Immediate Access

Publishers and educational material providers are moving rapidly to develop a variety of digital course materials including, but not limited to: adaptive learning products, courseware, eBooks, supplementary learning materials, homework, examinations, software and other educational products. In a growing number of instances, digital course materials may make the purchase of the materials mandatory for a student to succeed in a course that uses the digital course materials.

The ISU Bookstore, Procurement Services, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), and IT have partnered to develop contracts with publishers and content providers in order to protect student information and develop affordable pricing strategies. As part of the processes that have been developed to enable utilization of Immediate Access digital course materials, the ISU Bookstore charges the university bill of each student in an enrolled course that has adopted Immediate Access. Students then receive access to the digital course materials on the first day of class. According to the Department of Education, the cost of Immediate Access course materials must be below competitive market prices, and students must be offered the opportunity to voluntary opt-out and received a refund within a defined time period.

With the implementation of Immediate Access at Iowa State University, these guidelines have been developed to enable access by faculty and students to the latest innovations in learning materials, while also protecting faculty and students from the potential negative impacts of mandatory digital course material adoptions.


Authorization to adopt Immediate Access digital course materials for a course will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Authorization must be approved by the department chair of the department offering the course after a recommendation from a faculty course materials selection committee or other departmental governance process for course material selection is followed, and subject to the following additional expectations.

  • Immediate access content providers are required to have a contractual agreement with Iowa State University prior to faculty commitment to adopt course materials.
  • Digital course materials transactions must be conducted by the ISU Bookstore.
  • A departmental course materials selection committee consisting of at least three faculty members must agree that Immediate Access is the most appropriate learning materials for the course (as contrasted with conventional paper textbooks or other alternative materials).
  • The course materials selection committee and faculty members involved in the courses/sections that utilize Immediate Access must follow the ISU Bookstore Guidelines for Digital Content Adoption (attached).
  • The selection of Immediate Access digital course materials must be reviewed at intervals of no greater than three years.
  • The use of digital course materials obtained or transacted from sources other than the ISU Bookstore is prohibited.
  • Selection committees are expected to consider carefully the cost to students of course materials and to consider the educational value of the materials relative to costs in comparison to alternative options.

Approved by Provost’s Council- May 13, 2015

Updated to reflect current Department of Education requirements and ISU implementation strategies- May 7, 2018