College Course Materials Undergoing Change in Format, Pricing and Distribution

College Course Materials Undergoing Change in Format, Pricing and Distribution

College course materials continue to undergo change from format to pricing amid shifts in demand from student purchasers, among the instructors who make initial adoptions for courses, and among institutions, where curriculum requirements and offerings are being adjusted and where guidelines on fee structures and how course materials can be acquired are changing.

These changes have been percolating for several years and gained steam in the first half of 2018. In the newly available State of College Course Materials 2017-2018, Simba Information examines the changing dynamics of the higher education market and this impact of those changes on the course materials industry.

In May 2018, for instance, the University of Colorado provost formed the Open Educational Resources Advisory Committee, charged with finding ways to reduce the financial burden of course materials for students. Recommendations were to include how to allocate $1 million that had been pledged to fund more affordable course materials.

While UC turned to open educational resources as a way of reducing student costs, Columbia College in Missouri demonstrated another trend in course materials by streamlining the fee structure beginning in the fall 2018 semester for students taking online or evening classes. Extra fees and some costs for course materials were not separated out. Fees of $375 per credit hour included all fees and course materials.

Institutions also are taking fresh looks (and making changes) at core curriculum requirements. In one of the major changes for incoming students, the California State University System in fall 2018 no longer required incoming students to take placement exams in English and math, nor is the system requiring students to take non-credit remedial courses.

Such a move at such a large system is having an effect on the course materials industry. Pearson chief executive John Fallon said that the company in 2018 was feeling the pressure on its once-dominant MyLab digital program from the changes in developmental math as that segment of the market went through what he described as “significant restructuring.” The company is testing a new digital program in fall 2018 that is expected to be launched in spring 2019.

Another broad change in the course material arena is the build-up of student services such as tutoring, offered through partnerships in conjunction with some course materials or as stand-alone services through companies such as Chegg. Publishers themselves not only are partnering with tutoring providers but are incorporating artificial intelligence in their curriculum offerings to assist and encourage students during the learning process.

For more information on Simba’s new report, State of College Course Materials 2017-2018, visit: or call  (US): 888.297.4622 (Int): +1.240.747.3091.