For the Shadow Academy, 2021 began with the release of a descriptive writing course, the hiring of a new staff member and the launch of the Shadow Academy’s cooperative ACC competition, SARLACC. We’re looking forward to exciting things for this year, but before the month closes, I wanted to take the time to review the accomplishments of our staff, professors and students during 2020. I hope you’ll join me in congratulating them and that you’ll also check out the new additions and improvements to the Shadow Academy if you haven’t already.
Our monthly decathlon competitions award the students who earn the most Academic Credits each month and each quarter (see our December and last quarter of 2020 winners). We also wanted to highlight the top students for both ACs and number of exams for the entire year below (both lists exclude retakes and the rankings are the same if taken by ACs or exams).
1st: Knight Malevek
2nd: Hunter Sulxiros
3rd: Battlemaster Sykes Jade
4th: Savant Von Ricmore
5th: Seer Raziel
6th: Knight Corvo
7th: Knight Tassk Adroc
8th: Ranger Gui Sol
9th: Peacekeeper Elyon de Neverse
10th: Savant Sera Kaern
In addition to highlighting students by quantity of exams, this year we’re also going to begin highlighting the work of students who go above and beyond, including those new members who use the Shadow Academy as a springboard to jump into the community and into other activities that the club offers. There’s a handful of members who have already attracted our attention – so stay tuned in February as we celebrate them!
Often the unsung heroes of the Shadow Academy, our Professors and Docents are the ones behind the scenes making sure courses are graded quickly and that students who need help are provided with positive and constructive feedback. The Shadow Academy has five professors who take on this task, along with docents, ACC judges (for the ACC exams), magistrates, and – of course – the beloved dbb0t.
Last year, 16 members graded 956 exams (883 if you exclude GJW exams). Dbb0t graded an additional 2,909, bringing the year’s total to 3,856 exams.
Of the 883 manually graded exams, more than half were graded by the professors of our Lore and Legends Departments, Sanguinius Tsucyra Entar and Aldaric – each with an average grading time of only 6 hours. Sang graded 247 exams in 2020 (with an as-of-writing career total of 2,339!), with Aldaric right behind him at 207.
While our Lore and Legends Departments are popular among students, all of our professors, docents and staff contributed to helping the Shadow Academy as a whole reach an average grading time of only 11.8 hours (sans GJW exams). Our standard for most exams is a 24-hour turnaround, so less than 12 hours is excellent!
Note that the grading numbers above all include retakes since those have to be graded, as well.
In May last year, we added Crysenia Orainn to our faculty as the Professor of the rebranded Combat & Warfare Department. In addition to contributing to the excellent grading stats for the SA with a personal average of 9 hours, Crysenia replaced an outdated course in her department with the new Personal Armor course, and has plans for more updates in the coming year!
In 2020, the Shadow Academy retired, reorganized, rewrote and authored a number of courses. As a result, we now have 90 active courses for students to take - with more on the way (and a few more scheduled for retirement). These efforts resulted in the streamlining of the Fundamentals Department, the creation of three new Pundit Degrees, the development of the Character Creation & Development Department and the simplification of Journeyman promotion guidelines.
Last year saw the introduction of 11 new courses, authored by six different members, across five departments. Released at various times throughout the year, these courses have already seen a number of exams graded, as reflected in the chart below (retakes excluded, totals as of writing).
A huge thanks to our course authors: Declan, Xantros, Erinyes, Aru and Crysenia!
By the way, if you have an idea for a new course or want to offer your help with something we’re planning, get in touch with me! The Shadow Academy always has projects, so it’s a great way to get some “project work” even if you’re not in a formal position.
In addition to writing new courses for the Shadow Academy, our staff also made some notable updates to a few existing courses in 2020 that you might’ve missed.
Alchemy Studies - The previous format of this course required students to wade through a lengthy PDF that was difficult to navigate. Early last year, Aeternus and I worked together while he was on staff as a Magistrate to migrate its content to a much more digestible format on the wiki. While most of the original content was maintained, we added some organizational headings and links for members to dig into topics that interest them, as well as a few notes on topics that connect with our systems within the DJB (such as links to relevant possessions like Sith Swords, Dark Armor and beasties like the Tuk’ata). Check out the revised course notes here.
Ranged Weaponry Studies - Former Combat and Warfare Department Professor Celevon added a variety of new weapon types to the course and included examples of existing ranged weapons within our possession system. We also added information about the character sheet system to the course so that members interested in utilizing ranged weaponry with their characters may find information on the skills they would need for the different weapon types.
Force Disciples Order Core - Xantros revised this course to (finally) transition it away from the old “Gray Jedi” Order Core to the current Force Disciples concept. The rewrite includes examples of characters from canon who might fit that description as we use it in the club.
Because James is amazing, I now have access to even more Shadow Academy stats, so I wanted to share a look at our most and least popular courses in 2020, which you can see broken down by department below.
It comes as no surprise that our most popular courses for 2020 came from our Fundamentals and Character Creation & Departments, as these courses include many of our entry-level, purely multiple choice courses. New courses topped the list, with Competitions 104: Vendettas just edging out the GJW exam. While their “new” factor certainly played a role in their performance, we also designed many of these courses to function as practical, how-to guides to ease new members into things like navigating the website, building out their own character and competing in vendettas and each of the three major activities the club offers. We hope they’re making all of these things easier for our new members.
In addition to new courses, Character Sheets 101 and Essentials 107: Primer on Member Conduct also held their own in the top 10. These are each notable in their own right. Character Sheets 101 is consistently popular and was also among the top five courses in 2019 with 51 exams graded. A Primer on Member Conduct rose from only 20 exams in 2019 to 45 in 2020 – achieving our goal in shifting this important course into the Fundamentals Department.
The complete top 11 (adding one to account for the GJW event for reference) for 2020, ordered by the number of members who took the course, includes:
While our new Leadership course on Basic Covenant Studies was the most popular course outside of the Fundamentals and Character Creation & Development Departments, the Leadership Department as a whole was the least popular among members and accounted for 9 of the bottom 10 courses, which included:
Fortunately, the Leadership Department is a project we’re already working to improve. Leaders are vital to the continued growth of our club, and the Shadow Academy wants to do everything we can to help equip them. A number of our Leadership courses are older and thus do not include many of the systems and tools available to help leaders today. In 2021, we plan to add several new courses to the department, replacing some and retiring others. The Cryptography and Debate courses in the bottom 10 are likely to be retired, and you’ll see new courses designed to serve as resources for leaders and training to equip more members with the information and tools they need to feel confident stepping into a leadership position.
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