ALB Instructor's Manual

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ALB Instructor's Manual


Introduction

Welcome to Armstrong Lunar Base... again! You have been asked to be an Instructor here at ALB because you possess strong writing skills as well as a keen manner in handling administrative affairs in ASR; these are no small accomplishments. You are among the best ASR has to offer and the perfect choice to help acclimate new recruits into the unique world of ASR.

You will be the first real, interactive contact the new recruits will have here in ASR; how you interact with your students will have maximum impact on how they perceive the game. It's easy to lose sight of it in the more nitpicky aspects of instructing, but remember that we are promoting the club, and that it's actually FUN. We should strive to make sure everyone enjoys his or her time in ALB, while learning about how ASR operates in the process.


Your Holodeck

ALB is broken up into 20 "holodecks," where you, as the instructor, will conduct the training scenario. This is your "unit" in ALB, and should be treated in a similar fashion to the rest of the units in ASR. This means that you, as the Commanding Officer of this unit, are responsible for the smooth operation of your holodeck.

Running an ALB Holodeck - Mailing List

Like a regular unit, each holodeck operates via email to its member players, posting to the newsgroup, the ASR web archive (and the unit archive, if there is one). As with the ASR RP units, email, posting, and archiving may be done in a way that is feasible and convenient to you.

Posts and NRPG messages may be sent directly to those concerned, with individuals posting to the newsgroup and web archive directly. This requires no work on the part of the instructor, except to let those involved know the email addresses of everyone who needs to get these posts and NRPG messages; and, for those who are not technologically inclined, instructions on how to post to them.

Some instructors, following in the footsteps of some regular units, have established mailing lists run via a free mailing list service, such as Yahoo! Groups (formerly eGroups). These services make setting up mailing lists relatively easy, and many instructors use them to simplify the running of their holodecks.

Whatever method you choose to use, the recipients of the posts and NRPG messages should include the following people and virtual spaces:

  • Instructor (obviously)
  • Students (likewise)
  • COMALB
  • ALB Adjutant
  • Newsgroup: alt.starfleet.rpg
  • Web Archive: starfleet-rpg@yahoogroups.com


Running an ALB Holodeck - Archiving

One of the reasons many instructors use the mailing list services is because of its automatic archiving function. While there is no archiving requirement for your holodeck (or for any ASR RP unit, for that matter), it has proven to be a very useful resource for instructors, students, and admin alike. Instructors can look at other holodecks as well as their own for ideas on scenarios and how to deal with various player issues. Students can look back at past posts, especially if a gremlin causes email loss. Admin and Fleet/unit COs can look at the archives for potential new players that they would like to recruit. Thus, it is the ALB Admin recommendation that archiving be used.


Preparing You for Class

We will not just dump a group of ALBies in your lap before you know what you got yourself into. :) This Guide is only one part of your own training in becoming an ALB Instructor.

Our instructor training programme is currently under review. In the meantime, we ask that you read this Guide thoroughly, and to ask us any questions you may have at any time.


Instructor Training

We hope that your own experience in ALB as a student will guide you in how you conduct your own classes. We will also ask you to observe a class conducted by a more experienced instructor, to see the ALB experience from the instructor's point of view.

Additionally, we will give you copies of the ALB FAQ and the Ensign's Primer, the ASR documents that your students will be relying on, with your guidance, to prepare for ASR play.

Once we all feel comfortable with your taking on a class, we will place you on our roster, and you will be assigned a class when appropriate.


3.2 Instructor Rotation and Class Assignment

The ALB Administration assigns classes in a loose rotation. Those who have not been assigned a class in some time will be more likely to be asked when a batch of recruits comes along. How often will depend on the rate of incoming players and the availability of your fellow instructors. We try not to assign classes to each instructor more than twice a year, but we may ask you more often when others are unavailable or there is an unexpectedly high influx of players.

When a group of players turn up for training, and it is your turn to instruct, we will first contact you to confirm your availability. Once you have indicated that you are available to conduct a class, COMALB or the Adjutant will be sending you the following material for your class.

  • The recruit's ALB Oval Office reporting post. This will provide you with the ensign's address and character name, as well as the real name (although some people do use pseudonyms).
  • COMALB/Adjutant's assignment post (sent to the player and cc'd to you).


Conducting an ALB Class

As an ALB Instructor, there are a few basic but absolutely essential tasks you have... but they can be summarised in one phrase: to teach the writing and storytelling conventions of ASR.

The ASR Armstrong Lunar Base FAQ and the ALB QuickStart Guide are two tools that we hope will help you fulfill your tasks, but they are only tools. How you interact with your students using these documents is far more influential in how these players will enjoy play in an ASR RP unit.


The ALB Guides

The ASR Armstrong Lunar Base FAQ explains how ALB works, how to format a post in ASR, what billet types are available for new players, and other basic information. The ALB QuickStart Guide contains a character creation guide covering basic rules for ASR characters and an annotated sample bio. Together, these documents cover knowledge common to players in ASR.


Communication

Just as we asked you to include certain people and virtual spaces in setting up a mailing list (with or without archiving), please instruct your students to do the same in this important aspect of ASR play. Your students should include the following people and places when posting:

  • Instructor (obviously)
  • Students (likewise)
  • COMALB
  • ALB Adjutant
  • Newsgroup: alt.starfleet.rpg
  • Web Archive: starfleet-rpg@yahoogroups.com

(N.B. The ASR yahoogroup now sends posts automatically to the newsgroup, so posting separately to the newsgroup is not necessary.)

NRPG messages, as with normal ASR practice, should exclude the newsgroup and web archive.

While this may be second nature to you by now, new players often need reminders. Please keep in mind that new player visibility is important for recruiting, both for us and for them.

Once you begin your training session, please send the following information to the COMALB and Adjutant, for their records:

ALB HOLODECK (holodeck number)
==============================
Character          Player          Email Address
-------------------------------------------------

This will help us maintain an accurate instructor rotation schedule.


The Scenario

So what should your students do while they are in the holodeck? Your first posts (if more than one is required) should set up a training scenario for the student characters that allows your instructor character to "evaluate their fitness for duty on starbases, deep space stations, and ships of the line." However, it should not be so time-consuming that the students become impatient with the process.

Concentrated brevity is therefore critical to an ALB scenario. The plot should be able to be completed with three to four posts per player, and give the players the opportunity to demonstrate their writing style and skill acquisition.

Some instructors use the same set up for every class (a warp core breach, rescuing an away team stuck on a planet with a pre-warp society); others like to design something that seems to match with each unique set of students. There are no foolproof scenarios -- what has worked for some may not work for your class. If you are experiencing a dearth of ideas, please ask us or any of your fellow instructors, and we'd be happy to share with you what has worked and what hasn't.


ASR Writing Conventions

As an experienced ASR player, there are many things that may be near-automatic for you, but are new to your students. The most obvious is the post format: what information should be where, in what order.

As a guide to what COs expect new players to be able to do (with little to no guidance on their part), here are the basic points that you will need to pay attention to as you review your players' posts, in the order that they occur in a typical ASR post.

  • Subject line:
    • ALB Holodeck ##: [Title] (for RP posts)
    • ALB Holodeck ## NRPG: [Subject] (for NRPG messages)
  • Star Dates/Mission Dates (when applicable)
  • Third-person past-tense narrative
  • Face-to-face vs. comm system communication indicators: quotation marks vs. brackets
  • Salutation and signature: "Respectfully submitted" (or similar), followed by player name, character rank/name, position, unit, and email address
  • NRPG notes (when applicable)

ASR Storytelling

There are three aspects of writing for ASR that new players should at least begin to grasp (not even the vets have a total mastery of all of them; otherwise, this wouldn't be fun, it would be work!).


Plot advancement

New players should learn that playing the game properly means that they do their part in accomplishing their goals and the goal of the unit's crew (in this case, their classmates). Each player providing his/her own piece to help solve that puzzle advances the plot. Depending on individual style and skill, the plot may advance slowly or quickly, smoothly or jumpily.

There is a fine line between "advancing the plot line" and "monopolizing the plot line." While no initiative should be reprimanded -- new players need to be encouraged to be creative in a supportive environment -- they should also not be allowed to attempt to solve the entire problem on their own and exclude the participation of the other players in the holodeck. A gentle reminder or a suggestion to work with the other players may be useful in curtailing monopolising behaviour.


Character development

Character development is like a plot, except that it involves the inner life of the character. A character (written well and grounded in real thought and feeling) will change over time as he/she reacts to the events around him/her (i.e., the plot).

Some ASR RP units accommodate more or less character development than others. In ALB, character development should be encouraged, as this may help in fleshing out the character's bio (see below). The CD-prone player should be encouraged, however, to contribute actively to the scenario's plotline as well, as this skill is also essential to ASR play.


Interaction with other players

This is perhaps the most important aspect of ASR play. Players need to learn (through absorption or direct instruction) that one of the most important and gratifying aspects of writing in the ASR environment is its interactive nature. New players should at least be aware of the necessity of taking turns and sharing the plotline, of respecting the other players in the characterization of their creations, and generally of interacting with fellow writers with respect and honesty. Setting a good example by your own conduct will go a long way toward establishing this expectation.


The Biofile

The most tangible product of a new player's stay in ALB is the character biofile. Many of the new recruits will have a biofile generated by the on-line bio form. The form already provides for the basic information categories to be included:

  • Personal Data
  • Educational Background
  • Biographical Notes
  • Official Star Fleet Record
  • Skills Profile
  • Recent Fitness Report
  • Psychological Profile
  • Current Recreational Interests
  • Miscellaneous Information

Many players will require guidance in enhancing the last five categories (Skills Profile, Recent Fitness Report, Psychological Profile, Current Recreational Interests, Miscellaneous Information). Players should be encouraged to flesh out and detail their characters' qualities as they go through ALB, since this will help other players portray their characters accurately.


Class Duration

The time spent at ALB by new recruits is going to vary from holodeck to holodeck, and is dependent both on the instructor and the recruits. While it is important to train new players properly, it is vital that ALB's holodecks orient players as efficiently as possible -- after all, the purpose of ALB is to orient new players so that they can join regular RP units that are constantly looking for new players.

As does any unit CO, the instructor needs to monitor posting levels and player participation. New players can over-post out of eagerness or under-post out of shyness or fear that they are doing something wrong. Some instructors select a player to begin the exercise, then allow the players to work out a posting system themselves, asking only that the last person posting allow at least one other person to post before he or she posts again.

Should the posting slow down significantly or stop altogether, contact players to see where the problem is, and remind them that while RL does take precedence, a note (even just one line) explaining the delay would be appreciated by everyone. This is a habit that every unit CO and player welcomes.

There are no arbitrary time limits or minimum number of posts required for a complete ALB class. The "four weeks, each player posting three to four times" are only baseline figures and will vary with each set of students. If it takes a little longer for your students to grasp the basics of writing for ASR and to develop a biofile for a playable character, then that is how long it takes. Please use your judgment and discretion. If only one player out of your class is having problems, it is well within standard operating procedure to send the player back to the Oval Office for reassignment and additional instruction.


Recruiting Responsibly

While you have a relatively free hand in running your holodeck as long as you produce players ready for assignment to an ASR RP unit, there is one thing that is strictly forbidden, for reasons of conflict of interests.

You may NOT solicit directly any of your students to join your unit(s). If you are a unit CO, all requests for personnel from ALB are to be sent to your Fleet commanders, who in turn forward them to the CSFO. If you are not a CO but see a player that you think would be a good fit on one of your units, send this suggestion to your unit CO.

Most new players will not be aware of these possible complications. If recruits inquire as to openings on your unit, or any other unit by name, forward their inquiries to the CSFO with a note to the player of your action, referring future inquiries regarding specific units to her.


Graduation

Once you feel that your students are ready for ASR play, graduate them and send them to the CSFO for assignment. Some instructors simply end the scenario in RP and send them to the CSFO without much else; others do a nice pomp-and-circumstance post and send them off with a fanfare. Please use your discretion and preference in this respect. This graduation post should be sent to the CSFO in addition to your class, so that she knows to expect new players for assignment.

Please instruct your students to send the following to the CSFO:

  • Player Name and Email Address
  • Character Name
  • Character Bio
  • Sample of Best ALB Post (player's choice)
  • Billet Types desired (minimum 3)
  • Ship/Mission Types desired (minimum 3)
  • Any other relevant questions/comments

For Billet/Ship Types, please emphasize that they cannot request specific units, as it would be difficult for the CSFO to accommodate them.

You, as instructor, have the following to send to the CSFO:

  • Comments on students in separate NRPG: Anything the instructor can say will help. The following are some things that have been covered in the past, in varying degrees of detail.
  • posting speed
  • post lengths
  • writing mechanics (grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.)
  • preferred writing style (action-oriented, character-oriented, etc.)
  • story/plot mechanics (plausible storylines, plotting tempo, etc.)
  • characterization (of both own character and partners')
  • ability to play/write cooperatively with others
  • anything which may require special accommodation (i.e., non-native English, uncooperative attitude, previous RP experience elsewhere, wanting to join friends/acquaintances, etc.)
  • anything else the Instructor may want to point out

Suggestions/Comments

1) Remember to have fun yourself; it will represent our best side to the beginners. How much involvement you have in writing with them is also up to you.

2) Be sure to communicate with the students promptly. The standard ASR maximum turnaround time of 72 hours applies, but a shorter turnaround time (24-48 hours) is preferred.

4) Keep your sense of humor intact. Some of the students will make mistakes the first few times. Be gentle, but get them to do it right.

5) Please keep in mind that ASR is an international organization with many different cultures being represented when creating your holodeck. Be careful not to create culture-specific scenarios that others may not be familiar with or become offended at. You may want to keep the scenarios "typical" to what they would face in ASR.

Pertinent E-mail Addresses

  • CSFO: Scott Lusby<csfo@alt-starfleet-rpg.org>
  • COMALB: Chris Mayberry <comalb@alt-starfleet-rpg.org> ^
  • ALB Adjutant/Acting COMALB: JP Balzen <albadj@alt-starfleet-rpg.org>
  • Personnel Officers: Jamal Green, Sean Murphy, Eric Boyum <join@alt-starfleet-rpg.org>

^- On extedned Leave of Absence due to military service.

Closing

ALB and its Instructors are important to ASR. We hope that this guide assists you in helping prepare your students for the ASR experience. Any comments on this guide can and should be directed to either the COMALB or the Adjutant.


Document history

Ver  Date              Author/Adaptor
                       - Changes
---  ----------------- ---------------------------------------------
(Much of this document was based on the first "Instructor's Guide,"
written by Christine Fontaine.  The first "Instructor's Guide" was
based on a similar document written by Rosina Bignall in 1995.)

2.17              2000 Scott Lusby
                       - created this guide
3.0               2002 Margaret Kipp
                       - updates to guide, URLs, addresses
4.0        24 May 2002 Takako Nagumo
                       - major editing and rewriting
4.1        31 May 2002 Masako Goto
                       - minor editing
4.2        20 Dec 2002 Lars Duening
                       - updates to addresses
4.3        30 Nov 2003 Lars Duening
                       - updates to addresses
5.0        20 May 2006 Scott Lusby
                       - updates to addresses and formatting