April 19, 2015

The Trouble with Teaching

When I first volunteered to start helping Noir. Academy, back in early 2013, I had just started a job which had me playing video games from home. It didn't work out (surprise surprise), but at the time I had nothing but time, so I figured I'd be happy to help out the program that got me where I am today, taught me how to PvP, helped me find my EVE home. So when, at a corp meeting, volunteers were called for, I said I'd help with recruitment. Little did I know what that would turn into.

Helping with recruitment is basically the easiest thing I could have done for Noir. Academy. As much as I treasured the corporation, the program, and what it had done for me, I had gone through it out of necessity, not love. The goal was to join Noir., and Noir. Academy was a stepping stone. So while I was happy to help a bit, I had no intention of, nor desired to focus the majority of my efforts on a training corporation. I had seen what had happened to the two CEOs previously: burn out, and quick. It's a lot of work and it's certainly thankless. 

But, before I knew it, I was basically running the thing. And to be honest, I didn't mind. The more and more I got involved, the more I enjoyed it. I really liked being able to shape the program, try and create better pilots, fulfill a student's needs before he realized he had them. But my attention was split. I was, and am, a Noir. pilot first. I'm the CEO of Noir. Academy second. A huge part of my reform was to try and provide a great learning environment with very little instructor overhead. As you can imagine, that's easier said than done.

After a handful of tweaks the first iteration of the program, a few major tweaks, and one gigantic one (moving Noir. Academy into the Of Sound Mind) alliance, I've come to the obvious realization that there's just no substitute for full-time instructors. The second obvious realization is that Noir. pilots are here to be in Noir., not train students - much like myself. I had a couple of guys volunteer to move down to Catch with NA. and be there full time, but unsurprisingly they didn't last terribly long. It's just not what we signed up for.

I believe I've created a terrific program, and if I only had five full-time instructors, it'd run almost flawlessly. But I don't, and I probably never will. So, with that in mind, it's time for a change - and while I'm not sure it's the best one long term, it is the best one for the foreseeable future. And there's a chance that it'll actually become a great choice, one that will be sustainable and enjoyable.

I sat down with my instructors Saturday and had a pretty long meeting. I wanted to nail down a lot of things in detail, and I'm really happy with what we came away with.  Here's what we decided:

  1. Noir. Academy is leaving Of Sound Mind Alliance and joining No Not Believing Alliance.
    1. This was the biggest decision. I've been super happy with OSM and their treatment of my students, and generally students have been very happy with the situation too. However, we've found that the divide between Noir. and Noir. Academy was too great. We're going to be careful not to return to a state where students felt no impetus to graduate, but we feel it's critical that we're constantly in connection with them at all levels.
  2. There won't be any more "Stages" in the academy. You're either in or you're out, whether you graduated or you were kicked.
  3. The hard limit to graduate is going to be enforced at three months.
    1. We had this before, but I felt it was unfair to students to kick them if we weren't able to provide timely classes. And I was also bad about removing people who took extended breaks. 
  4. Students will be limited to a specific set of ships that feel are important to master yet won't be a detriment to a contract if multiple ships are lost in good learning experiences. We'll provide them, but students need to pay for them.
In essence, we're stripping the academy down into a more streamlined, but faster-paced program. We're also putting a heavy emphasis on Noir. pilots to connect with the students, even if you're not interested in helping train them.

I'm hopeful that with our new alliance culture that Noir. Academy will find a great home in the alliance, one that wasn't exactly present when we were flying under the Noir. Mercenary Group Alliance.  I'm certainly excited to be there when these guys get to go on their first contract. That's always the highlight for me. Turning good newbs into good mercs, one day at a time.