BSA has finally made the new Cub Training system available online. I have completed the first third of the Den Leader Training. From this limited experience, I have learned a lot about the new system.
The new training system is wholly different than our old system. It relies on a third-party vendor that provides online training systems which is branded as ScoutingU. This means that you have to login to the new system, even if you are already logged into to my.scouting.org. The ScoutingU website has its own quirks and navigational issues. Its flow is terrible. You have to read the instructions extremely carefully, because it is not at all like either the old system or most any other operating system that you have used.
Please note that the vendor does not appear to have access to your “Trained” record in ScoutNet (as viewed in my.scouting.org or myscouting.scouting.org). It can only report whether you have “Completed” or are “Incomplete” on the vendor’s training modules. Please check with my.scouting.org for your training records’ status.
If you are having technical difficulties accessing the new training site, read the comments section below for updates and tips for troubleshooting.
You start by selecting your program. In my case, I chose Cub Scouting. (It was the only one available, too, since the others are still being built.)
You will then need to select one of the different Training Programs available. They are Den Leader Training, Cubmaster and Assistant Cubmaster Training, and Pack Committee Training. Below each of the three are examples of different leadership positions that use each type of training. So, a Tiger Cub Leader and a Webelos Den Leader both select the Den Leader Training.
Then you will need to pick which part of the Den Leader Training you wish to complete. This one of the parts that is extremely quirky. Notice that the instructions state, “Hover over the Learning Plan name and a click the to add this to your learning plan”? You do not need to open each of the three parts. I would recommend that you keep the process simple: click each of the three. You will have to do them eventually anyway. This way they are immediately added to the “My Learning” page and you don’t have to interact with this page again. Now you need to move to the “My Learning” page immediately thereafter. Once you navigate to “My Learning” is much less quirky and easier to understand what is happening.
On “My Learning” your lessons are broken down into separate modules. This is both good and bad. It is good because it allows you to complete each module in less than 10 minutes. The module is immediately recorded to your training record. This means that you will not lose track of where you left off. It is bad because it means that you have to navigate through more screens and links to move from one module to the next. I personally prefer keeping clean tracking on my progress, so that I don’t have to waste my time and re-watch a completed module. Still, it is a bit tedious.
As you progress, the system breaks down deadlines for you to complete each level of training. Here is an example of my training progress after 50 minutes this morning. You can see that I am “100% complete” on the section for “Before the First Meeting.” It gave me a due date of September 17, 2015.
Comments on the Den Leader’s First Section
As I noted above, I completed this module in 50 minutes with a few minor breaks. The quizzes went quickly for me since I have decades of experience in scouting. A novice scouter may be slowed down by the quizzes.
After completing this module, a new den leader can now discuss the basics of the philosophy of scouting, meeting organization, planning, rank advancement, and den discipline. The new den leader has enough information to purchase meeting planning materials, teach the Bobcat rank, and run a few meetings.
The new den leader is not in any position to deal with the BSA paperwork or bureaucracy or understand what a pack is designed to do. The new den leader just knows enough to run the den meeting as a stand-alone unit.
Comments on the Scope of Training
The training is far more intensive than recent online efforts. This makes the sales pitch for training more difficult. It is now harder to say, “Just sit down and do it. It only takes 45 minutes.” The trade off is that the level of detail about how to be a den leader is vastly improved. The instructions are clearer. The logic of the BSA program is better explained. The links to online resources is made brainlessly simple with a link button appearing at key moments. The program automatically stops to allow the student to click the link, download the resource, peruse the resource, and then return to the training. This happens for the Guide to Insignia and Uniforms, Travel Permit form, youth-appropriate activities chart from the Guide to Safe Scouting, and many other documents.
My favorite part is the heavy emphasis on how to recruit other parents to help. It has a heavy focus on communicating simple tasks and measures of success. With this form of request, few parents refuse. It leads to better volunteerism from den parents. This guidance is invaluable to a new den leader.
Multiple Sections of Training
This new system breaks the training into three large sections that a den leader must complete in order to receive the Den Leaders’ “Trained Patch.” Youth Protection Training is separate. These sections are far longer than the previous online training. If the second and third sections are like the first, I would guess that the whole program takes more than 3 hours. The advantage is that you don’t need to sit for each module. You can take a few minutes each evening and work your way through.
Tip on Pausing and Checking Progress.
The training modules do not have a revealed progress bar or pause button. They have to be opened using a very subtle arrow button on the lower left corner. They open across the bottom of the screen. Similarly, a module overview bar can be revealed by clicking on the “TOC” button on the right side of the progress bar. When these bars are both opened, the screen looks like this.
In any case, I would recommend budgeting some uninterrupted time to move through these trainings.
Why Training is Important
Remember training for your position is important to the boys you serve and to the proper functioning of the BSA program.
Boys will stay in scouting longer if they are kept busy on tasks that are fun and complete rank advancement. While advancement is only one of the methods of scouting, it is the part most noticed by persons outside the den. Advancement creates opportunity for outsiders to give a cub positive reinforcement. “What rank are you? Oh, a Wolf? Wow! That’s great! Are you working on your Bear right now?” These conversations give cubs bragging rights. If we are trained as leaders, we know better how to provide the program which gives the boy more opportunities for positive reinforcement.
Training also serves the administrative needs of the BSA. It allows the BSA to provide a consistent product among many volunteers. It allows units to sort out who is a committed enough leader to keep on their charter for the next year. Untrained leaders struggle to keep boys interested, which hurts the den and the pack. Requiring leaders be trained for rechartering allows the BSA to provide some quality control within the units.
Take the time to learn the new system. You will provide a better program. You will have less stress about knowing what to do. You will get more joy out of the experience.