Headmaster's Report #7: Good News Edition

  

Headmaster's Report #7: Good News Edition

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Introduction

I spent last night putting up Christmas lights on my house at my wife's urging... in a t-shirt and shorts because it was 83 degrees Fahrenheit. At 6 pm. Even as a native of this wonderful state I call home, this is a bit ridiculous. God bless Texas.

While I was wilting away in the heat (it's almost December! What even is this?!) I was reflecting on the past month's worth of work the Shadow Academy Staff has put forth. Man, what a month it's been! Thanksgiving might be over, but I am truly thankful for everyone who works or has worked for the SA and made it into the institution it is today. It's far from perfect (although we're working on it!) but I for one am certainly proud to work in it. I'm thankful for the incredible staff of Professors and Docents who have worked so hard to audit and maintain their courses; Rins'zler, who has stepped down as a Magistrate but always put quality effort into his work; Ophelia - excuse me, Riku Amahara - who continues to ably serve on our Staff and will soon be joined by a new Magistrate this weekend (I've received some great applications but continue to send them to Marcus and I until Friday!); Oodles the always incredible and thorough institutional memory of the SA; and most definitely my right-hand-man, Marcus, whose help I could not live without as we shape the SA into a better place for all members of the DJB. I could keep listing people, but I know you don't read my reports for shout-outs to my Staffers... you read it because of updates and changes!

"Will he announce the damn audit is finished? Let's tune into tonight to find out!"

Hello New Courses, Goodbye Old Courses!

It's always a happy day when I can announce the completion of a new course, so today is definitely a happy day. Thanks to the work of Rins'zler while he was on Staff, we have a new course in the Combat Studies Department - Ranged Weaponry Studies! This course should serve as a basic primer on some of the more common shoot 'em up bang bang weapons in the SW universe. The Combat Studies PROF, Zednich, is excited about the new offerings and is looking forward to expanding the Department even more for you non-lightsaber-swinging types out there sometime Soon (tm).

The HM giveth, and the HM taketh away. We've also retired two courses permanently and another two temporarily. As mentioned in my last report, the two IRC Studies courses (and the two remaining courses in the Department of Communication) have been retired and their contents have been Wikified thanks for the always-amazing Windos/Solari/Ihi Arikii. You can find them on the Wiki here.

JST in case you didn't read Jac's news post last week, the Chamber of Justice I and II SA courses have been retired. With the release of the new Dark Covenant - Soon (tm) - the courses are being reworked to form an even better entry point into understanding one of the things that makes us so unique as an online club. The new courses don't currently have a timeframe, but I'm excited to work with Jac and his staff to get these put together.

Degree Changes

With the addition of the Ranged Weaponry course and the removal of the IRC and CoJ courses, the Dark Side Degrees have been altered slightly. The Dark Maven - Combat has had Ranged Weaponry added as a requirement while the Dark Savant - Leadership and Communication and Dark Sage - Law have both had courses removed (IRC Operator Studies and CoJ I from the Maven; CoJ II from the Sage). As always, these are not retroactive; if you have already earned one of these degrees, you will not lose it.

It Begins (soon): The SA Restructure

In my application for Headmaster, I shared with Sarin and Mav an idea that Bubba and I had developed to radically restructure and streamline the Shadow Academy. I've had to put that on hold for the past seven months because I felt the audit took precedence. We're within spitting distance of completing the audit, however, and so I'm feeling much more comfortable about discussing our plans.

This is the document that I shared with them back in April. I want to point out a couple of things: obviously this was just the beginning of the idea, and what Marcus and I eventually put forth may or may not be completely true to this (although I think it'll be close). The prereq idea I've mentioned before is a part of this overall idea, so that hasn't gone away - thanks for the feedback on it! Finally, this was created back in April so some of the things mentioned in the proposal might be outdated.

With the understanding that this is a very preliminary idea, I'm going to again open this news post up to commenting on the Discourse forums. Please let me know your thoughts - good, bad, or otherwise.

Projects

Current

Shadow Academy Staff are currently engaged in the following projects:

  • SW History Department Rewrite - Lexic: 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. Lexic has put together a fantastic first draft of a new course to to serve as the history of the post-RotJ world that we should see released soon. Estimated completion: Beginning of December, 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. 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

  • 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. There are just a few last courses to be checked over before I can officially call this done. Expected Completion: Beginning of December, 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. Thanks to Marcus, this section of the audit is tantalizingly close to being done; I expect that within the next couple of weeks. Expected Completion: Beginning of December, 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. Read more about this earlier in my report. 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: 12/2016; Expected Completion: 1/2017. :)

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
Acolyte Kadrol Hauen 29 25
Neophyte Justinios Drake 23 12
Neophyte Amilan Thalos 22 20
Proselyte Nijalah 19 4
Neophyte Gabriel Cruvera 17 10

Note: these numbers cover the period from 10/24/16 to 11/28/16.

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