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Access codes generate mixed emotions

Bailey Workman
News Staff Writer
[email protected]
Regine Criser, an assistant German professor, finds the new academic trend of access codes useful for keeping homework assignments together and students getting repeat practice.

Access codes are digital passwords used to access online course content. Students have to purchase these alongside, or in lieu of, regular course materials in order to complete assignments in college classes.
“The way, for example, it’s set up in German, instead of just filling out a paper copy of your exercises, if you do them online, our German students can do them as many times as they want,” Criser said. “Because you really want them to practice as much as they want. So as long as they do them on time, they get full credit for just attempting.”
Access codes for classes are used at UNC Asheville in French, German and Spanish programs, as well as in the science department in classes such as astronomy, chemistry and biology.
According to a study published by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, online learning has the potential to encourage participation by removing intimidation.
However, not all students are convinced access codes hold the key to the future of education.
Virginia Shafer, a junior health and wellness promotion student from Greensboro, said one of her required access codes for French failed to work properly.
“The professor’s access code stopped working. Everyone’s access codes stopped working and we ended up having to create a new one,” Shafer said.
Shafer said it’s like paying to do her homework in classes where access codes are used. Classes requiring a hard copy of the text as well as an access code forces students to spend more money.
“It was like we had to buy the thing to do our homework. And I guess that was nice because I did like the software they used. I liked the program overall,” Shafer said. “But if you’re just buying the access code for the textbook, then I think buying a print textbook is kind of forcing you to waste your money.”
A study published by the Community College Resource Center found adaptability to online learning was difficult for many student participants, who experienced grade suffering and did poorly compared to a traditional class.
However, Criser said the convenience of the codes outweighs the flaws.
“It can be updated a lot more quickly and a lot more cost-efficiently, if you want to change exercises,” Criser said. “I can add my own exercises, so that seems to be pretty well. I like the online component.”
Students like Kasidy Martin, a junior ecology student, disagree.
Martin uses access codes in chemistry, astronomy and biology classes. She said the codes are too expensive and prohibit students from being able to complete classwork.
“I actually had to drop a course in the beginning of the semester due to the cost of the access code,” Martin said. “It has caused me a lot of stress at times to find money to pay for books and then to pay for homework software on top of that.”

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