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Nathan1001001

Scouting Advancement App

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Hi everyone! My friend and I are trying to raise money to build a scouting advancement app where scouts and leaders can sign up for a free account and get easy to follow tutorials, videos, and guides for rank advancement and merit badge requirements. I wanted to post this here to see if anyone would be willing to help fundraise or donate some of their time to help develop this. If you'd like to learn more or are willing to help, please contact me!! Thank you!

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Let me be blunt

Before I invest, I’d want to see a business plan

id want to see architecture and a technical approach

I’d want to see a Flexibility plan ... how can you adapt your software on the fly if your prime supported business (BSA) changes its approach to advancement in its programs.

I’d want to see scalability to other youth serving programs.  

You’re entering a market that already has a population. This isn’t 2000, when Troopmaster was new. 

Good luck and good hunting. 

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6 minutes ago, John-in-KC said:

Let me be blunt

Before I invest, I’d want to see a business plan

id want to see architecture and a technical approach

I’d want to see a Flexibility plan ... how can you adapt your software on the fly if your prime supported business (BSA) changes its approach to advancement in its programs.

I’d want to see scalability to other youth serving programs.  

You’re entering a market that already has a population. This isn’t 2000, when Troopmaster was new. 

Good luck and good hunting. 

Sure! I'll definitely add these things soon!

Regarding your comment about Troopmaster, the way I see it is that Troopmaster is limited. It works, but it doesn't have the functionality that this app would. Rather than giving you a place to solely track the requirements as it is said in the scout book and other merit badges, this app would provide lessons, tutorials, and other guides for the scouts if they were working alone. They could simply sign in, choose what they are working on, and see lessons about the particular topic. Say they are working on the astronomy merit badge where you must learn about things like the first aid while participating in astronomy activities or even about the planets. Sure, you could flip through the merit badge pamphlet (costing about $4-5 if your troop does not already have it), but this has been proven to not be as effective for people and is not the best way to actually retain the information. Rather than completing these requirements to solely advance in scouting, there would be more of a chance to learn and understand what is being taught. For leaders trying to teach to a group of scouts, they would not have to create their own lessons or use 10+ year old prezi presentations found online; they could use up-to-date lessons about each topic instead. I will work on creating an appealing business plan, flexibility plan, and the other things which I agree are needed to turn this into a working application. Thanks :)

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Then you’re going to need content creators. You’re going to have to set standards for quality of production. 
“The laborer is worthy of his wage.”  You’re going to have to have a compensation plan. 
 

lots of software becomes vapor ware between vision and deployment.  Your task is not to become vapor ware. 

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I like people thinking of innovations that can help troops and packs, however, I have some concerns with this. The goal I have with my troop is for my higher ranked scouts use the EDGE method to help the lower ranked scouts advance. It is great to help lower ranked scouts advance, but wouldn't this negatively impact the older scouts ability to develop their EDGE method skills? Isn't it better for a scout to get their "hands dirty", than to take online advancement classes? 

Merit Badges: I find myself wanting my son to sign up for online merit badges so he can advance in rank. But my concern is that he will be spoon fed information, instead of him having to research/explain/demonstrate the topic himself. I was asked to counsel a Weather MB at two canceled Camporees, and I was thinking I should have scouts research the requirements, themselves (easy as an internet search) and report back to me what they learned. I am thinking that this is better than lecturing scouts in a classroom. So while scouts are learning useful information about the weather, they are also learning how to investigate topics on their own.

Thoughts? 

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3 minutes ago, Owls_are_cool said:

I like people thinking of innovations that can help troops and packs, however, I have some concerns with this. The goal I have with my troop is for my higher ranked scouts use the EDGE method to help the lower ranked scouts advance. It is great to help lower ranked scouts advance, but wouldn't this negatively impact the older scouts ability to develop their EDGE method skills? Isn't it better for a scout to get their "hands dirty", than to take online advancement classes? 

Merit Badges: I find myself wanting my son to sign up for online merit badges so he can advance in rank. But my concern is that he will be spoon fed information, instead of him having to research/explain/demonstrate the topic himself. I was asked to counsel a Weather MB at two canceled Camporees, and I was thinking I should have scouts research the requirements, themselves (easy as an internet search) and report back to me what they learned. I am thinking that this is better than lecturing scouts in a classroom. So while scouts are learning useful information about the weather, they are also learning how to investigate topics on their own.

Thoughts? 

I totally agree! I think something like this would be best used as a tool and supplement to things like the EDGE method and research; not a replacement.

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29 minutes ago, John-in-KC said:

Then you’re going to need content creators. You’re going to have to set standards for quality of production. 
“The laborer is worthy of his wage.”  You’re going to have to have a compensation plan. 
 

lots of software becomes vapor ware between vision and deployment.  Your task is not to become vapor ware. 

I definitely understand the need for content creators. There is a large number of merit badges and rank requirements but thankfully a lot of leaders in scouting are also merit badge counselors so they are knowledgeable in the topics. I do not have many connections out side of my troop and my parent's friends who could be helpful in creating content for the app, so I came to this forum in order to try and find people who are willing to help, in any way that they can, so we can make this more than just a concept. I know that leaders already might have their own way of teaching their individual troop about the requirements but it could be possible to make a collection of ways leaders have been teaching their scouts so that we can turn it into a easy to follow app where all scouts will be able to learn in the best way possible.

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Personally not a fan. Allow me explain... advancement is a method, not the goal. All of the methods work with each other in furtherance of the aims.

As an example,  mBs as advancement in concert with adult association provide both the motivation and the medium for the scout to progress towards the aims. Advancement with mBs in absence of true adult association denies the scout the opportunity as promised by scouting. 

While I applaud your initiative, I do see this as a replacement for a real adult association opportunity. Scouts will simply go to a mB counselor (likely not even qualified in the mB, but approved by council anyway) and get "signed off" without gaining anything from the mB counselor except for a signature. If this resource is needed by the mB counselor, then he/she does not have the requisite knowledge or experience to be the mB counselor.

 

 

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29 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

Personally not a fan. Allow me explain... advancement is a method, not the goal. All of the methods work with each other in furtherance of the aims.

As an example,  mBs as advancement in concert with adult association provide both the motivation and the medium for the scout to progress towards the aims. Advancement with mBs in absence of true adult association denies the scout the opportunity as promised by scouting. 

While I applaud your initiative, I do see this as a replacement for a real adult association opportunity. Scouts will simply go to a mB counselor (likely not even qualified in the mB, but approved by council anyway) and get "signed off" without gaining anything from the mB counselor except for a signature. If this resource is needed by the mB counselor, then he/she does not have the requisite knowledge or experience to be the mB counselor.

 

 

So maybe direct the app more towards solely being a resource? The problem I see is with how scouts are being taught: in my troop, scouts must learn the requirements mainly by themselves. I think the same idea of a replacement of adult association can be seen with the scout book and merit badge pamphlets. A Scout can sit down and copy from the scout book or pamphlet each requirement and then show it to a leader and have it signed off. If the only idea is to focus on adult association opportunity, I do not think we should have the scout book or merit badge pamphlets at all. But these things should be treated as resources for both the scout and leader. If we focus on the issues with the scout book and pamphlets, it's that it is boring, hard to learn from, and even more of a "spoon-fed" guide. An ideal way, in my opinion, where a Scout completes a merit badge is where an individual scout or group of scouts research, learn, and figure out what the requirements are asking. They familiarize themselves with it, and then they go to their adult leaders to discuss what they learned and the leader can decide if the Scout has learned enough about the topic and are sufficient in it. The app could provide a better way for the scouts to complete the step in researching, learning and figuring out what the requirements are asking so the scout can then go and discuss with the adult leader.

I by no means want this to turn into a freebie for Scouts to abuse in their advancement to Eagle. If we put warnings and suggestions throughout the app saying things like this is meant to be used as a resource and after completing a guide that you are not yet done and need to now discuss what you learn with a leader, I think it will help the idea of having a more involved experience and therefore keeping advancement as the method.

What are your thoughts on this?

Edited by Nathan1001001
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I think there might be some slight confusion on the purpose and goal of the app so I can try to explain in more detail what one of the guides could look like. When Scouts sign in, they will choose what they are working on and see a guide that they can follow which will provide more detail of what is expected. For example... in the emergency preparedness merit badge, you must describe how to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, and recover to a list of scenarios. Rather than directly stating what the answer to each of these are, we can describe what each of the terms (prevent, protect, mitigate, etc.) mean and set the scene: You are going on a road trip from point a to point b, you must cross a windy one-way road that goes up a high mountain, maybe include some pictures or a video of what exactly is happening and hint at any emergencies that could occur. What are things you should do to prevent an incident? The scout can come up with their ideas such as looking at the forecast beforehand, plan to not go during the coldest part of the year, etc. and then there could be a prompt saying something like, now go discuss this with your leader. The idea is not to tell the scouts the answers to any of these scenarios, but to create a better way where they think through the problems and come up with their own ways. It will keep the Scout-Adult relationship and also provide instances where if an older Scout would like, to assist in these ideas. 

As of right now, I do not see the scout book or merit badge pamphlets providing anything like this and I can certainly see how this can benefit troops and the scouts.

Let me know :)

Edited by Nathan1001001

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1 hour ago, Nathan1001001 said:

So maybe direct the app more towards solely being a resource? The problem I see is with how scouts are being taught: in my troop, scouts must learn the requirements mainly by themselves. I think the same idea of a replacement of adult association can be seen with the scout book and merit badge pamphlets. A Scout can sit down and copy from the scout book or pamphlet each requirement and then show it to a leader and have it signed off. If the only idea is to focus on adult association opportunity, I do not think we should have the scout book or merit badge pamphlets at all. But these things should be treated as resources for both the scout and leader. If we focus on the issues with the scout book and pamphlets, it's that it is boring, hard to learn from, and even more of a "spoon-fed" guide. An ideal way, in my opinion, where a Scout completes a merit badge is where an individual scout or group of scouts research, learn, and figure out what the requirements are asking. They familiarize themselves with it, and then they go to their adult leaders to discuss what they learned and the leader can decide if the Scout has learned enough about the topic and are sufficient in it. The app could provide a better way for the scouts to complete the step in researching, learning and figuring out what the requirements are asking so the scout can then go and discuss with the adult leader.

I by no means want this to turn into a freebie for Scouts to abuse in their advancement to Eagle. If we put warnings and suggestions throughout the app saying things like this is meant to be used as a resource and after completing a guide that you are not yet done and need to now discuss what you learn with a leader, I think it will help the idea of having a more involved experience and therefore keeping advancement as the method.

What are your thoughts on this?

I can tell your heart is in the right place. And you are correct that the books and pamphlets are also used the same way, albeit not as good. The problem is the order in the process, including in your "ideal". Going to a leader (whether it is a PL or mB counselor) to get signed off should not be the first and last time the scout speaks with said leader. The scout should NOT be doing all the research, learning etc... on their own and then going to the leader to get signed off. The process should be more like:

1. Scout goes to PL (or mB counselor) first to discuss the requirement(s), what is expected and how to achieve it. (as opposed to the scout "figure out what the reqs are asking".)

2. The Leader then actively engages with the scout to learn, understand and be able to do the skills. The leader will also include his/her experiences with the topic and model integrity and ethical decision making in furtherance of the aims. (as opposed to "decide if the scout learned enough" on his own.)

3. If the requirement(s) are many, or the skill is complex, or there is an activity to now complete, the leader may ask the scout to take the new information or skills and practice/complete activity.

4. Then the scout meets again with the leader to "be tested" on the requirement. 

The process above might be cycled through multiple times for more extensive mBs A single rank requirement might be accomplished in a single cycle

 

 

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59 minutes ago, Nathan1001001 said:

I think there might be some slight confusion on the purpose and goal of the app so I can try to explain in more detail what one of the guides could look like. When Scouts sign in, they will choose what they are working on and see a guide that they can follow which will provide more detail of what is expected. For example... in the emergency preparedness merit badge, you must describe how to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, and recover to a list of scenarios. Rather than directly stating what the answer to each of these are, we can describe what each of the terms (prevent, protect, mitigate, etc.) mean and set the scene: You are going on a road trip from point a to point b, you must cross a windy one-way road that goes up a high mountain, maybe include some pictures or a video of what exactly is happening and hint at any emergencies that could occur. What are things you should do to prevent an incident? The scout can come up with their ideas such as looking at the forecast beforehand, plan to not go during the coldest part of the year, etc. and then there could be a prompt saying something like, now go discuss this with your leader. The idea is not to tell the scouts the answers to any of these scenarios, but to create a better way where they think through the problems and come up with their own ways. It will keep the Scout-Adult relationship and also provide instances where if an older Scout would like, to assist in these ideas. 

As of right now, I do not see the scout book or merit badge pamphlets providing anything like this and I can certainly see how this can benefit troops and the scouts.

Let me know :)

You are correct the pamphlet doesn't have these. That is because those should be part of the mB counselor meetings (yes plural) with the scout. Remember they are a mB "Counselor" not a mB "signeroffer". A mB Counselor should be counseling the scout in these matters with the aims in mind.

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12 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

I can tell your heart is in the right place. And you are correct that the books and pamphlets are also used the same way, albeit not as good. The problem is the order in the process, including in your "ideal". Going to a leader (whether it is a PL or mB counselor) to get signed off should not be the first and last time the scout speaks with said leader. The scout should NOT be doing all the research, learning etc... on their own and then going to the leader to get signed off. The process should be more like:

1. Scout goes to PL (or mB counselor) first to discuss the requirement(s), what is expected and how to achieve it. (as opposed to the scout "figure out what the reqs are asking".)

2. The Leader then actively engages with the scout to learn, understand and be able to do the skills. The leader will also include his/her experiences with the topic and model integrity and ethical decision making in furtherance of the aims. (as opposed to "decide if the scout learned enough" on his own.)

3. If the requirement(s) are many, or the skill is complex, or there is an activity to now complete, the leader may ask the scout to take the new information or skills and practice/complete activity.

4. Then the scout meets again with the leader to "be tested" on the requirement. 

The process above might be cycled through multiple times for more extensive mBs A single rank requirement might be accomplished in a single cycle

 

 

Unfortunately my troop does not do this and maybe if they did, I would not have felt the need to come up with this idea. I think it honestly might just depend on the troop. Mine and others might not have this kind of process but others might.

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7 minutes ago, Nathan1001001 said:

Unfortunately my troop does not do this and maybe if they did, I would not have felt the need to come up with this idea. I think it honestly might just depend on the troop. Mine and others might not have this kind of process but others might.

Perhaps a good place to start would be to implement a better process?

 

Oh, and welcome to the forum!

Edited by DuctTape
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10 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

Perhaps a good place to start would be to implement a better process?

 

Oh, and welcome to the forum!

Thanks for the welcome :)

 

Hm it just seems that here: https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/merit-badges/ the way you should complete merit badges are to pick a merit badge, find the counselor, and they are there to help if needed and if you don't need any specific help just to start working on the requirements. Says that when you are ready you should then call the counselor and discuss it with them and get it signed off (In my opinion, this seems very similar to what I was saying). From what I understand, counselors are another resource that you can use for help and the app could go along side what BSA recommends and be another resource for scouts. If I am mistaken, please let me know.

Edited by Nathan1001001

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