Welcome! This forum has a treasure trove of great info – Scouters helping Scouters! Just a heads up, though - all content, information, and opinions shared on this forum are those of the author, not the BSA.
I began helping our scouts develop personal advancement plans and providing them with progress reports. However, I found Scoutbook to be lacking in this area.
There does not seem to be anywhere for scouts to set goals such as earning a certain number of merit badges by some date or set dates for when they would like to earn various ranks. Also the Individual Advancement Record is not very useful because it shows a cumulative record of a scout’s achievements rather than a snapshot of recent achievements. As a result it is difficult to tell at a glance if a scout is progressing or stagnating.
I ended up developing my own tools, exporting Scoutbook data, and then importing it into my tool. However, I think this is something that not only could Scoutbook do, but probably SHOULD do. Allowing the scouts to set their goals online then it is there for their parents and unit leaders to see. The scout, their parents, and leaders could generate a progress report at any time and then compare the scout’s progress to their plan to see if they need to make any changes to their efforts or their plan. Ideally this would also include charts or graphics to make it easy to see progress at a glance.
Here is an example of the progress reports that I presently generate. I save as PDF and hand out the scouts. It lacks the scout’s advancement plan (which they fill out by hand) but they can easily compare the two sheets. If this were handled by Scoutbook, the chart could have one line showing the scout’s plan and another line showing their actual progress. I would also like another chart showing merit badge completions (both Eagle required and elective). I have yet to add that to my progress reports.
I only looked at report builder briefly. Unless I totally overlooked something, it also appears to just show a scouts cumulative progress. Would like something where I can enter a date and it can show all progress made since that date. That way scouts can see what progress they have made since the last COH, sine the beginning of the year, or some other arbitrary date. It is also buried in a location that most scouts/parents are unlike to find (assuming they have access to it).
What I am looking for is a page that will walk them through creating an advancement plan (dates with the rank and/or merit badges that they would like to earn by that date). Then as the advancement chair enters data, the scouts can go in and view their accomplishments and compare them against their plan, complete with easy to understand charts rather than large tables or walls of text.
I envision something like the website of a retirement account. I can log in and see a chart that shows my savings at a glance. I can also enter things like my planned retirement date and how much I intend to spend and then the website tells me if I am on schedule or not.
Most scouts I have encountered know their present rank, and the requirements they need to get to the next rank, but they have no idea on how to do any sort of long term planning and how to backdate goals so that they can earn their Eagle before they turn 18. What I am asking for is a tool to allow scouts to take an active role in their advancement planning, if they choose to do so. It is not mandatory so I see nothing bureaucratic about it.
In my experience, scouts with active parents tend to stay on schedule, while other scouts lag behind unless encouraged by troop leadership. This tells me that parent and leaders are more involved in a scout’s advancement than they should be. Let’s give the scouts the tools they need to be self sufficient.
From my years in Scouting - Scouts do become self-sufficient when and IF they want to. Either by figuring it out or seeking help. The Force feed method does not work, and reduces scout retention. A simple Scoutmaster conference can deal with all of this.
I agree, but right now scouts do not have an adequate tool to do the planning themselves. Its not about force feeding them anything, it is about giving them tools they need to do the job.
It is also about motivating the scouts. Scouts that are able to see progress get motivated, that is why we recognize their accomplishments in a timely manner. Scouts that come home from summer camp after earning some badges could log on and see how those impact their plan and could inspire them to keep up the effort.
It seems like there would be significant development effort involved in creating what is, effectively, a custom report and planning tool. It’s not clear how many scouts (out of the entire scouting population) would actually use that tool. It’s also a lot more complex than it looks like from the surface. Consider some MB requirements that have a minimum time frame involved (e.g. Family Life). Every time a requirement for rank or a MB was revised, the report would need to be updated to reflect any change that revision had on a time-frame, which would then have to go into the “timeline”. This is a lot more like a critical-path-management software task than something that is easily programmed and maintained.
I tend to agree that giving the scouts the tools to work things like this out is best (i.e. better than telling them what to do). I also tend to think this is best handled in a scoutmaster conference context, where the scoutmaster or their designee can talk to the scouts about what their goals are, ask how they think they are progressing towards those goals, and how/if they have a specific plan for pursuing those goals. Walk them through how one or more methods they could use to plan and track their own progress. Show them how to stay on top of changes to the advancement requirements (rank and MBs) so they develop a concept of the sorts of tracking tasks that they might need in the future.
Talking the scout through the process of goal-setting and planning seems like it would be more useful than another canned advancement report/planning tool. They might not have advancement as a primary goal. If not, what is their goal in scouting? How can the unit best help them achieve that goal? Why is advancement not a (primary) goal for them? It just seems so much more nuanced than something like a canned report can address. What about the flip side (e.g. a scout who doesn’t have advancement as a primary goal)? Would an automated report that says they are “behind” help that scout more than it harms them?
At the end of the day, it’s down to whether you can sell SUAC or one of your council staff on the idea of creating such a report/tool, and whether or not they can, in turn, sell the BSA national folks on prioritizing it. The rest of us can share an opinion, but it’s not necessarily going to move the implementation ball at all.
The intent of this forum is to request Scoutbook features so those they might be considered. I understand the feature may not be for everyone, but if you don’t think it will be beneficial then don’t use it if gets implemented. Save the discussion for providing constructive criticism to help refine the idea instead of making comments aimed towards minimizing its importance. A scout is helpful and kind. Yes, advancement is only one of eight methods, but it is the method for which Scoutbook was intended to aid.