BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA

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Where did "Leader Training" go?

Bouncing around from one site to another is jarring and confusing to both new leaders/parents as well as grizzled scouter veterans. It’s hard enough to get new parents to volunteer, but then get them frustrated enough where they rethink volunteering if just doing the simplest tasks is a pain.

The way Scoutbook handled the training before was pretty clever and very easy to use. It gave us exactly what we wanted. We could see who was trained for what position because in reality people have to take multiple positions.
It was nice to:

  • Track leaders whether they were new and not in the BSA’s database yet as a leader.
  • Track leaders who have to wear multiple hats.
  • We can ignore leaders who are no longer with the pack who still show up in my.scouting.org

Now as others have stated it’s a real hassle and makes tracking training difficult.

As a software engineer who has been in the business a while I find a lot of these changes unnecessary and terrible user experiences.

If money or manpower is an issue, why not open up development and support to volunteers using an open source model? I know for a fact there’s a lot of software engineers involved in scouting who can find the time to assist in development/QA/support.

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@JameyDecker - just a thought though on new leaders and where they have to go for the training modules is it scoutbook or my.scouting… ? As Ed has noted and I had several times that the defacto training source has been my.scouting and all that scoutbook did was scrape data from the source based on course numbers placed in a table. So do you update that data twice or once. Flat file on scoutbook or the dynamic data in my.scouting…

Yes, they have to go to my.scouting. For their training. Not to just do random scout/den/pack maintenance. They shouldn’t have to worry about two different sites. If the powers that be are married to myscouting.org for everyone, make part of my.scouting look like scoutbook for training and no one would be the wiser. New leaders/parents have enough going on to freak them out. Why not make their experience as pain free as possible?

User experience is everything.

Again, I know it’s my.scouting. That site is not always user or mobile friendly. And the app is buggy. Even when I first tried to post my original message on this site, the page locked up on me. (in fact I see JS errors in the console right now).

Ever thought about opening up API calls to my.scouting from SB? it’s a pretty easy thing to do. I thought that’s what was being done already, maybe I’m mistaken. You can easily keep info in one source and allow SB to show only the relevant data that makes leader’s lives easier.

Written above someone said money is an issue. If manpower or money is an issue, why isn’t the BSA using volunteers? That would help in two ways.

  1. Free labor from experienced engineers. Get faster development and turn around time on support issues. Many universities use the open source model and it works wonders and saves money.
  2. Many companies will match volunteer hours and give money to units.
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I’ve been using Scoutbook for years and really miss having the one stop shop of scoutbook to do advancement and training. Additionally, for each member I could post notes and import pictures of certificates within scoutbook. The new format simply “sucks” and is a through-back to the 1990’s. Since you’re on the user advisory council Ed, please add my displeasure to the list of many that would rather see the training revert back to being listed with scoutbook. The change may have happened pre summer, but I’m noticing now because rechartering is starting up. This is a huge mess now.

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Eric,

The BSA will not be moving training back into Scoutbook. The BSA does not have the resources (dollars) to duplicate the effort to maintain training reports in two locations. Since not all units use Scoutbook, the decision was made to have Scoutbook use the training reports from my.scouting.org.

Hi, @edavignon,

Do you know if there has been any consideration on the developer/owner side regarding more user-friendly interfaces via my.scouting? It sounds from many comments like the issue of where the data lives is secondary to how it’s displayed, which is the most common user-side beef with database queries (besides “Why can’t I see…with my permissions?”) around my office.

As a user, if I’m in Scoutbook and I click a button that says “Leader Training” and it pops up the UI I’m expecting, I don’t see any reason I would care that it’s hosted at my.scouting in the same way as the reports we can currently see via My.Scouting Training Manager or Trained Leader Status.

I suspect that, if the BSA was willing to generate an interface that looked more like the old training status report from Scoutbook and less like the current Trained Leader Status report at my.scouting, these types of requests would go away.

At the unit level, there is a lot of extraneous data displayed that makes it more difficult to wade through the information to determine what each leader needs to complete to become Trained. For example, a typical unit leader checking their leaders’ training status does not need to see the following columns in the report:

  1. Council
  2. Sevice Area
  3. District
  4. Sub-District
  5. Unit
  6. Gender Accepted
  7. Chartered Org Name
  8. Program

At the same time, seeing the laundry list of training codes is fine for someone at the council/district level trying to chase global trends, but for a user trying to figure out what training his or her leaders need to take, the codes make it difficult to sort out what training needs taking, since the training codes themselves don’t show up in the names of the training at BSA Learn Center.

Admittedly, if someone selects the full training program form his or her my.scouting account, and then just chugs through until everything appears done, then they’re going to tick all of the boxes. That said, the more obfuscated the interface, the less likely adult leaders are to know what they need to do. If it’s a lot of work for the devs at BSA to maintain a list of what training codes associate with what training video title, and count for what position, how much more difficult is it for every unit trainer to keep track of it.

Admittedly, what I’m talking about isn’t a Scoutbook feature request, per se. However, if you know that the BSA already rejected the idea of enhancing the UI at my.scouting, there’s not a lot of mileage in trying to drive change there, either. If they haven’t already said no, then the focus of the conversation can change from “Let’s bring training reports back to Scoutbook” to “Let’s define the feature set that we as volunteers need so that the BSA can determine whether or not to support that feature set at my.scouting.”, and then passing that list of requested features along to the folks at myscouting@scouting.org.

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The units that did use scoutbook can no longer use those features in the new system. Scoutbook allowed the unit admins to track training and make adjustments (for example, out of council training, training that’s required out of the BSA program (Wilderness First Aid, CPR, etc)) When the BSA purchased scoutbook we were told that scoutbook would become the new master DB for all advancement and training, so we moved there. Moving training into my.scouting.org was a big mistake from my POV since my.scouting.org is constantly down or only partially working and the interface is confusing and hard to navigate. Regardless, add my voice to the chorus that would prefer training to be moved back to scoutbook (forums as well, but that’s a different topic). If it’s a resource issue I would prefer dollars be spent on scoutbook instead of my.scouting. At the very least, allow us to use the training interface that was in scoutbook and manually import training from my.scouting. I wish the BSA would have never purchased scoutbook at this point.

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We have asked for better reporting but with most requests, all we know is that it is in the backlog.

No worries, @edavignon.

I think that the key long-term is going to be getting the word to BSA about what features we as users (at unit, district, council, area,… levels) need to do what tasks and why the UI doesn’t currently match that feature set. Then BSA can decide what features to implement, if any, and let the scrum work out how to do it from there.

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Eric,

Scoutbook never updated official training records. All training lists in Scoutbook were always unofficial. Updating a course in Scoutbook did not push the course to the official training record in my.scouting.org.

As I have said multiple times, training was imported into Scoutbook via a screen scrape. Every time the BSA training group added a new course or changed requirements, Scoutbook developers had to fix the import, reports and DB. This was very time consuming and took their focus away from other Scoutbook changes. Since the BSA does not have an unlimited budget for software development they decided to leverage what is already in my.scouting.org.

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Hi Charley,

I like using the “Search Training” feature. Select any adult leader(s) who do not have the Trained leader icon, then click on “Print Member Training Report”. The report lists Training Incomplete (by course name) and Training Complete, and each adult leader is listed separately, which makes it easy to print out or e-mail.

Thanks for engaging in this dicussion, I hope you don’t see my replies as personal in any way. As a user, when updating training in scoutbook, I did not care if the training in scoutbook was updating official records since I was able to make notations and upload pictures of signed training cards. And once again, I could track training that is BSA required but not in the BSA system. At the end of the day, it’s up to me as the Scoutmaster to ensure that everyone has the training before we go on a specific type of outting, not to make sure national’s records are up to day. It’s impossible for me to update national records. Basically, this decision is forcing me back to tracking training in excel or the like. And forgive my ignorance, but it’s hard for me to fathom that training requirements updated so frequently as to actually cause a resource or financial restriction in keeping a training section active in scoutbook. If that’s truly the case, perhaps we should provide an api for my.scouting then open source scoutbook and let programing MB scouts work on it.

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As a Scoutmaster you can update the training record for any leader (except yourself) in your unit by going to Training Manager in my.scouting.org.

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@EricBermender - I have added training to leaders on a number of occasions so it is not impossible. There are a good selection of the training classes in there including woodbadge, wilderness first aid, etc.

I think that the biggest obstacle is the fact that most folks aren’t aware of what the tools allow them to do, nor how to do it even if they know it can be done. Most people aren’t comfortable just experimenting with things for fear of breaking something.

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I had to RTM as I didn’t realize there was an icon I could click in order to add training from the Training Manager. It looks like this gives me the functionality to add the trainings I need, although all the trainings I had added within scoutbook are not there.

Thank you for pointing this out!

Perhaps a message in scoutbook, or an option to edit training that takes you t the training manager page, would help leaders to understand that one can add training in myscouting.org as well instead of just view it, which is what I thought was happening.

@EricBermender - selecting other in the program instead scouts bsa gives more options.

@edavignon
Why screens scraping? That is insanely inefficient given that all that’s being done is connecting one BSA system to another.

I guess I have to come out and ask is who is doing the development for all of this stuff? who is making the sort of system architecture decisions?

I asked before about taking volunteers because there’s a lot of people myself included who know about this sort of stuff and would do it for free.

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@JameyDecker - we need to go back to the beginning of scoutbook. It was written by a scout leader and as such direct access to BSA databases was not possible. So the process involved using the unit IA login to run a script to grab the training validation screens. That was how it was when I started using it some 5 years ago. Likewise advancement involved the IA upload file. The process of working away from that original code needs to be done in stages. Separating from that process was part of it. Now it is a link to the actual training source.

I don’t want to knock anyone but the linking to the training source was a bad call. It could hav been easily fixed and streamlined (on the backend) without having to physically go to my.scouting.

I ask again, who is doing the development? Contractors? Professional staff? Volunteers?

Who is making these decisions?

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