Headmaster's Report #15: Noah's Ark Edition
I guess you could say the running theme of my past month and a half has been “water.” As those of you who read the July (P)HM report saw, I allowed my incredible Praetor Laren the honor (lolol) of doing my last monthly report because my wife and I were cruising the Caribbean. After that, I felt metaphorically underwater by the run-up to the beginning of the academic year that all teachers feel in August. Finally, for the past week I’ve been concerned about literally going underwater as my home in Houston has been battered by Hurricane Harvey. Luckily, my house rode out the storm with only a little water in the garage and no lasting damage. Unluckily, many of my friends did not weather the storm as well. Thank you to everyone who’s expressed concern for me over the past week, I greatly appreciate it. The Gulf Coast - not just Houston, but a wide swath of Texas and Louisiana - got hit hard, so please keep my friends and neighbors in your thoughts.
One of the areas we didn’t do much to in the audit of the Shadow Academy was work on the Leadership courses. Thanks to the work of my excellent staff, I’m happy to announce the courses have been updated to meet more modern DJB guidelines (i.e. we killed the SWOT analysis). Leadership Management, Leadership Competitions, and Leadership Rewards have all seen tweaks. Leadership Reports, as a new course, did not need them. The final course in that grouping, Leadership Proposals, is undergoing review and will either be substantially reworked or retired.
A question I’ve gotten consistently, both in my #AskTheHM sessions and privately, is what we’re going to do about degrees. As some of you are aware, with the changes we’ve made to certain courses (retiring some, replacing others) there are a few degrees that cannot be earned at this time. This was a conscious decision on my part because without those courses I felt the degrees would be too easy to earn, thus becoming devalued. A project we’ve long had on the back burner but will be moving to the front burner is a full audit of our current degree structure and requirements to find solutions to the degrees that cannot be earned now as well as ensure we’re satisfied with the work required for each of them. As always, any changes to the degrees we make will not affect you if you’ve already earned them. This is a project Laren and I are working on as we speak, and I expect you’ll see the results from this within a week.
Scrolls of Foundation
Twice a year the Headmaster gets to thank the hardworking graders and staff of the Shadow Academy by awarding them Scrolls of Foundation for their work. The number of scrolls awarded to each is a function of how many exams they’ve graded in that time period. The SA could not function without these individuals, and so I want to list them alongside the number of courses they’ve graded during this six month period (from Feb. 2nd to July 31st of this year). When taking out dbbot’s numbers, this list of individuals has graded 828 exams with an average grading time of just under 10 hours. Well done, ladies and gents.
- Augur Sanguinius Tsucyra Entar: 318 (which… holy crap)
- Battlelord Dracaryis: 71
- Seer Kelly Mendes: 68
- Augur Takota Okami: 68
- Knight Reiyden Rosenau: 59
- Warden Celevon Edraven Erinos: 32
- Corsair Mateus Kelborn: 29
- Battlelord Farrin Xies: 28
- Battlelord Bentre Kairn'tel Stahoes: 27
- Seer Edgar Drachen: 23
- Raider Laren Uscot: 19
- Savant Marcus Kiriyu: 12
- Augur Atra Ventus: 11
- Warlord Ood Bnar: 10
- Master Anshar Kahn Tarentae: 9
- Prophet Howlader Taldrya: 7
- Commander Alethia Archenksova: 7
- Warlord Archangel Palpatine: 6
- Reaver Maré Littus: 5
- Adept Kell Palpatine Dante: 4
- Vanguard Korroth: 4
- Augur Kordath Bleu: 3
- Mystic Zednich Wolfram: 2
- Adept Marick Tyris: 2
- Savant Aurora "Aura" Ta'var: 1
- Warrior Thanadd Mawgath: 1
- Augur Xantros: 1
- Vanguard Turel Sorenn: 1
Ask the HM!
Mactire asked: “Do we really have to go back to school?”
- All good things must come to an end. :)
Xolarin asked: “Maybe I missed this since I just returned, but will the requirements for the Dark Savant Leadership and Communication degree be rectified soon? I still need the time in leadership positions, but the IRC and Chamber of Justice courses are no longer available.”
- Instead of pasting my answer to Xolarin in chat, I’ll just point a little above here in my report to where I went into our plan for this.
Tra’an asked: “What suggestions do you have for journeymen on best practices for more advanced exams?”
- Make sure they've read the material, first off. There also no shame in keeping the course notes open in a separate window; you can't copy/paste from the notes, but these are definitely open note tests. Read the feedback given from the grader on what they're looking for with incorrect answers, and always ask questions if you're unsure. the entire SA staff is available for your questions or concerns at any time.
Sang asked: “How are the changes to the prerequisite courses working out? Have they affected them in terms of numbers completed?”
- I've been happy with the prereqs and I haven't heard any complaints about it. As for metrics on its effect, that's not something we've looked at but I would be interested in doing so. I'd also be interested in talking with JM about how they've liked the experience. The best source of that info right now is the Advancement Survey, and people consistently remark that the SA has helped them advance within and understand the DJB as a whole.
Cyris/Bale asked: “What advice would you give someone who has completed core courses but finds the SA daunting and time-consuming?”
- Don't give up, and don't force yourself to do it if you don't want. I'd also love to hear suggestions for SA courses that would be fun for you :)
Mactire asked: “Will some of the lessons and quizzes be updated to reflect the current guidelines in the current universe?”
- Absolutely. Most should be already, and if you see any that aren't please let us know.
DekIroniusII asked: “Over the years there have been rumblings of Clan exams. Are those a thing?
- They used to exist, and then I considered making them exist again. I haven’t made that happen yet, but it’s still something I’m considering exploring.
Hades asked: “Will the GJW have a SA competition?”
- Yes it will. I’m excited about this. :)
Best Atty asked: “Thoughts on removing the stipulation in leadership courses that the days served in a position must be consecutive and start over if not? Would open some doors for folks who have been in leadership a long time but in several moves”
- The rationale on the restriction was to stop position hoping, which I agree with. However, I'd love to find a way to still stop that from happening without the restriction in place. It’s something I was thinking about earlier, and I’m going to talk to James about.
Shadow Academy Staff are currently engaged in the following projects:
Core Leadership Courses Audit - Laren, Kelly, Bentre: Farrin has tasked the staff proper to give the Leadership courses an overhaul. With the exception of Report Writing, which was completed by the ever-amazing super worker known as Wally, we intend to keep the current courses and department structure. The audit has us examining the finer details, everything from the current course notes to question. Estimated completion: DONE!
DJB History I & II Update/Rewrite - Alishu: Alishu has completed first drafts of both courses and they've been sent to the DC for approval. The DC has a lot on its plate right now, but I think we'll see some movement on this soon to get these courses released for all to enjoy. Estimated completion: TBD
Operation Remodel - SA Staff: In an effort to streamline the organization of the Shadow Academy and make it easier to initially get to information and then to find similar information, the SA will see a fairly extensive reorganization. The first phase of this is done, and the graphical elements will begin shortly. Farrin’s RL has delayed this, but hopefully we’ll see movement this month on it. Estimated completion: end of 9/2017
Operation Remodel (Degrees) - SA Staff: The reorganization, as well as the addition/removal of various courses, has left some of our degrees a bit outdated. As mentioned in this report, they are finally being moved to the front burner. Estimated completion: 9/15/17
- There are a couple of things in the earliest planning stages, but aren’t quite ready for prime time. Stay tuned for more.
Top Exam Takers
|Name||# of Exams||# of ACs|
|Battlelord Etah Shankura||40||56|
|Savant Arvalis Raith||27||57|
|Proselyte Jaxor Keth||24||2|
Note: these numbers cover the period from 7/20/17 to 8/31/17 and count both initial attempts and retakes.
The Shadow Academy is an amazing resource, created and administrated by some imperfect human beings who strive for perfection. We try our best to catch and fix any and all errors before we release courses, but we're not always successful. Because of that, we will always need your help. If you spot an error, please report it to the SA Staff using this simple form; if it's a major enough error, or you spot enough, you'll be rewarded. With cookies. And an SA team thankful for pointing it out. And a Headmaster thankful to scold his staff. I kid, he gives us cookies, too.
In Darkness -
Headmaster of the Shadow Academy