For Seth King, assistant professor in the College of Education, ensuring students have access to affordable content in the virtual teaching and learning environment is a high priority.  

“Considering the textbook for my Introduction to Behavioral Analysis course was a new edition, the cost savings between the physical text and eText was substantial,” King said. “I know students are struggling, so I thought the lower price point would be appreciated.” 

Part of the Affordable Content Initiative, ICON Direct provides options to buy digital textbooks and course materials for a lower price than their printed equivalents. Prices vary significantly, but on average, students save $45 per course. The materials are made available through the University of Iowa’s membership in Unizin, a nonprofit consortium of universities.  

Nancy Abram, associate professor of practice in the Tippie College of Business, started using the platform three years ago. Today, ICON Direct delivers digital course content to both her large-lecture course, Introduction to Marketing Strategy, with 600 students, and her smaller Supply Chain and Merchandise Management course.  

“I found course materials that meet my objectives and help students succeed, with features like practice quizzes, the ability to highlight content, and more,” Abram said. “ICON Direct delivers that content at reduced cost, and students have immediate access to it.” 

The adoption of digital course materials continues to grow at a rapid pace—this semester, one-third of UI students are in at least one course that uses ICON Direct.  

To ensure a seamless transition, King recommends communicating with students in advance. “Ensure students understand how the material is paid for and how it’s accessed,” King said. “Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, most students seem to like using eTexts.” 

“Our students are accustomed to eTexts, even though instructors may prefer the physical books,” Abram said. “And if instructors choose to use ICON Direct, they will be well supported by the Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology.” 

For more information, visit the OTLT website. If you have questions, email

The spring order deadline for ICON Direct course content is Monday, Nov. 30. To place an order, use the ICON Direct Order Tool