Kimberly Holland and her team at Kennesaw State University Bookstore are on a mission to support student learning. If you’re surprised a campus store’s primary goal is student success, you may be shocked to learn that campus stores across the country are leading the charge to improve course materials affordability and access. In fact, at KSU, the store team has spent nearly six years working to bring to life a program that offers affordable, day-one access to course materials, all to benefit students.
I recently sat down with Kim, the associate director of university stores, and DelShaun Hudson from the KSU University Store, at the Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA) Conference in Jacksonville, FL to learn how their Day One access program was born.
For the KSU store team, it started back in 2013. Kim and her team first tried to secure campus buy-in on the Day One program when fewer than half a dozen stores were piloting similar models. While she faced many obstacles along the way, she persevered and continued to socialize the model with stakeholders across the institution—from senior leadership and instructors to IT.
“We realized we needed to do something to give students a better experience,” said Kim. “We had students waiting in line for half an hour to get four pieces of cardboard with courseware access codes. We brought our IT team together and talked about improving the access code experience.”
Kim added, “The IT team was supportive, but there were concerns around the number of integrations required, and our financial aid team had concerns around charging student accounts.”
To address these concerns, Kim held individual meetings with all of the key teams on campus. “These one-on-one meetings were really effective for developing partnerships. We helped our financial aid director to feel more comfortable by sharing references of other universities that were running similar programs. He talked to the references and then came back and fully supported our efforts.”
“We finally got our Day One program off the ground in fall 2018 with one course and a total of 125 students. In the current term (spring ‘19), we’re running six courses—a total of 41 sections and 2,400 students. This represents student savings of $60,000 off already low digital list prices. Our goal is to double the program for fall,” said DelShaun Hudson, assistant director at the KSU store.
Another key to Kennesaw’s success? Partnerships with publishers. “Kennesaw State has always viewed publishers as our partners. When we were getting started, I met with faculty alongside publishers to show our partnership and that helped faculty members feel more comfortable,” said Kim.
Kennesaw powers its Day One program with Verba Connect™, the leading Inclusive Access management platform. Kim added, “When we were first going through the process with stakeholders, the team at Verba | VitalSource were key; their patience was amazing!”
Now that the program is up and running, the word is spreading among instructors that the program benefits students. “Faculty are eager to enroll their courses. It carries more weight when information comes from their peers rather than the store,” said Kim.