Headmaster's Report #6: "I've been doing this for six months?!" Edition

  

Headmaster's Report #6: "I've been doing this for six months?!" Edition

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Introduction

So, funny story. This report was supposed to come out 12 hours ago, but I picked up Civilization VI last night and... the whole "one more turn mentality" is no effing joke. Regardless of its tardiness, I do have some great stuff to report so I won't keep y'all waiting much longer.

More Stuff Done in Project Happy Fun Time

Much like last month, the audit is rolling full steam ahead. I'm happy to say we're getting closer to completion and I see no reason this won't be completed by the year's end. As I did in my last report, I wanted to highlight a couple of people really making things happen for us on this project:

  • A department that a lot of people, especially veterans, overlook is our Novitiate Hall Department. However, the courses it contains are some of the basics of membership in our club, and so it's important that the information they contain are continually kept up to date. Darkblade has done a fantastic job of auditing this entire department and providing us a slew of tweaks, updates, and changes to keep the courses he's Professor of correct. Thanks, DB!

  • If you've taken any of the gaming SA courses recently, you know that some of them are a bit outdated. Luckily for us, one of our Docents, Celahir, also happens to be a Magistrate to the FIST and so was able to provide us with some much-needed updates to a number of those courses while our new FIST settles into his position and decides what else he wants me to change. :)

Journeymen Competitions

Last month's project unfortunately had no participants (there were a LOT of vendetta-type competitions going on, so I understand) and Marcus and I chose to take this month off on the competition-running front. However, we'll be back at it come November with what I hope will be something for not only Journeymen but also the Equites and above to participate in. Stay tuned!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

When Aabs and I sat down a couple of months ago and discussed bringing on a course writer to work up a post-ROTJ history course to add to the History Department, our intention was to use it as a trial to see if we could find someone to take on the full Professorship of the department. In Lexic, I'm happy to say, we've found our man. His work so far on the post-ROTJ history course is really shaping up and I'm excited to see what he can do now that Aabs and I have fully turned the reins over to him.

In other, less happy news... last month I discussed with the Dark Summit the possibility of retiring our two IRC courses. Overall, the sentiment seemed it was time to let them go, since IRC as a whole is dying. Likely culprit? My guess is it was Mav in the library with a candle stick - j'accuse! The loss of these two courses will also mean the paring down of my staff by one, so the wonderful Tra'an - who has graded 84 exams in his two years in the SA, and I think most of them were IRC exams - will unfortunately be sailing off into the sunset. Solari is currently working on Wikifying the courses so that their content is still accessible for anyone who still uses IRC. There's got to still be one or two people... right?

Operation: Prereq

Something I've previewed in my last few reports that I wanted to highlight and solicit feedback on is my idea for having course prerequisites. Right now, anyone can take any SA exam they want to - even in cases where there's a sequence, like Markdown 101 and Markdown 201. This also means a brand new member to our club opens up the SA and sees... a lot. That's not a bad thing in and of itself, but one of the ideas I've had in my head for a while is to setup what would essentially be gatekeeper courses that must be passed before moving on toward others. There's a couple of ways we can utilize this. The obvious would be the above example of having to take Markdown 101 before moving on to Markdown 201. However, we could also structure our new member experience in such a way that they have to, perhaps, take DB Basics before seeing anything outside of the Novitiate Hall. I'm curious as to the thoughts of the membership at large on this, so I've enabled comments for this news post to go to the Discourse forum. Let me know what you think!

Projects

Current

Shadow Academy Staff are currently engaged in the following projects:

  • SW History Department Rewrite - Aabs & Farrin: Because of the evil Darth Mickey, my beloved Galactic History courses aren't fully canon anymore. The courses are being pared down (almost in half) and will be added to the Legends Department. With Lexic now in control of this, I'm certain it'll finally be finished with the quality we expect. Estimated completion: End of November, 2016

  • 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. Due to DB canon changes and the fluctuation caused by a new Voice (hi Wally!) this has been tabled to ensure we don't have to re-audit it as soon as everything gets settled. Estimated completion: TBD

  • The Dreaded... AUDIT! (non-SW courses) - PROFs/DOCs, Farrin & Ood: The non-Star Wars courses will be audited for accuracy, typos, etc. Exams are going to be reconfigured and updated. This is damned close to being done, I'm happy to say. Expected Completion: November, 2016

  • The Dreaded... AUDIT! (SW courses) - PROFs/DOCs, Marcus, Rins'zler, Ophelia: The Star Wars-based courses will be audited for accuracy, typos, etc. Exams are going to be reconfigured and updated. Much like the rest of the audit, this has fallen behind what I now recognize was a bit too ambitious of a schedule. However, solid work is being done here. Expected Completion: November, 2016

Upcoming

  • 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 delays in the audit continue to delay the start of this project, but expect to hear more about it before the end of the year. I'm excited about this one. Expected Start: 12/2016; Expected Completion: 1/2017

  • Operation Prereq - Farrin: In order to make a more focused new member experience, different options are going to be explored to create prerequisite courses before other courses open up to a member.. Expected Start: Unknown; Expected Completion: Also unknown. :)

There are some other really exciting things in the planning stages that aren't quite ready for prime time yet, but hopefully will be within the next couple of months. Stay tuned, sports fans.

Top Exam Takers

Name # of Exams # of ACs
Padawan Ka Tarvitz 36 76
Acolyte Hiset Tval 32 32
Neophyte Talos Val 31 15
Proselyte icelevel 23 0
Knight Magik 18 42

Note: these numbers cover the period from 9/23/16 to 10/23/16.

Conclusion

The Shadow Academy covers tens if not hundreds of thousands of words, and those words were written by imperfect humans (GASP!). 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. At the very least, you'll get the thanks of a grateful HM... that's got to count for something, right?

In Darkness -
Farrin Xies,
Headmaster of the Shadow Academy