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KenD500

Scoutbook

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BSA acquired Scoutbook almost a year & a half ago.  How many of your Troops are using it?  Do you like/dislike it?  Do you recommend it?

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My ASM uses it all the time.  I don't, this is why I have an ASM to do the paperwork.  :)

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The troop already invested in Troopmaster. Post merger, the age distribution is skewed toward younger scouts, many of whom don't come with devices. So BSHB with occasional backup to TM remains the mode of operation.

 

There seemed to be no features of value to the Crew. So nothing there.

 

The "killer app" for me would be a youth-accessed tour planning tool.

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I personally don't know anything about Scoutbook. We use TroopMaster and have since before I joined this troop. It's OK, but it does have some quirks that we have to develop our process around.

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Our Pack started with Scoutbook about three years ago, and it seem to work well for them.  However our Troop had been on TroopWebHost for a while before that, and we are sticking with it for now.  Both have their quirks but TroopWebHost does seem a lot more "customizable".

 

I wish I had a clear picture on how Scoutbook is factoring in to the new BSA IT plan--I *think* the plan is that it will eventually replace Internet Advancement, and be the primary way to record everything--but at that point does every unit need to purchase a Scoutbook subscription?  Or will there be non-subscription access for units that want to use it for advancement reporting, but not necessarily for other unit-management features (scheduling, communication, etc.)

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We use it combined with other tools.  

 

Recommend

  • Great for viewing actual BSA advancement records.  Gives parents an exact view of what BSA ScoutNET has.  We sync every month or so.  
  • Great for the advancement report.  Use that all the time to evaluate merit badges and rank progress.  
  • Nice summary of training records too.

On the fence

  • "Our troop" doesn't use it for detailed advancement as that's in the scout's paper book.  We just don't care to double record and we don't care to record at that level.  "Our troops" view is it's busy work to record the lower level requirements and it's the scout's job to keep their book and drive the details of advancement.  

Not recommended

  • Calendar - Not usable.  Missing features.  Doesn't scale beyond five or so events.  Collapses when you try to add troop meetings, activities, monthly camp outs, service projects, eagle projects, special holidays, etc.  
  • Communication - Email sending tools require you to be in-the-site.  No way to send email from your own email to automated list members.
  • Event management - Not usable.  Existing features miss the use case of how it's used in the field.
  • Roster - Clunky to update information.  
  • User interface - Looks nice but slow for repeated data entry.  
  • Reporting - Lacks concise reports for all things except the individual advancement report.  That report alone makes the system worthwhile to have.  The lack of the other concise reports prevents ScoutBook from being a solution.  
    • No printable calendar.  
    • No printable roster.  
    • No printable event summary.  
    • No printable individual histories for camping and service.  

 

Summary

 

ScoutBook targets individual advancement and misses most of the key features needed to run a unit.

  • Upvote 3

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The "killer app" for me would be a youth-accessed tour planning tool.

 

Feel free to send me what that looks like in a PM or start a thread.   What questions would you want answered, etc.   

  • Upvote 1

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We used to use Troopmaster (which was great for achievement tracking) but switched to TroopTrack a couple years ago (which is not as good at achievement tracking but much better at communication). A number of other Troops in area also use TroopTrack. Some of the boys organize activities through TroopTrack so I guess that is a good thing. I doubt anyone would be interested in using another application. 

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My Troop doesnt use SB, or any other site/program.  Scouts are responsible for their own in-progress advancement via their BSHB.  The advancement person records to Internet Advancement as appropriate.  Communication about events etc is via SPL / PLs, announcements at meetings, troop FB page.  

 

I tried it shortly after the BSA purchase.  At that time (and by all accounts reading the forums since) SB just does not do (or does not do well enough) the few things that the adult leaders wish for.  We have not had any requests from Scouts for other tools (and as far as we know none of them is using other tools on their own).

 

The things that the adults would like are all reports for information that is already "in the system".  i.e A list of all advancement earned since a given date (COH report) and anything that lets us monitor our status toward JTE goals.

Edited by jjlash
  • Upvote 1

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I use it for advacement tracking in my troop.  I've also used it as a merit badge counselor for scouts in other units.

 

I find it to be a grat tool for advancement tracking.  Most things are written into the scout's book first, then every so often I look at the scout's book and record the information into scoutbook.com

 

There are some occasions when something gets done as a group or something that I know about that gets entered in scoutbook.com first, it gets to the book eventually.

 

It gets really handy at court of honor time. 

 

A couple of our scouts access their own records.  I think the future will be that physical sign offs will go away, and everything will be done via the .com platform.

 

As an MB counselor, I've signed off on the digital blue card at the same time as the physical one. 

 

In all cases, the scouts, parents, and leaders all like having the digital backup copy should something get lost or destroyed.  It happens, and I've painstakingly worked to help a scout re-construct partial blue cards or a that one page with the first class requirements on it that fell out of his book due to over use, it isn't fun, for me, or the scout.

 

A couple of the parents really like being able to check up on their son's advancement.  I'm not sure how I feel about this, but, it does keep things transparent.

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I think the future will be that physical sign offs will go away, and everything will be done via the .com platform.

 

Maybe.  For now and the next ten years, I really hope we keep using paper as the first and in-work official record.  

 

By the time physical sign-offs go away, we need a lot more improvement. ... AND then scouts won't need the paper BS handbook.  I would be more sad for that, but the book has been moving away from a great reference tool toward a coffee table picture book.  So maybe we are in a slow progression toward online sign-off and no handbook.  

 

 

In all cases, the scouts, parents, and leaders all like having the digital backup copy should something get lost or destroyed.

 

I agree it's useful.  It's just that the amount of work to keep those details recorded is way disproportionate to the amount of work to re-create the records.  Usually a destroyed blue card or a lost handbook can by re-created fairly quick.  The amount of effort to keep all the requirements up to date for many scouts is a lot of work and a lot of asking the scouts to hand in their handbook.  

 

 

 

A couple of the parents really like being able to check up on their son's advancement.  I'm not sure how I feel about this, but, it does keep things transparent.

I think that's the best feature of ScoutBook ... and it has it's pluses and minuses.

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Now, for the pack.

 

Have you ever tried to get a den leader to install packmaster?  Hint, they don't, or at least, most of them don't, or they do and manage to erase your dot net file.  I just had so many problems with that when I was a cub scout advancement chair.  My wife had the same issue as committee chair.  She actually had an advancement chair quit on her because packmaster was too complicated. 

 

scoutbook.com is really great for packs who often have a lot of cooks in the kitchen when it comes to advancement, giving them all, from the parent to the den leader an easy way to input advancement and award information.  It requires almost no instruction, works well on almost all mobile phones (even my WIndows phone), and the millennial parents seem to pick it up with ease. 

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Now, for the pack.

 

Have you ever tried to get a den leader to install packmaster?  Hint, they don't, or at least, most of them don't, or they do and manage to erase your dot net file.  I just had so many problems with that when I was a cub scout advancement chair.  My wife had the same issue as committee chair.  She actually had an advancement chair quit on her because packmaster was too complicated. 

 

scoutbook.com is really great for packs who often have a lot of cooks in the kitchen when it comes to advancement, giving them all, from the parent to the den leader an easy way to input advancement and award information.  It requires almost no instruction, works well on almost all mobile phones (even my WIndows phone), and the millennial parents seem to pick it up with ease. 

 

Agreed.  My old pack switched fairly quick and easily to ScoutBook.  The hardest part they had was making the roster right with contact information and dens and ranks.  Otherwise, it helped with advancement tracking.  But then again they used ScoutTrack before.  That worked too.

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we don't use scoutbook yet.  Our feeder pack has used it for a little while, so as more boys cross over and their parents are used to it, that may be where we go.

our biggest complaint when we started is that to be fully functional everyone has to have their own email address, and we have whole families with lots of boys that only have one email address.  have they fixed that yet?

 

well and we paid for 3 years of troop web host and it's working pretty well even though parents won't access it if they don't have to.  they just wait to get the automated newsletter of events each week. Not sure they'll really access this.

 

We have 68 scouts so while I don't like entering stuff into troop web host and then into scout net, it's automated, uploads are pretty efficient and printing an effective roster out of either place, scout net or twhost are both useable.  If scoutbook can't do a roster then it won't work, esp a roster for event sign ups.  We actually use gmail forms to make sign ups for most events and then the scribe enters the attendance on twhost. 

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Feel free to send me what that looks like in a PM or start a thread.   What questions would you want answered, etc.

 

I did respond fo BSA's call for IT volunteers, so hopefully we will converge on some really good interfaces.

At one point tour plans were fillable .pdf format. I could send the responsible youth the form. He or she would then fill it out and return it to me for my signature, and I would sign and turn it in. This really helped youh get involved in the planning process. And it helped them think through what they needed to do resolve to make a safe trip.

 

Basically the current tour planning process broke that way of operating, so I'm simply envisioning increased individual access to my unit's tour plans. The questions don't change much at all, but who can complete them should.

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