Access codes ‘unnecessary’ cost for students

Natalie Bee

Students will more than likely be required to purchase an access code for a class while obtaining their undergraduate degree, which most consider an “unnecessary” cost.

Digital access codes are passwords used to gain access to online course content and are most often used to complete homework and quizzes for a class. These codes cost around $100 when bought alone and $126 on average when bought in a bundle including the textbook.

UNA uses the learning management system, Canvas, to connect with students in the same way these courses students are buying access to. Canvas is used for students to submit homework and quizzes as well, so why do they have to pay access to do what they already can for free?

When a new semester begins, most students sell their textbooks they no longer need to other students at a discounted rate. The issue with access codes is they are a one-time use product and grant access for only six months most of the time. A student could try to sell the textbook if they got the bundle, but it may be difficult to sell if the student also needs the access code.

While the online course content for these classes may provide additional learning tools to help students study and prep for exams, it seems unnecessary. In my experience, the information from this content varies from the information in lecture most times. This could make it harder for students to foresee what information is important.

In all the classes I have had to purchase access codes for I was purchasing them to satisfy only 10-15 percent of my overall grade. The purpose of the codes in all my classes was for completing and submitting homework. I spent at the most $130 on a code alone just for 10 percent of my overall grade for a class.

Students may find additional tools available on the online course content to be beneficial for online courses. I find that the online courses that utilize them are structured better than just having accessible on Canvas. As for lecture-based classes, I feel Canvas should be utilized more often since students will receive the majority of their information from lecture.

Professors may see these additional interactive learning sites as a way to save them time from creating assignments themselves, but information directly from them would be more helpful for students. It could also help students who typically buy used books and struggle to afford these access codes.

Students are currently unable to opt out of purchasing access codes for the classes that require them. I propose that professors evaluate if access codes are actually necessary for their courses and change the policy if need be.