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#1 Gone

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 08:07 AM

What Technology Does Your Unit Use?

 

In looking through the "technology section" here I did not find a thread that summed up all the technology that we use in running our program. I thought it might be useful to start a thread that collected various technology used in your units.

 

Rather than be prescriptive, I thought it might be useful to just list out what you use and why you use it. I will offer up a sample from my unit.

  • TroopMaster: We use the client-based software for troop management. We have subscriptions to their web application which also links now to an iPhone/Android app where you can make changes to data either from the client software, web or app.
  • SOAR/MyTroop: This is our website. It links with TroopMaster and allows us to have a full-feature website with calendar, troop roster, mailing lists, newsletter, announcements, event registration, event payment, troop store, file archive and much more.
  • Social Media:
    • Facebook: We use as an online brochure. We post events, "like" scout-related entities and events, post stuff about the unit to raise awareness and serve as one place people interested in joining can find out more about us.
    • Twitter: Used for internal troop communications. Limited to logistics such as when we will be coming home from camp outs, E-Prep activities, reminders, etc.
    • Remind: Good one-to-many text tool. Use this to target text messages to specific groups (e.g., TFC, PLC, senior leaders, patrols, etc.).
    • Blogger: This is used to update parents while on camp outs or summer camp. Nice way to allow parents or grand parents to see what their kids are up to while away.
  • Photo Archives: Picasa, Imgur or Shutterfly allow you to privately share pictures taken with those who have a password. We take photos on trips and camp outs and post them to folders. People can download originals. On Shutterfly you can import them to make gifts or reprints.
  • Google Docs/OneDrive: Use these tools for file sharing and archiving large volumes of data; mostly working documents. Final docs are moved to the website. Committees, groups and patrols will use these tools to share docs/presentations in development. Great for program planning. Has a desktop sync feature that allows you to share a folder from desktop to cloud so you always have your data. Since it is in the cloud you can access from any computer or mobile device.
  • OneNote: Use this for the Scribe to send out and share PLC minutes. Same cloud-to-app feature as Google Docs and OneDrive.

Those are a few of the resources we use. What does your unit use?


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#2 Stosh

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 12:11 PM

Paper and pencil.

 

That's not a snarky answer, that is what we do.  There are forms that get printed out that are used, but for the most part, loose-leaf notebooks rule in the troop. 


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Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#3 andysmom

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 01:55 PM

We use Troopmaster.

We have a google website (which I hate, I would love to update to something with more features)

Facebook

Twitter

Looking into instagram and remind

we email, alot


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#4 SlowDerbyRacer

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 02:13 PM

SignupGenius for event sign ups.


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#5 Gone

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Posted 19 June 2015 - 09:55 AM

No one else is using any technology in unit management?  :confused:


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#6 Stosh

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Posted 19 June 2015 - 10:35 AM

No one else is using any technology in unit management?  :confused:

 

The templates I have created for the boys to organize their meals, activities, advancement, reports, requisitions, rosters, etc. were all done on Excel.  Does that count?


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Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#7 walk in the woods

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Posted 19 June 2015 - 10:43 AM

When I was still unit active:

 

- Google sites for the web page

- picasaweb for pictures that we pulled into the webpage

- google docs occasionally which also got linked into the webpage for the troop

- Callingpost for broadcast phone messages (coming home from campouts, short-notice schedule changes, etc.)

- Facebook (our Crew used this as a base communications method for a while, the kids moved on from FB though)

- Troopmaster.  I used this for personal record keeping, camping and meeting attendance, etc.

- paper copies printed out from Internet advancement that I kept in a folder? :)

 

My Jambo unit used Shutterfly shared sites for rosters, communications, broadcast emails and pictures.  It was ok but always seemed really klunky to me.


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#8 Gone

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Posted 19 June 2015 - 10:53 AM

The templates I have created for the boys to organize their meals, activities, advancement, reports, requisitions, rosters, etc. were all done on Excel.  Does that count?

 

Absolutely!!! ANY type of tool you use that is tech-based!!

 

 

When I was still unit active:

 

- Callingpost for broadcast phone messages (coming home from campouts, short-notice schedule changes, etc.)

 

 

Interesting. Did you use the demo account or did you pay the $20/month for the service for Callingpost?


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#9 Gone

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Posted 20 June 2015 - 02:18 PM

[Bump]

No technology?
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#10 walk in the woods

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Posted 20 June 2015 - 03:33 PM

Absolutely!!! ANY type of tool you use that is tech-based!!




Interesting. Did you use the demo account or did you pay the $20/month for the service for Callingpost?

I paid for the service. It was $20 for 200 outbound calls at the time. That said at our peak we were a unit of 10 boys from 8 families so 200 calls went a long way.

I didn't think about it above but we also had a small collection of office docs for duty rosters, grub master and menu planning, and outing schedules.

Edited by walk in the woods, 20 June 2015 - 03:35 PM.

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#11 Polaris

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Posted 21 June 2015 - 09:55 AM

Website--outdated. Needs webmaster. However, Google Calendar link is current. Members log in to view TroopMaster reports, adult and youth rosters, meeting minutes, etc.

TroopMaster for advancement.

TroopLedger for finances.

Google Groups for mass email. Divided into adults only and adults/youth. Primary form of communication.

Shutterfly share site. Photos are uploaded into event folders.

MS Excel, Word and PowerPoint for spreadsheets, docs and COH slide presentations. Not sure of program used to create COH printed programs.
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#12 StillLoomans

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 03:23 PM

Most of our troop organization seems to be through Google products.

  • Gmail for email communication. Love the ability to easily create and assign sub-groups.
  • Google Drive for sharing documents, templates.
  • Google Calendar for event notification by email and shared calendars. It's easy to find and include other calendars, like the school district schedule.
  • Google slides for COH presentations.
  • Chromecast for video clips (like Philmont presentation) and movies for lock-ins.

Mint for treasury management, budget tracking.

Scout Track for advancement tracking and syncing to Internet Advancement, tracking service hours, PORs, training.

 

Facebook to share photos with each other and photos/events from other scout organizations like summer camp, district shares, etc.

 

Parents communicate primarily by email. Scouts communicate primarily by phone.

 

Because I think troop size plays a part in tech decisions, I will also share that we have 19 scouts registered to our unit.


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#13 zgeist

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 09:42 PM

Our pack does not currently use any tech tools, but I am trying to change that.  Perhaps this was not the intent of this thread, but I would LOVE to see a current comparison of the different tools available.

 

So far,  I have looked at Soar/myPack, TroopWebHost, TroopWebHostCS, TroopTrack, ScoutManager, ScoutBook, ScoutSprout, Shutterfly, Scout Journey, CubTrails, ScoutLander, and a few others. Frankly, I'm overwhelmed.

 

The ones that have the most features are old and clunky looking with poor usability (imho).  There are a few with really clean interfaces, emphasizing usability, but they are not full-featured.  It is those that look most promising, but are usually one-person operations and so are prone to falling behind the times (like not having the latest cub scout advancements implemented yet) or just shutting down altogether.

 

Nothing is 'just right' and I find it really frustrating.


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#14 Gone

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 07:02 AM

@zgeist I can recommend TM and SOAR/mytroop. They work well together, reduce admin, track advancement and display them, email, website, form tracking, etc. Mobile use as well and can be customized. Simple to use so you can pass along to less technical people and support from the companies is excellent.
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#15 zgeist

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 02:50 PM

@zgeist I can recommend TM and SOAR/mytroop. They work well together, reduce admin, track advancement and display them, email, website, form tracking, etc. Mobile use as well and can be customized. Simple to use so you can pass along to less technical people and support from the companies is excellent.

 

So, I took another look at SOAR/myTroop since so many on here recommend it, including you. And I have to admit I am now impressed. Initially I didn't dig too deep because it looked so old. But after really trying it out, it actually has a lot of nice - usable - feature.  USABLE is key as I hope to get all the other leaders using this tool, too.

 

It has two drawbacks - 1) it doesn't do advancement tracking at all, and 2) the website configuration options are a pain to use. 

 

I understand that you guys use TM for your advancement tracking.  Since it needs to be installed on a desktop that is really a no go for us.  And I'm on a mac, too - so I'm not going to install windows in a virtual environment just for that. And what happens when I leave the pack?

 

I was looking at Scoutbook for advancement tracking, and while it is pretty slick in some regards it is super-annoying in others.

 

It occurs to me that I could just upload an spreadsheet to the files section of the SOAR site and have leaders update it there.

 

I've looked at TroopWebHostCS and while it does have more features than SOAR/myTroop (what an awful name btw) they are much harder to use. The organization is weird.

 

I think ScoutManager (not to be confused with ScoutManage) looks good. It has a nice clean layout, is pretty easy to use. It has advancement tracking, but it doesn't have a website.

 

 

@Bad Wolf - do you have any advice for creating the public website using SOAR? Anyway to make it look better?  


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#16 zgeist

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 02:52 PM

Oh, and Soar seems to have a pretty low data limit. Our pack likes to upload pictures from our events andI think we'd run out of space pretty quickly.

 

Do you think we could link to Shutterfly or something like that? Could we embed pics from Shutterfly so that it looks seamless I wonder?


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#17 Gone

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 07:03 AM

@zgeist a few points I can offer:

- Pics we use Shutterfly. It allows us the ability to share pics and videos better. We link from mytroop.
- TM is good and has a web version too. Can't speak to make usage on Mac. The web version is not as user friendly as the desktop version. The app they just deployed is decent and a great way to give lite access to Scout leaders.
- Online based advancement tracking could be dangerous. Make sure the provider you choose provides constant back ups. In other words, find out how often they back up data AND where it gets backed up. Ideally any online system backs data up AT LEAST daily and does it to a secondary site far away from where the primary site is. This way the worst case scenario is you will lose one day's worth of data.
- The problem with building your own website is that you need someone technical to take over when you leave. That person may be hard to find.
- Mytroop by itself is just average so you may be better off with another program that offers the features you need.

Since use ability is the key, what I've always found is to present the options to a group,,have them play with it and give their opinion. That way you get all the stake holders to buy in. ;)
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#18 zgeist

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 07:29 AM

After literally days of looking at and testing different online tools for our cub scout pack I had a realization: none of the parents would ever visit a website more than once, if they even bothered to do that. This hit home today when a group email was sent out about an event we have planned. One parent thanked me for the email, which was nice. But then, as an afterthought, I posted the details as an Event on our group's Facebook page - and within minutes several parents had RSVP'd!!! 

This really helped me realized what I was trying to accomplish. I want to 1) make it easier for our Pack to plan activities and 2) easier to keep parents informed. That's it - everything else is just gravy.
 
Keeping parents informed is key. None of them are going to look at any website we have more than once, and they are certainly not going to go back to look for updates. The announcements have to come to them.  Email is fine, but nowadays people skim or ignore that. Text messages might help - but they can be intrusive, so I'd want them to volunteer to get them. And publishing to Facebook apparently is great, I guess because people are already there for other things - things they find fun, like keeping up-to-date with family.

 

I have a spreadsheet a made with a detailed analysis of several of the software tools available. The analysis only covers the features I was interested in.

 

Is there some way I could attach that spread sheet here to help anyone else who is interested?
 
 


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#19 fred johnson

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 11:42 AM

A challenge with Facebook is planning and publishing a nice clean calendar for the year.  SOAR does that great.  

 

We use "Facebook" for pictures, promotion and social media.  Period.  

 

We manage events in SOAR.  You are right.  Fewer sign up than if it was in Facebook.  :(


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#20 prof

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 02:37 PM

Troop just switched from troop master to etrailtoeagle. I like the change.
Pack has just started using storybook. Happy with it as well. Love the communication features.
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