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How Seneca College Discovered and Delivered a Superior Course Materials Journey

WESTCHESTER, IL, Mar 16, 2018When Seneca College Newnham Campus Store Manager Mark Wallace was first introduced to the concept of Follett DiscoverTM, he couldn’t wait to talk to his partners at the Toronto, Ontario, campus about implementing the tool for Seneca College faculty and students.

A driver for course materials access and classroom success, Follett Discover is a comprehensive suite of tools currently used by more than 500 college campuses across the U.S. and Canada.  Instructors can use Follett Discover to research and adopt course materials with ease, while students are better prepared for class by having convenient access to course materials through their learning management system.

Mark approached his business contacts with confidence; he knew that, in addition to enabling hassle-free access to content, Follett Discover could also have a major impact on course materials affordability for students.  The tool makes it easier for faculty to choose and submit their adoptions on time, so the bookstore is better prepared to source the lowest-cost options for students - like used and rental editions.

“I had the immediate support of my campus after I walked through all the benefits of Follett Discover.  My campus contact saw the mutual benefits for us at the store as well to the students and faculty,” explained Mark.

By fall 2016, three Seneca College campuses - Newnham, King and York - were up and running on two of the four Follett Discover modules: Adopt (for faculty) and Access (for students).  This accomplishment was the result of true teamwork among the Seneca campus stores, Follett’s home office team and the campus’ IT teams. 

Once the tool was properly integrated within the campus’ systems, Mark partnered with the school to train faculty and staff on the new process for submitting their course material adoptions.  Faculty and staff members were asked to attend one of 25 training sessions held across the Seneca campuses.

 “We supplied training in computer labs where they could use the tool, ask questions and troubleshoot in person. Each user was also given step-by-step training documents that were created and designed specifically for Seneca College staff.  We also held one-on-one sessions with department chairs and deans,” Mark added.

To prepare students for their new one-stop course materials access point, Mark helped the campus prepare and deploy an all-student email blast before the start of the semester.  In addition, communications were displayed on electronic boards across campus reminding students to access their text information through Follett Discover.

Stacy Zapko, group vice president at Follett, recognized and applauded the collaborative effort on training. “The team at Seneca was instrumental in making this happen and driving change on campus,” she said.

The extensive training and communication paid off.   By fall 2017, Seneca’s faculty adoption rate tripled through Follett Discover – meaning more instructors submitted their course materials requests on time thanks to the convenience of the online tool.   This ultimately did three things:

  • It allowed the bookstore to secure low-cost course material options at the right time for students.  In fact, from fall 2016 to fall 2017, sales for used textbooks increased at both the Seneca Newnham and Seneca King campuses.
  • More students were able to acquire their materials quickly and conveniently, demonstrated by a 21 percent increase in average online order values from fall 2016 (with orders placed directly through the campus website) to fall 2017 (with orders placed through Follett Discover).
  • It put more money back in students’ pockets during buyback.  When the bookstore knows that a book has been re-adopted for another term, it is able to offer 50% of the original purchase price to students selling back books – known as ‘half-back buyback’. When comparing half-back buyback trends from 2016 to 2017, Seneca Newnham experienced a 35% increase in the amount of money paid to students during the winter and a 61% increase in the amount of money paid to students during the spring.

Aside from the cost-savings benefits, Follett Discover has attracted a lot of campus praise for its convenience and accessibility.

“The staff and faculty like the fact that they only see what is in their responsibility profile. They can easily run compliance reports and see what is in need of attention,” said Mark. 

He added that students like the one-stop convenience within their LMS. 

Aaliyah Hinds, a Seneca student working on her Bachelor of Behavioral Psychology, explained how the tool has simplified the process of acquiring her materials.

“I love that Follett Discover makes it so easy and convenient to know what textbooks I need for all my courses. Not to mention with a few clicks I can have all my books ordered online and to be picked up in-store for free! It saves me a lot of time not having to search online for my books,” she said.

And, while Follett Discover is an online tool, the benefits can also be appreciated through the in-store experience. Follett Discover has allowed Seneca to implement Shop by Author, a program that organizes text shelves by authors’ last names instead of by course.  The program has been proven to make it easier for students to find what they need and drive an increase in text sales.  Like most Shop by Author campuses, the new configuration delivered significant space savings at Seneca, which the store used to expand merchandise offerings.  Ultimately, this had a direct impact on sales, leading to increases in gifts and apparel.

As Follett’s first Canadian partner to implement Follett Discover, Seneca has proven to be a trailblazer for the tool’s success and growth in Canada. In fact, many of Seneca’s suggestions on how to improve the tool - including streamlined reporting and navigation - were adopted by Follett, ultimately becoming enhancements for all users. 

Over the past year and a half, six other Canadian Follett campuses have followed Seneca’s lead, and dozens more across the U.S. and Canada are in the pipeline to go live on Follett Discover in 2018.  

To learn more about Follett Discover and delivering a hassle-free course materials journey, go to