Implementing Inclusive Access: Considerations, Obstacles, and Pathways to Improving Student Resource Distribution in an Online Environment
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Any university that wants to remain a major player in the industry over the next few decades needs to have the topics affordability, ease of access to materials and resources, a cohesive student experience, and reducing barriers to education at the forefront of any discussion, strategy, or directional initiative. This is especially true for a university, like Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), known both for higher education innovation and supporting underprivileged student populations. One of the major obstacles in these areas for SNHU is the manual process students go through to acquire access to their course materials in purchasing them through the online bookstore. Not only does this lead to higher prices on materials but also creates unnecessary steps students have to complete in order to be prepared for learning. In a population of students who already face a number of barriers to completing their education, resource acquisition became an opportunity for SNHU to impact students to help them succeed, rather than impede their progress. In late 2017, SNHU began exploring options for inclusive access. This case provides insight into the process by which the team at SNHU performed initial research and discovery, formed a project proposal and team, planned and implemented a pilot of inclusive access, gathered pilot metrics and data, and prepared for future expansion of the program.