Flash Books: An Inclusive Access Model for Course Materials

Presented by Barbara Boltz & Mandy Munro-Stasiuk


Initiated in Fall 2018, Flash Books is an inclusive access model for course materials that is a collaboration between between Kent State, Barnes & Noble and multiple publishers. The principle of inclusive access ensures that course materials are delivered to students on, or before, the first day of their courses. At Kent State, materials are delivered electronically through BlackBoard as an eBook or publisher integrated interactive content. Students are charged a course fee which is then placed on their bursar’s account, however, by federal law, students have to be able to opt-out of the program, foregoing paying the fee. This program is advantageous to students as they do not need to spend time shopping for the lowest priced books, they are assured of having the proper editions/formats, they have what they need on the first day of class, they can use financial aid to pay the fee, and if they still have problems paying the fee, they can fold it into a payment plan through the bursar’s office. All of this ensures that students have access as soon as their courses begin and they can start preparing and studying immediately. This helps our students as research shows that without the appropriate materials, a student’s chance of succeeding in a course drops significantly. In Academic Year 2019, Kent State offered Flash Books to over 8000 students, and estimated savings to those students was nearly $1 million. Thus far in Academic Year 2020, Flash Books has been offered to over 20,000 students, with saving more than doubling from last year. At the end of each semester we send electronic surveys to all students in Flash Books courses. Barring some hiccups that are mostly publisher related, over three quarters of the responses indicated that students were satisfied or indifferent with the program. They specifically appreciate the cost savings, convenience, digital access, environmental friendliness, and availability of materials at the start of the semester.