MURPHY: Access code crock


Ryan Murphy

Every semester, I find myself buying yet another online access code. You’re probably familiar with them, too.  For many courses, they are the only means of accessing texts, activities, homework and quizzes.

In general, the student body holds them in contempt, and this is not unmerited.

When they are required, the student needs a unique code to be able to submit work in his or her name, and without the access code, the student is barred from submitting homework assignments and taking quizzes.  It’s like paying a second time to be enrolled in a class.

This might not be a problem if it were not for the fact that the access codes are always so expensive.  In my time here at Marquette, I’ve spent anywhere from $80 to $140 per access code, and I find that my experience is similar to my peers’; one friend told me about spending over $200 on an access code.

Often, a unique code is required for each text, even if the same company publishes all of them, and it goes without saying that the access code can never be bought used. What makes this more frustrating is that used paper copies of the texts are often available for rental for under $50.

So with all these strikes against them, why do online access codes continue to appear on our book lists? Looking at the subject from a professor’s perspective, nothing could be more convenient.

By requiring students to purchase an online access code, the professor may never have to write a homework assignment or quiz, much less grade one. The time he or she would have spent on those administrative tasks is freed for research or office hours (or, dare I say it, a longer lunch). If the steep price does trouble their conscience, all the professor needs do is remind themselves that the students are getting a lot for their money, what with all the additional learning tools on the site.

As an economics major, I am the last to begrudge anyone for seeking efficiency, but as a student, I raise my eyebrows at the prospect of bearing the cost for a paid faculty member’s convenience.

If the professor requiring an online access code were more concerned with students’ learning than freeing up time in his or her schedules, he or she would realize that they could provide similar materials online with the website Marquette already pays for: D2L.  Yes, it would take more time on their part to write the quizzes, grade the assignments and collect and upload the additional materials, but it would come at a much lower price to the students who are already paying the professors’ salary through their tuition.

Most professors are already taking advantage of the resource we have in D2L, and we applaud them. Too many others seem unaware of the additional financial burden they place on their students when they require an online code.  I would challenge these professors to question whether the online access code is in their students’ best interests or their own.