. Instructors may also opt out if they do not wish to utilize IA options for their classes. 

Myth: Including IA course material costs in student tuition limits students’ buying power.

Fact: While it’s the institutions’ responsibility to inform students of their course material options, automatically receiving discounted prices for day-one access is often a preferred, convenient outcome for students. In fact, student opt-out rates remain low across campuses that use IA. Plus, digital course materials can be accessed in a variety of formats, including eBooks, eReaders, printable versions, and even audio files. 

Myth: Students who drop or withdraw from a class using IA will lose the money they spent on course materials.

Fact: Within the IA program, students gain access to course materials on day one, but are only billed after the “drop” deadline. 


#1 Equitable and Inclusive Access Option: Willo Labs

At Willo, we provide your campus with an equal, affordable course materials option — no matter what business model your campus store uses.

Whether you already serve your entire institution with Equitable Access or want to implement an Inclusive Access program for specific courses, Willo allows your campus to manage everything in one place

Equitable Access and Inclusive Access remove barriers to student success and allow a more effective learning experience, both digitally and in person. The best part? Willo’s platform encourages enablement at scale, supporting campuses through changing demands while prioritizing student success. 

Make course materials more accessible and affordable than ever for your campus. Set up the first and only all-in-one EA and IA integration available today. Meet with us to learn more.