Activity: What Can Scouting Merit Badges Teach Us About Designing Modules?

As I mentioned recently, Scouting does pretty good work with curriculum and shares many characteristics with our Distributed PD work.

(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 “Modules” where the other is focused on “Advancement”)

As we think about designing our professional learning modules, what might we learn from how Scouting does Merit Badges that would help us frame ours?

Check out the Scouting Introduction to Merit Badges page. Look at least 3-5 sets of requirements (there are links to the requirements for specific badges further down the page). 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 Merit Badge requirement checklists at (scroll down the page some). Again, look 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.)
  • If each badge is a “chunk” of the total curriculum, how do they make them “right sized”?
  • What kinds of evidence do they expect the learner to collect? How do they document learning?
  • Based on these materials, what else can Scouting teach us about organizing and structuring our modules?


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