Notes in the Margins: Tablets, Friday classes and the learning police

College accreditors become learning police The learning police are on patrol, and some college professors say they have been too quick to the draw recently. Accrediting agencies, pressured by the federal government to ensure colleges are properly educating students, have cracked down on the schools to prove themselves. And that pressure will become more urgent next year, when new rules will force U.S. colleges and universities to demonstrate that students are learning. The shift toward accountability has made the nation’s six regional accreditors the front-line soldiers, a role some of them do not particularly embrace. (The San Jose Mercury News)

State of Washington to Offer Online Materials, Instead of Textbooks, for 2-Year Colleges With a $750,000 matching grant, the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges has started an ambitious program to develop low-cost, online instructional materials for its community and technical colleges. For the Open Course Library, as the materials are known, teams of community-college instructors, librarians, and Web designers from around the state are creating ready-to-use digital course modules for the 81 highest-enrolled courses. The first 43 courses, which are as varied as “General Biology” and “Introduction to Literature 1,” will be tested in classrooms beginning this month. (

Penn State plans to reduce Monday, Wednesday classes Many classes that would typically be scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays will now be held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Rushton said. This change was included in Penn State’s Priorities for Excellence strategic plan, he said, as an effort to control costs and avoid wasting classroom space on Fridays. (Daily Collegian-PSU)

For-profit colleges sue Department of Education A for-profit college coalition co-chaired by a Chicago private-equity executive is suing the U.S. Department of Education over an August report that accused the fast-growing industry of deception and questionable marketing practices. (Chicago Tribune)

SF Student Who Was Scheduled For Deportation Gets Six-Month Reprieve A San Francisco teen who was scheduled to be deported later this month received an Epiphany gift Thursday: a six-month reprieve that will give her lawyers time to build a case for her to stay in the country legally. (SF Appeal)

Expert Predicts a Deluge of Tablet Computers on Campuses In his keynote address at the Higher Ed Tech Summit, Walt Mossberg, the influential technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, told an audience of higher-education officials and company executives that their future held many tablet computers. And not just the iPad, but some of the 70 or so new tablet devices that have been announced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show here. (