Transition GPS & Virtual Curriculum: Where you are, when you need it training for separation assistance
Early indicators point to a strong start and receptiveness for online transition assistance by separating Servicemembers. The Defense Department Transition to Veterans Program Office announced availability of the Transition GPS (Goals, Plans and Success) virtual curriculum on the Joint Knowledge Online, or JKO, Portal in early October. Launched ahead of schedule to meet the need for an alternative training option due to government shutdown and closure of schoolhouse training, the Transition GPS virtual curriculum reports over one thousand course completions and positive user experience in the first three weeks. A credit to interagency partnership commitment to returning Servicemembers, the virtual curriculum is applauded as comprehensive, accessible, flexible and effective.
Asked whether the online courses effectively support transition planning from Active Duty, survey responses of early users indicate 70% either “Strongly Agree” or “Agree.” Comments offered reflect a positive experience as well: “This course helped me set a goal on what to do next.” “I learned how to make my transition to civilian life a lot easier.” “It helped because it provided a framework for the actions/considerations that will need to be considered as I approach retirement, as well as addressing the mental/emotional side of the process and available resources.” “It’s all good!!”
The virtual curriculum is part of the broader Transition Assistance Program redesign, packaged as Transition GPS, to deliver outcomes-based training based on career readiness standards to better prepare Servicemembers for successful transition from military to civilian life. The comprehensive program includes pre-separation counseling, development of a personal transition plan, and certification that career readiness standards are met before separation. The new curriculum, created by an interagency task force, is designed to provide a framework for making informed decisions - to set goals for civilian life and gain the skills and resources needed to make a plan for success in meeting those goals.
The Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force, responsible for the transition assistance redesign, reached out to the Joint Staff for assistance to deliver the curriculum virtually on JKO to ensure accessibility for all Servicemembers — those geographically isolated from installations and classroom training. The virtual curriculum does not replace classroom training, but is a critical component of the new program and enables the objective to integrate transition considerations earlier as part of the full military lifecycle. Continuous availability of the virtual curriculum allows Servicemembers to self-educate and potentially use the information to shape military career decisions as an integrated path toward transition to civilian life.
The Task Force looked to JKO as the Joint Staff online training capability recognized for distributed learning expertise. The architecture is a mature learning content management system providing global, 24/7 access to military training with over 1.3M registered users and averaging 85 thousand course completions per month. It made sense to use the existing capability that Servicemembers go to for military training and to provide continuous availability to this useful information and resources anywhere, anytime. Comprehensively, JKO is the learning management system and courseware development toolkit for developing, delivering, tracking and reporting online training, and the staff of experts in instructional design and distributed learning technology. This team worked collaboratively with instructional experts from the Department of Defense and the Veterans Affairs, Labor and Education departments, as well as the Small Business Administration and the Office of Personnel Management to develop the Transition GPS virtual curriculum, ensuring all training modules are based on learning objectives and performance assessments to meet career readiness standards.
The core curriculum spans transition overview highlighting key issues and considerations for transition planning, financial planning, translating military experience and skills to the civilian sector, VA benefits briefings, Department of Labor employment workshop, and development of an Individual Transition Plan. Optional training tracks are available for accessing higher education, technical training and starting your own business. Training is practical and tangible as individuals prepare a 12-month post-separation budget, develop a job application packet with resume and personal and professional references, and learn how to apply for all eligible VA benefits. Depending on personal pursuit, Servicemembers may opt for training on identifying and applying to colleges or technical institutions using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, or the entrepreneur track that will assist in building a business plan.
The new Transition Assistance Program, Transition GPS, is a great example of cost effective leveraging of resources and capabilities to better serve our Servicemembers. The Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force, by virtue of collaboration and cooperation, is affecting a culture shift on a number of fronts — to a military lifecycle transition model versus waiting to the end of the service career, using online training to complement and augment schoolhouse training, and a cross-collaboration to develop a complete curriculum based on standards and learning objectives that can be adapted across Services without losing fidelity.