Add a way to allow scouts to attach word documents, pdfs, etc in merit badge notepad

It would be great if scoutbook allowed scouts to upload other types of files besides photo and video files into the: my notepad & comments section because scouts could share completed workbooks and the like with their counselor more easily.

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@scouter11 - merit badge and rank workbooks are not required nor are they BSA official or recognized. Additionally anyone requiring them is adding to requirements and is working against the guide to advancement.

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When I am working with a Scout on a MB, unless the requirement says draw, write or something similar, I don’t want to see the workbook. The Scout can use the workbook to remind them of items when discussing the MB with me, but I don’t read the notes they took. When the requirement says discuss, I want them to verbally convey the information to me.

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@edavignon - agreed… the workbooks can help get things organized but not the sole source for completion.

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This is the way. Merit Badge workbooks are bad. Scouting is academic enough. Adding workbooks and merit badge “classes” are just like school. Scouts get enough school at school. They need counseling and discussions with adults who have time to work with them. This meets one of the goals of Scouting. It also allows Scouts who are less academic get as much out of Scouting as those who are good at filling out workbooks.

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@Matt.Johnson @edavignon @Stephen_Hornak

I do not require scouts to use the workbooks, but there are some scouts who prefer to use for the non-demonstrate type of requirements (list, write, explain, etc…) so I still think this would be a helpful feature for these scouts especially if we as leaders are unable to meet in person with scouts for a discussion.

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@scouter11 - ok. But in the end we are talking about spinning up document storage which on an enterprise scale will be expensive. I do not anticipate this moving forward.

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Have them send them to you via the messaging system in Scoutbook if needed. or by email and copy their parent. Your only going to look at it for a short period, they really don’t need to be in permanent storage.

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I can’t see how document storage can be worse than photo or video storage already in place. While the comments on worksheets is valid, I would like to see more than just the fabled worksheet. For example, when Scouts are logging monthly exercise time for rank awards, I ask them to provide it to me in a spreadsheet (if they can). I’ll take it in any format… written down on a napkin if need be, but organization of information in rows and columns in a spreadsheet is the best and preferred method. It is consistent with what they should be learning in school. I would like to be able to post these things, or reports on an outing and how they use photos to show how much material they used vs. the next outing where they cut down on their waste. I would like for my other Scoutmasters to be able to see this information in Scoutbook when THEY are working with the Scout as well as what they may have handed to them or me physically. In my opinion the requirement is valid.

@danielmarquis - this would give you a rough idea of costs involved in document management

So as it has been noted on many occasions it is doubtful that the BSA will get into enterprise document storage for users and units.

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I believe the request from @scouter11 was for Scoutbook to allow scouts to upload a wider variety of files into the comments or notepad section. I will offer a possible solution, and not debate about the PDF workbooks because it is not the main focus of this thread.

My one suggestion is to have scouts use Google Drive. You can use Google Drive to store Google Docs (word-processing), Google Slide (slideshow), PDFs, videos, photos, etc. When the file is in the scout’s drive, they can share it with specific people or with anyone with the link (Learn more about sharing in Google Drive)

When the scout sets the sharing permission to “anyone with the link can view,” they can copy the shareable link and post it in the notepad section in Scoutbook. This is a helpful so that if you lose the item in your electronic mailbox, there is a link in the scout’s advancement records.

The drawbacks of using Google Drive (or any other Cloud storage service)

  • Age requirement (some services require scouts to be 13 years or older, and have parent consent)
  • Limited storage

This is a workaround solution until Scoutbook gets an update to accept a border range of files. Hope this helps!

This age restriction is related to federal law and rules, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

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Another drawback with Google drive is that many employers block access to them (for those who do a little scouting on their lunch breaks)

I agree that more file types than photos and video should be allowed. In our case, we live overseas and during the summer our kids attend camp in the US. The camps provide a sign-off sheet for each MB. We would like the capability to upload those sheets of paper into the specific MB section in Scoutbook. This provides documentation for MB completion as the camp counselors don’t work in Scoutbook.

For us it’s not about workbooks. It’s MB completion sheets from summer camp.

At the risk of playing devil’s advocate, is there a reason that a photo/image scan of the sheet couldn’t be uploaded? I’ve done that for some of our scouts when relevant.

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I’m still a little confused by the need. The purpose of Scoutbook is to log Advancement. Once a merit badge is signed off, there’s really no going back. Storing proof of individual requirement completion, in perpetuity, doesn’t seem to serve much purpose. And I’m sure this is a big reason why there is so much pushback from the development team against document storage (in addition to the cost).

That said, I can understand that some would like to use Scoutbook like a social/collaborative network, where the docs are shared to be reviewed - especially by younger generations for whom email is anathema.

But as others have said, there are a lot of other solutions out there, the easiest of which is paper passed around at scout meetings. Not everything has to be digital :wink: And I think scouts would benefit from actual conversations with leaders/counselors as they go through the process, rather than relying on technical tools to do the job for them.

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I just realized, after reading @CharleyHamilton’s comment, that Scoutbook apparently allows photos. (I haven’t used it much as an MBC.) So I can also see why this is an issue… the system allows some back-and-forth with a counselor for comments and pictures, but not pdfs, docs or xls files, which might be just as helpful. Hence the common request.

So one could argue that Scoutbook should a) support a wider variety of doc types, to facilitate scout-counselor communication, or b) support none of them - pushing those conversations and docs elsewhere.

The larger question is, how much scouting do we want to do in our IT system?

Admittedly one of the purposes of the MB program is to introduce scouts to careers. Nothing like learning the limits of IT early :wink:

Am I too pessimistic in concluding that of these two options, the most likely is (b) “Make it someone else’s cloud storage problem?”

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This is a great question. More and more dependence makes it more and more like an office job vs adventure.

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