Activity: What Can Scouting Advancement Teach Us About Our Professional Learning Continuum?

Scouting does pretty good work with curriculum.

(Note: this post looks an aweful lot like another one posted about the same time. But keep in mind that this one is focused on “Advancement” where the other is focused on “Modules”)

Our Distributed PD work shares many characteristics with theirs: learning is customized; individuals progress at their own pace; they progress by demonstrating proficiency; learners have lots of voice and choice simultaneously with clear guidelines and expectations; learning is chunked into modules, instead of large all-encompassing courses; proficiency requires a mix of knowing and doing and applying/creating; responsibility for the learning is distributed; etc.

We're thinking “phases” and Scouting uses “rank” (Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout). For each rank, they have both clearly articulated requirements (both earning merit badges, and doing other specific things toward demonstrating mastery) and support resources, such as instructional guides and requirement checklists.

As we think about our professional learning continuum, what might we learn from how Scouting does Advancement and Awards that would help us frame our own advancement from phase to phase of technology integration (and perhaps awards, as well)?

Check out the Scouting Advancement & Awards page. Look at at least 3-5 sets of requirements and look for patterns. Don't get too hung up on the specifics of their content, but rather think about it as a system of learning and how it is organized and structured.

Also check out the rank advancement requirement checklists at (scroll down the page some). Again, look at at least 3-5 requirement checklists and try to identify patterns to the system.

While reviewing the resources on those pages think about these questions:

  • What kinds of requirements do they have? (Don't focus too much on the specific content, but rather on what kinds of things the requirements expect from the learners.)
  • Other than earning certain Merit Badges (modules), what kinds of requirements do they have?
  • What kinds of evidence do they expect the learner to collect? How do they document learning?
  • Should we consider having options similar to or analogous to the Awards? If so, what might they be?
  • Based on these materials, what else can Scouting teach us about organizing and structuring “advancement”?


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