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Guest_ridgepoinths_*
post Sep 19 2017, 05:23 PM
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Did any coaches receive a flyer from the new company Xathlon which apparently grew out of the now-defunct Decademy and is offering a testing package for students and schools this AcDec season? I'm just curious to hear thoughts from coaches about the flyer if they've seen it.
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Guest_nixonotis_*
post Sep 19 2017, 06:21 PM
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Hey! This is Nick. I sent that email smile.gif

For anyone curious about the reasons behind the "now-defunct Decademy," it basically comes down to the fact that Stephen and I both got full-time jobs working in industry (I explain my part on this page) and couldn't do both at the same time. Long story short, I really really missed the worlds of Decathlon, learning, and education...and I had some time to think about what went well with Decademy and what could have gone better. When it came down to it, I realized that as nice as it was that we provided beautifully put-together curriculum guides (okay, I'm biased), flashcards, and things like that, those weren't things that I wanted to sell. I think most of you will agree that the best "guides," glossaries, and flash cards come from students digging deep into the material, recognizing patterns, and spending time trying to relate concepts to their teammates.

Thus, where I realized I could provide the most value is in the realm of testing. While I'll be the first to admit that Decademy's tests had errors (there's even an old DDT thread where one former user was complaining about that wink.gif ), I received overwhelming feedback that Decademy's tests were the best reflection of what students would see on the official tests (in content, style, and nuance). I knew that nobody had stepped in in the last few years to solve that problem, so I started with that: Xathlon would focus solely on tests. We would focus heavily on quality control and keeping true to the collective thought in the Decathlon community that the best "practice" tests are those that are the most similar to the actual "game," the official rounds of testing. So that's what we've done...

I had some conversations with colleagues in the world of Decathlon, and I initiated some conversations about the state of the Decathlon community. Strictly speaking numbers, the Decathlon community as a whole has dwindled in size, even just over the last few years, which is a travesty. I want people to be excited about Decathlon--it's the closest thing we have to an "intellectual sport" in schools! From that came Xathlon's mission statement: Our mission is to build a thriving, global community of lifelong learners united by the spirit of competition and the pursuit of knowledge that is both deep and broad.

Two key words stand out (to me) in that statement: community and competition. I think that the current world of Decathlon is in silos, with individual schools and districts doing their own thing, staying isolated from the rest of the Decathlon world. In a world where the Internet is where--like it or not--people spend most of their days, this doesn't make sense. This is no fault of any one person..there simply isn't a platform or a push for the community to be more connected. I realized, then, that one of the first steps to make the Decathlon community more connected is to break down the "borders" that disallow students from competing with more than just their local students and teams. So Xathlon's tests are more than just tests, they're competitions, and they're released as such. There's info on the website, but basically, the tests are released once a month, and if you take the tests during a specific window and submit your scores, you can be ranked individually/as a team against all the other individuals and teams that took the tests during the window. Then, everyone who participated will get a link to discuss the tests in an online Facebook community (I'll get some cheers and some jeers from that one, I know, but the fact of the matter is that even if "kids these days" don't always have Facebook accounts, they're even LESS likely to want to sign up for a random online forum, as much as we all might enjoy that tongue.gif ).

So instead of competing 2 or 3 times a year, now students get to compete 7 times in addition the official rounds. I think it will make things more competitive, bring students/coaches together who would have no reason to meet otherwise, and--most importantly--make things more fun.

So that's where we are now, for everyone who didn't get the email, and even for those who did. Xathlon's future includes stuff like a Decathlon-related podcast (I'm envisioning "sportscasting" after our competitions and the official competitions, but have to work out the details as well as interviews with alumni, coaches, State Directors, etc.), increased social media presence (free content/lectures on the material generated by subject matter experts or submitted by users--again, I just don't think it makes sense to "sell" those things in today's world where information is becoming a commodity), and other exciting things.

Anyway, thank you for starting this thread. I'm happy to answer any and all questions, comments, concerns, fan mail, hate mail, etc. I really just want to move Decathlon forward, because I think it is the singular best opportunity for students across a wide variety of backgrounds to learn stuff they never would have the chance to learn otherwise in a fun and exciting way...and this is how I'm starting smile.gif
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TinDefacto
post Sep 19 2017, 06:46 PM
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I just wanna say, I am in love with everything about this. And I am so excited to see how it turns out.

Godspeed you, the best Nixon to ever exist. tongue.gif
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The Evil Dr. Cal...
post Sep 20 2017, 01:23 AM
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Canyon del Oro will be participating, and I hope that other teams will join the fray. smile.gif

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zzzptm
post Sep 20 2017, 03:28 PM
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Man, still no options for former students/coaches to compete in Emeritus rounds...


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Guest_nixonotis_*
post Sep 20 2017, 03:57 PM
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QUOTE (zzzptm @ Sep 20 2017, 08:28 AM) *
Man, still no options for former students/coaches to compete in Emeritus rounds...

Hey, if you wanna sign up, I'll let you take the tests and you can see how you compare with the Decathletes wink.gif
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stanleytree
post Sep 20 2017, 04:24 PM
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I would love to, especially for the early parts of the year. The particular problem we face is that almost all of the weekends already coincide with a meet we are attending (Katy is the week before one and Friendswood is the same week as two). I think if they started earlier and didn't match up with our meets I would certainly do them. I may do some of the later ones- we will need an evaluation post-Christmas break.
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Guest_mrrrg_*
post Sep 20 2017, 05:42 PM
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QUOTE (nixonotis @ Sep 20 2017, 10:57 AM) *
QUOTE (zzzptm @ Sep 20 2017, 08:28 AM) *
Man, still no options for former students/coaches to compete in Emeritus rounds...

Hey, if you wanna sign up, I'll let you take the tests and you can see how you compare with the Decathletes wink.gif


I think that would be one of your best selling points. Imagine a team of AcDec coaches ......maybe even a march-madness competition
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Guest_nixonotis_*
post Sep 20 2017, 11:17 PM
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QUOTE (mrrrg @ Sep 20 2017, 10:42 AM) *
QUOTE (nixonotis @ Sep 20 2017, 10:57 AM) *
QUOTE (zzzptm @ Sep 20 2017, 08:28 AM) *
Man, still no options for former students/coaches to compete in Emeritus rounds...

Hey, if you wanna sign up, I'll let you take the tests and you can see how you compare with the Decathletes wink.gif


I think that would be one of your best selling points. Imagine a team of AcDec coaches ......maybe even a march-madness competition

Not heavily advertising/promoting it because I'm working on the more "conventional" approach to start, but individuals, alumni, and coaches are 100% allowed to participate, provided they email me (I'll make it more seamless in the future). All we have to do is put a disclaimer for noncompetitors...and as far as individuals go, we will just have to come up with a clean way for them to take the tests and send us their answers (or sign up with a proctor) so they can be fairly scored smile.gif

As far as the march madness thing...good thinking. I think there are a lot of fun competitive layers that can go on top of this beyond the competitions, and I'll be exploring as many as possible. I also hope that as time goes on coaches/directors will use the fact that these competition tests exist as a reason to organize in-person events smile.gif
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stanleytree
post Sep 21 2017, 01:09 AM
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You could also do a points system for across-the-year competition. Heck, maybe even a trophy at the end.
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acadecker
post Sep 21 2017, 01:48 AM
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We (Seton Catholic Prep) will be hosting a test-only scrimmage on October 28th using the Xathlon exams. I am in the process of finishing the paperwork at school, and then I will be inviting local schools to come over and participate (it's more fun to take tests together, right?).

I have already told my classes that I will be taking all seven exams, and that if anyone beats me there will be serious gloating repercussions involved. Any other coaches that want to get in on it are more than welcome!
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TinDefacto
post Sep 21 2017, 01:13 PM
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Oh, I would be so down to compete.

If only I had more free time... #donteverbecomeanadult
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zzzptm
post Sep 21 2017, 03:15 PM
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QUOTE (nixonotis @ Sep 20 2017, 10:57 AM) *
QUOTE (zzzptm @ Sep 20 2017, 08:28 AM) *
Man, still no options for former students/coaches to compete in Emeritus rounds...

Hey, if you wanna sign up, I'll let you take the tests and you can see how you compare with the Decathletes wink.gif


Maybe if you made a supar-sekrit individual purchase page and the price was right (like about a tenth of a team price, give or take), I'd consider a nibble.

Of course, I say that now as I still have to face down about 30+ hours of internal training videos. Maybe you should hit me up again once I've actually finished my training and am billing hours to clients and see how much free time I have then. emot-smug.gif


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stanleytree
post Sep 22 2017, 03:16 AM
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I like hanging the fact that none of my kids have outscored me over them...I think competing against them would end that notion.

I think our octathlon team might join in on some of these.
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SamKeal
post Sep 22 2017, 04:48 AM
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I might try and get Sun Prairie to do at least one round, but budget concerns might keep that from being a possibility. Perhaps in the future.
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Guest_nixonotis_*
post Oct 11 2017, 09:15 PM
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I took a break from working on actual work today to make this online order form for individuals at schools without full teams.

For alums and coaches, just email me. Looking forward to seeing some rogue alumni, coaches, and other individuals competing this season wink.gif

This post has been edited by nixonotis: Oct 16 2017, 04:01 PM
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