Community Spotlight: EVE University
Recently the EVE Community Team began running a series of seminars to help teach new players about the game. But we were not the first people to take on this task, nor are we even the best. Several groups of players have taken it upon themselves over the years to help rookies learn about the intricacies of EVE, get their pods cracked, and make EVE Online their new home. One of the oldest and most respected organizations is EVE University. Over the years, thousands have come through their ranks and their influence can felt throughout the game.
EVE University was founded on March 15, 2004 by Morning Maniac as a way to help teach new players about EVE. He wanted to create a place where people could help each other in a game that had a challenging learning curve. The greater EVE Community has always been supportive, but like any other group it has always had detractors.
Over the years, they have continued to evolve to better serve new players. They've gone from high sec to 0.0 and back to high sec. They've moved HQs. They've added additional services that serve the entire community, such as their wiki. Their classes have changed and they continue to add specialized programs to introduce people to different areas of EVE. They currently have groups operating in high sec, low sec, 0.0, and wormholes so that players can experience the basics of every sort of space in EVE. They've also recently begun holding the majority of their classes on a public Mumble server, so anyone can log in and participate.
EVE University is entirely run by volunteers with no one receiving any pay or compensation. Staff have exactly the same access to ISK or items as any player in the corporation. There is a CEO with 7 directors who oversee a specific aspect of operations with several managers beneath them.
It is impossible to determine how many total staff the university has. If you only look at people with specific titles, such as recruitment officers or official teachers, it would be well over 100. If counting players who help one another, then everyone can be staff. Any player can teach a class, run an event, or be a resource. While someone 3 months in will not know all of EVE, they likely have learned enough about one segment of EVE to help someone with no experience get started. The entire corporation is based upon players helping each other, with official leadership being there to set direction and provide a foundation.
The biggest difficulty is finding volunteers to help new players. They always need more teachers to come and share some aspect of EVE. While many alumni come back Luckily the University has made some connections with other corporations, where their players will come in to teach a class or lead a fleet, which is a great chance for new players to be exposed to different aspects of the community. For example, Shadoo from Pandemic Legion approached the University to FC a few fleets. Those fleets wound up being some of the most popular they'd ever had and the attendees learned a massive amount of information.
The University has a large number of schedule classes which can be found on their official calendar. When the University has a specific need, either through student feedback or management observation, the teaching department is asked to focus on a specific area. Since all classes are taught by volunteers, a lot of the class topics are picked by the teachers themselves. They choose what topics they feel are in need or what they would like to teach. Different campuses will run classes that compliment their focus, as will teachers.
One of EVE University's most useful resources is its wiki. It is used to document as much as possible for new players before they jump into things. It is a distributed effort, with several people who volunteer to oversee it. Of course, the workload is far too much for just a few, and the bulk of quality assurance is done by membership or alumni. If someone sees something wrong, they will step up and fix it themselves. If they lack the expertise or time, then posting it on EVE University's forums will bring it to the attention of someone to fix it.
As with many other aspects of the University, it depends on volunteers who are willing to give back to new players.
As with any high profile organization, EVE University can be the target of other players. In the event of war decs, the University runs intel to keep players advised of war target locations, run fleets to fight war targets, and let new players enjoy some high sec fighting. They use it as an opportunity to teach rookies about the risks and rewards in EVE and give them tools to prepare themselves to survive, or at least mitigate risk, in these situations. When education and intel don't work, they work to support them financially to overcome minor setbacks. They offer free ships and skillbooks so that some losses don't wipe them out and they can continue playing.
They also hope new players will be encouraged to see losses not as a bad thing, but as part of the game. For some new players, the loss of a ship in a highly lopsided engagement is such a discouragement that they want to quit. But EVE University helps them cope with such losses and understand those aspects of EVE.
EVE University has been trying to provide assistance to players for almost ten years and they look forward to doing it until the EVE servers die. However, they always need help from the rest of the EVE community. The University is almost entirely funded by donations. They have nearly no corp tax, their POCO fees are purposefully low and contribute only a small percentage of the University's operating budget. They use donations from other players to fund free skillbooks, small 1 ships, and modules, partial reimbursement of select T2 ships, all infrastructure investments, a subsidized implant and freighter program, and to generate prizes for in-corp events of contests.
They get feedback from some players every day. If someone feels the University doesn't teach a topic well enough, they can write an EVEmail and lead a fleet, run a class, or run an event themselves. They are open to anyone coming in to teach students. Players who are interested can contact Azmodeus Valar, Neville Smit, or Bairfhionn Isu.