Blackboard & VitalSource Team Up to Provide Inclusive Access to Digital Content


Every time I sit down with an instructor to talk about the rollout of a new course, I’m amazed by how many different work streams must come together to launch a new course.  All of this happens before the course even starts.  One of the biggest areas of friction when rolling out a new course is often the acquisition of course materials by students.  The result of this friction is not just added cost or delays, it’s also poorer outcomes for students.

All of this friction is leading many institutions to pursue the Inclusive Access model. With Inclusive Access, digital material is provided to all students on the first day of class, usually at a greatly reduced price which is included in the tuition or billed to the term bill. It is one of the fastest growing formats for providing educational content. But Inclusive Access not only provides important cost savings to students—it can also drive academic effectiveness, learner engagement, and better student outcomes.

According to a study by VitalSource, 85% of students delay or avoid purchasing required course materials and 50% say this decision negatively impacted their grades. And without Inclusive Access, the first days of class can be spent getting students set up with materials. Not only is this inefficient for both faculty and students, but it can lead to students falling behind. Inclusive Access has been shown to reduce students’ content costs, increase student engagement, and improve student success.

That’s why we’re happy to announce that VitalSource and Blackboard have teamed up to seamlessly power the Inclusive Access model in the LMS. This expansion of our relationship will automatically provide students with access to course materials within both of our learning management systems, Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Open LMS. This first-of-its-kind integration is expected to be available to institutions in the U.S. through the Blackboard Partner Cloud later this spring.

Many institutions are looking at ways to provide Inclusive Access to their students, but have thus far been stymied by the considerable investment that has been necessary to start and maintain an Inclusive Access program. The VitalSource and Blackboard collaboration will solve many of the problems associated with setting up such a program. It will also deliver VitalSource’s analytic dashboards in Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Open LMS, making  it possible for instructors to better understand the full scope of students’ study habits.

By lowering the considerable hurdles of implementing, delivering, tracking, and billing for digital course materials, VitalSource and Blackboard are creating a solution that will make Inclusive Access available to many more institutions and their students. The result will be lower costs, improved academic effectiveness and better student outcomes.