Students, Faculty concerned about cost of common learning tool
CALGARY, April 10, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, Campus Stores Canada (CSC) released a landmark study on the use and perception of "access code" learning materials among Canadian students and faculty. The study demonstrated that the use of such codes was widespread, but more education is needed regarding how they work and how much they cost.
"As campus retailers, we wanted to make sure we properly understood attitudes towards an increasingly popular learning tool," said CSC Executive Director Wayne Amundson. "This report gives us a detailed picture of how students and faculty use access codes, how they choose and buy them, and what challenges they faced in using them."
Access codes are a type of digital learning material used widely at post-secondary educational institutions in Canada. Specifically, they are dynamic online course content that is password protected. The survey found that 2/3s of students had purchased an access code, with 2/5s of those who had bought one this year doing so because it was required. Just more than 40% of faculty had integrated an access code into their course(s).
"Despite use of access codes being common, the study shows that there is still more education needed on how they work," continued Amundson. "As an example, there was a large misperception among both students and faculty that codes just gave access to an e-book, rather than additional content beyond what was in print. Some instructors also thought that codes could be shared among students and were confused as to whether they can be returned."
Technical challenges were a common problem for users. About 1 in 4 students reported having challenges using the software, and instructors were usually the first point of contact for technical support. A significant number of the nearly 1000 faculty respondents flagged this as a problem, suggesting that they were spending too much of their time helping students just operate the software.
"This survey has also made it clear that the growth in access codes raises serious questions about costs to students," said Amundson. "There is a widespread belief that these codes are unfairly priced, with 3/4s of students thinking that they are too expensive. One third of students that bought access codes only did so because they were bundled with a textbook. There is also significant concern for the impact that they are having on students' ability to use second-hand, rented, or borrowed textbooks. Student budgets are tight enough as it is, so cost must be considered when integrating new learning tools."
Academica Group Inc., a leading consultancy firm that works exclusively in the higher education sector, conducted this study. Students and faculty at 25 institutions were asked to complete an online survey, which received more than 10,000 responses. The report is available at http://bit.ly/CSCstudy. Media interested in a complimentary copy of the report should contact Michael Powell or CSC.
Campus Stores Canada's mission is to provide a unified voice and deliver quality education and services to Canadian post-secondary, institutionally owned and operated Campus stores, enabling them to serve their institutions in the most effective manner. Campus Stores Canada presently represents approximately 100 member stores nationwide with over 150 associates (vendors and suppliers). Store membership is restricted to post secondary institution-owned stores.
SOURCE: Campus Stores Canada
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