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Thursday, October 21 • 1:45pm - 2:25pm
"Inclusive Access" and "Equitable Access" Are Neither Equitable nor Inclusive. Discuss.

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Getting automatically billed for college textbooks is an increasingly common frustration for students in North American higher education. Devised by the textbook publishing and bookstore industries as a more efficient way to generate revenue from students, major companies have pitched this model as a solution to higher education leaders, co-opting words typically associated with open education like affordable, accessible, equitable, and inclusive. "Inclusive Access" has become the common term for programs that automatically add the cost of a student's assigned digital materials to their tuition and fees. "Equitable Access" is increasingly used to describe programs that charge all students the same flat fee for all of their materials.

"Inclusive" and "equitable" are some of the most important words of our time. Use of these words to describe automatic billing raises significant ethical questions. "Inclusive Access" does not make higher education more inclusive, but instead further marginalizes students by taking away their agency to shop for lower prices or avoid digital materials that collect and analyze their data. "Equitable Access" conflates equality with equity—it may charge students an equal amount, but that does not mean each student is treated fairly or that the amount is just.

This discussion will invite attendees to explore the ethics of automatic textbook billing from an equity and inclusion lens. It will also encourage attendees to reflect on how open education is different—and challenge everyone to examine their own use of the terms "inclusive" and "equitable." The session will be interactive with live polling and discussion, and student attendees are especially encouraged to participate.

After participating in this session, attendees will be able to:
  • Examine the ethics of the textbook industry's use of the terms "Inclusive Access" and "Equitable Access" 
  • Compare and contrast automatic textbook billing and open education through an equity and inclusion lens
  • Consider ways open education can continuously strive to be more equitable and inclusive

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Nicole Allen

Director of Open Education, SPARC
Nicole Allen is the Director of Open Education for SPARC. In this role, she leads SPARC’s work to advance openness and equity in education, which includes a robust state and federal policy program, a broad librarian community of practice, and a leadership program for open education professionals... Read More →

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Live sessions will be held throughout the day. Return to the session page shortly before the start time for a link to join the Zoom room. The join button will only be visible to logged in attendees. See the FAQ for more details.Live session formats include panels, presentations, discussions, and open space sessions. Most presentations and panels are recorded and posted by the next day. Discussions and open space sessions may not be recorded, so make sure to attend live.Note that live sessions begin on time, and the capacity... Read More →

Thursday October 21, 2021 1:45pm - 2:25pm EDT
Room B