Affordability and low-cost materials continue to be a theme in higher education. According to research, students spent an average of $413 on required course materials and supplies during the 2019–2020 school year. The surprising part? That number had decreased 47% since 2007. The reason is simple: Students and instructors are becoming more resourceful and cost-conscious. Instructors are exploring open educational resources while students are pursuing used textbooks, eTextbooks and even renting books to reduce costs. Fast forward a year, the pandemic has exacerbated the need for affordable solutions, making it even more important to pursue lower cost materials. Let’s explore eight ways to make your WebAssign course more affordable to reduce costs for students.
1. Build Your Own Course with Free Resources
Within WebAssign there’s a variety of free resources including questions, tutorials and assessments for Math and Statistics as well as Physics that you can use to build your own course. Our new favorite resource is Math Boot Camps that address students’ prerequisite skills using embedded remediation.
The challenge with free resources? In addition to not having a specific textbook to point students to, sometimes you need more questions and content to complete your course. Depending on how in-depth your course topics are, you may find some content gaps that you’ll need to fill with your own questions or assignments. The good news is the WebAssign Content Support team is readily available to help you create your own questions. To get started, your students will need to purchase a WebAssign basic single term access code for just $22.95.
2. Choose an Open Educational Resource (OER)
Okay, maybe you don’t have the time to build your own course and want your students to have a textbook to reference. Instead, choose an Open Educational Resource. WebAssign partners with OpenStax and OpenIntro to offer a variety of titles and courses. Each course includes pre-built content and a textbook PDF.
While OER titles are affordable options for students, many schools—including the University of Maryland—weigh the disadvantages of an OER solution, like content quality. For instance, many OER repositories allow anyone to post resources which can result in inconsistent or inaccurate content for your course. If you can look beyond that challenge, you could consider adding some free resources in WebAssign to offer more content variety to support your course. Get started by exploring the available titles with OER in WebAssign for as low as $38.
3. WebAssign is More Affordable with Cengage Unlimited
If a student is taking two or more courses using Cengage products, you want them to know about Cengage Unlimited. In short, for $119.99, students can access a full library of online textbooks, platforms like WebAssign, study tools and more. As you freshen up your syllabus, don’t forget to include some language about Cengage Unlimited.
4. Encourage Other Departments to Choose Cengage Resources
Consider this: The more instructors who use Cengage materials, the more students will save with Cengage Unlimited. If on average, students pay $47 per course for materials and they take five courses, they spend around $235 each semester. However, if all their instructors chose books and online homework solutions like WebAssign from Cengage, students can purchase all their course materials for $119.99.
The hurdle with this cost-saving option is trying to convince your colleague from the Psychology Department to part ways with the same book they have used for the last five years. It’s hard, but not impossible. Use the cost-savings calculator in your discussions with other faculty members to demonstrate how you can save students money.
5. Work with Your Account Executive on an Inclusive Access Deal
Inclusive Access is the process of integrating the cost of course materials into students’ registration fees. Although Inclusive Access is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it does offer competitive rates on textbooks and reduces out-of-pocket costs for students at the beginning of the semester.
One of the hurdles of Inclusive Access includes communication to students. There are always a few students each semester who purchase their materials outside of the school bookstore and then have to undergo the refund process when they realize those materials are already included in their registration fees. However, your Cengage Account Executive can help you navigate these challenges once you get started.
6. Leverage Multi-Term Subscriptions to Keep WebAssign Affordable
If you teach a multi-semester course like Calculus, this tip is for you! Instead of students purchasing access to WebAssign each semester, they can purchase a multi-term plan that lasts the length of the entire course. Plus, multi-term access is included in Cengage Unlimited.
This option gives students a discounted price for access for as long as they use the same textbook and edition. Make sure you provide the ISBN for the multi-term access or include Cengage Unlimited whenever you update your syllabus. Your Cengage Account Executive can provide this information if you can’t find it easily online.
7. Choose a Corequisite Bundle for Additional Remediation
Don’t let cost be a barrier to delivering quality remediation to your students. Within WebAssign, you can adopt a corequisite solution—even if you’re not teaching a corequisite course. Each corequisite bundle grants access to two eTextbooks, assignments and resources for both the prerequisite and credit course. This gives you an abundance of material to address students’ prerequisite skill gaps. The best part? Students pay the same price as they would if you chose the single book. Get started by exploring corequisite solutions available for your course.
8. Recommend eTextbooks Over Print Textbooks
While WebAssign automatically includes an eTextbook for each course, some instructors still see the benefit of recommending a print textbook to students. Although print textbooks support specific learning styles and don’t require technology, they can be costly. In fact, students who take the alternative route of choosing eTextbooks can cut costs by 40% or more. As you update your syllabus, consider suggesting students explore eTextbooks to promote affordable solutions and help them save some money on course materials.
Guide Your Students to an Affordable Education with WebAssign
Regardless of the publisher or textbook you choose, keep your students in mind. Collaborate with your committee and other departments to choose affordable, quality learning materials for students while giving yourself valuable teaching tools that save you time. It’s challenging, but not impossible.
Want a better idea of how much your students can save with Cengage Unlimited? Search for your course in the Cengage Unlimited Savings Calculator to get started!