New Course Release: Project 2013

by Beau - Feb 26, 2015


LearnKey’s Project 2013 course will introduce learners to the new features of Project 2013. Join LearnKey expert Michael Solomon as you learn how to start a project, create a schedule, manage resources, and more. This course is perfect for beginners and experts alike.

Our hope is that through our courseware we may provide learners with the guidance, preparation, and skills they need to succeed. For more information and to learn about additional LearnKey products visit our website.



Veteran Testimonial – Tristan Roberts

by Jenna - Feb 20, 2015


When my friend Joe talks about his time in the Army, he’s told me that he misses “that feeling of brotherhood.” While I’ve never served in the military, I have an incredibly close relationship with my family and remember how alone and cut off I often felt from their care, direction, and loyalty during the year I lived abroad after college.

After I came home and started working as a Veteran Services Rep, I was struck by the loyalty and caring that I saw demonstrated so often at LearnKey. I loved (and still love) listening in on the other LKVS ladies and hearing them talking about their vets’ successes. I loved (and still love) that in our weekly meetings we all (and by “we all” I mean the advisors, the VSRs, the Know Your Talents team, Jeff Coruccini and our awesome tutor Tristan) celebrate together whenever a veteran earns a certification, gets a job interview, or finishes their program with us. Most of all I loved—and love—that when we announce our vets’ successes, we say all their names instead of giving the group a number.

Tristan in particular continues to impress me with his efforts on our veterans’ behalf. When I met Tristan and put a face to the voice on the speakerphone, my initial impression was that he was just as mellow and calm in person as he was on the phone. Now that I’m starting to direct the veterans I assist to him for tutoring help, I really respect the way Tristan reaches out so quickly, offers his help and is always working to create more study materials.

Watching Tristan’s testimonial about the Blue Ocean program and looking back on my earliest days at LearnKey was a powerful reminder for me that OUR end goal here will never be racking up certifications, program completions, or even job placements. We’re here to give people the chance to build on the values they lived through their service to our country and to be the loyal, caring support system that they deserve.

This is Jenna’s debut LearnKey blog post! She has been a Veteran Services Rep with us for four awesome months. Jenna loves theatre, smoothies, her husband, and being asked about her year teaching English in China!



8 LearnKey Career Paths That Will Increase Your Yearly Income

by Brad - Feb 18, 2015


According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in 2013 in the United States was $51,939. While this was a slight rise from the previous year, 2010 and 2011 both saw significant declines in the median household income. 2014 saw the median income rise to levels more consistent with those in 2010, but they are still significantly lower than in 2009.

Household income levels are related to the rise and fall in the economy, but there are steps that can be taken to see an increase in income during hard economic times. LearnKey has designed a series of training bundles to help job seekers prepare for careers that will continue to be in demand, even when the economy is poor. Here are eight of LearnKey’s career paths which have the highest potential to raise your salary above the median household income:

Accounting and Finance
Accounting and finance workers are responsible for financial documents, forecasts, reports, direct investment activities, financial analysis strategies, balance sheets, loans, payroll, auditing, bookkeeping and other financial transactions. Knowledge of computer programs is essential in today’s market. Individuals in the accounting and finance role need to keep up-to-date on the latest technology in order to increase the efficiency of their firms financial operations.

  • Median Pay: $61,000-$64,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications (CPA or CMA) or Bachelor’s Degree (recommended not required)
  • Careers available in many industries (hospitality, corporate, government, etc)

Business Management
Business managers perform a broad range of duties in virtually every sector of the economy. Generally management roles are split into two levels, first-line managers and mid-level managers. First-line managers directly supervise a staff that performs various support services. Mid-level managers develop departmental plans, set goals, deadlines, implement procedures to improve productivity and customer service, and define the responsibilities of supervisory-level managers.

  • Median Pay: $78,000-$81,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Bachelor’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries (information technology, administrative, financial, purchasing, and human resources)
  • Should maintain and enhance skills in team building, leadership, and workplace law to maintain a competitive edge within company

Computer Security Specialist
A computer security specialist’s main responsibility is to ensure the security, integrity, and safety of an organization’s data. Individuals should have specific knowledge on wireless networking, cyber-space management and adapt their knowledge to stay ahead of cyber-attacks.

  • Median Pay: $75,000-$86,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Associate’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries (government, retail, manufacturing, data processing, and other information industries)

Computer Systems Analyst
A computer systems analyst determines which type of computer system will best serve the needs of a business or organization, by helping them run more efficiently. This position requires the ability to focus on more than a single project. At times a computer systems analyst may be required to work on multiple projects at one time. Computer systems analysts will often work with the managers of different departments to determine what technology and computer systems are needed.

  • Median Pay: $71,000-$81,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Bachelor’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries (computer systems, insurance, banks, and hospitals)

Database Administrator
A database administrator determines ways to organize and store data using database management system software. They identify user requirements, test and set up databases, and coordinate modifications to the systems. A database administrator understands the platform on which the database runs, ensures data integrity, backs up systems, and manages the performance of systems. A database administrator ensures that users have access to the data they need and keep data safe from unauthorized access.

  • Median Pay: $73,000-$77,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Bachelor’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries (computer systems, insurance, banks, and hospitals)

IT Network or System Administrator
IT network or system administrators are tech savvy experts, responsible to ensure the day-to-day efficient use of networks and systems within a company or organization. This position requires an individual to be knowledgeable with cyber-security practices, to protect a business’s important information.

  • Median Pay: $69,000-$71,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Associate’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries (government, retail, manufacturing, data processing, and other information industries)

Software Developer
Software developers are responsible for developing applications for computers and other devices that allow people to perform a specific task. They also design systems that are used to control networks or run various devices. Developers work closely with customers to ensure that their needs are understood and will work through any complaints. A developer is responsible for any upgrades and maintenance to a program.

  • Median Pay: $90,000-$93,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Bachelor’s Degree
  • Careers available in many industries

Web Developer
Web designers create, design, develop, and maintain websites using authoring and scripting languages, create content and digital media, and employ standards and technologies for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce websites. Along with the look of a website, a developer is also responsible for the technical aspects and content of a site.

  • Median Pay: $60,000-$63,000 per year
  • Minimum Education: Industry Certifications or Bachelor’s Degree

Income and education information courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition. Accessed March 2014.



6 Simple Tips to Advance Your Career

by Brad - Feb 12, 2015


Do you ever feel trapped in a dead-end job or feel like you’ve reached the height of your career? I’m sure most of us have felt that way at some point in our lives. Most of us want to advance in our careers, but we don’t always know where to start.

A couple of years ago, I worked on a course which required extensive research on how to succeed at work. While I’m sure there are many things we could add to the list, all of my research seemed to boil down to six simple steps that anyone can follow to advance in their career.

Be Consistent

While it can be fun and exciting to be spontaneous, it is rarely appreciated in most workplaces. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun at work, but inconsistency can quickly kill your career. Simple things like following a set schedule, arriving on time for your job, and maintaining a high quality of work can put you on the fast track for a promotion. There are few things more frustrating for a manager than not knowing when employees will show up or what the quality of their work will be like when they do.

Challenge Yourself

No matter how enjoyable your job is, performing the same tasks day after day can get repetitive and make you feel like you’re in a slump. Sometimes the fix for this can be as simple as developing a better way to complete a task. If that’s not an option, you may choose to volunteer for new assignments or use your downtime to work on new projects.
Another way to challenge yourself is to learn new skills. Many employees have access to training programs through their companies, and for those who don’t there are many online options, such as LearnKey’s self-paced training courses. The more knowledge and skills you can acquire, the more valuable you can make yourself to your company.

Show Loyalty

You may not always agree with everything, but supporting your manager’s decisions can go a long way toward advancing your career. Your manager may not always do things the way you would do them, but that doesn’t mean their method is wrong. Don’t undermine your manager’s authority by airing your grievances publicly. Carefully determine which battles are truly worth fighting and talk to your manager privately if you have a legitimate concern.

Admit Your Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. John Wooden once said, “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.” When you make a mistake, you have two choices: try to blame your mistake on someone else, or admit your mistake and work to correct it. In all areas of life, those who freely admit to their mistakes and work to correct them gain more respect than those who are constantly trying to push their mistakes onto others.

Stand Up for Yourself

You are an important asset to the company, and sometimes you need to remind your manager of that. Find ways to subtly market yourself, like offering to help on a project for which you have a private talent. Make a list of contributions you have made within the company and use those when asking for a raise or promotion. And don’t be afraid to ask. If you feel you are unlikely to get what you want, start with something bigger and negotiate down. If your manager has concerns about your work or qualifications, ask for feedback on how you can improve.

Find a Mentor

Sometimes all you need to get ahead is someone to show you how it’s done. Find someone you look up to and observe their work habits and methods. You can even formalize the relationship by asking the person to mentor you. Many companies have structured mentoring programs where you can set guidelines and define your goals and expectations. In the absence of a formal mentoring program, mentoring can happen as a natural outgrowth of mutual respect.

I hope you find these six tips useful and good luck in your career advancement!



Newest EOM helps veteran students realize their potential!

by Jeff - Feb 04, 2015


You can always tell when someone loves their job. It’s not in what they say, it’s the results they achieve, and this month’s Better Learning Systems/LearnKey employee of the month is Susan Havens, a Veteran Services Representative who has a passion for helping students.  This is evident in the way she supports the sixty-five (65) plus students she works with who are going through our Blue Ocean IT & Career Ready program!

Even though Susan has only been with LearnKey for four (4) months she brings passion, commitment, and discipline to her job each and every day. Her manager had this to say during her nomination:

Susan Havens

“Susan has done an amazing job taking the roll of supporting our Veteran Students, and has really helped mentor and motivate them to stay on track and achieve their goals. She is a true display of our core values by earning trust from her team members that she is going to follow through on any task she is given and is an absolute professional when it comes to customer service. We truly value her ability to dig in and figure out how to complete a task on time and she makes it easy for students to like her as she is always engaging with them frequently to ensure they are moving along in their coursework and removing any challenges they face”.

We strive to make LearnKey a fun place to work and Susan fits right in with her funny personality and natural “can do” approach to supporting other team members. Take a minute to get to know the personal side of Susan through this fun Q&A:

  1. How many siblings do you have? I am number 3 out of 3 brothers and 4 sisters.
  2. What is your favorite movie? The older comedies because they aren’t so crude…like “The Man Who Knew too Little,” “Grumpy Old Men,” the “Vacation” Movies w/ Chevy Chase, and “What About Bob.”
  3. What is your favorite band? I love the 80’s Rock Bands…like Chicago, 38 Special, Foreigner, and Aerosmith.
  4. What is your favorite vacation spot? The central coast in California Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, San Louis Obispo area. Still a quiet beach community.
  5. What was your High School Mascot? A Porterville Panther.
  6. What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? Honestly, I avoid weird foods at all costs! I’m not a big fan of weird or things that are considered NOT food. I will eat most anything, but weird.
  7. What is/was the name of your favorite pet? My favorite pet was a little Chihuahua named Annie.
  8. What was your first car? A yellow Datsun B210 and my favorite car was a 76 Camaro when I was a senior in High School.
  9. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? I’ve been most everywhere, but I would really like to go to Italy and visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Rome and Jerusalem and Greece.
  10. Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? I would probably have a higher percentage of survival zip lining.
  11. What is the funniest thing you have heard working here? Nothing specific, but I work with a bunch of witty people who crack me up everyday.
  12. If you could eat dinner with anyone past, present, or future who would it be? Bill Murray. He cracks me up and I love his sense of humor!

Please join me in congratulating Susan on being our February 2015 employee of the month, and now that I know she does not eat weird food so much for her trying my home made Chili!.



New Course Release: Windows 8.1 Configuration

by Beau - Jan 30, 2015


In LearnKey’s Windows 8.1 Configuration course students will learn what’s new in the latest Microsoft operating system: Windows 8.1. Join LearnKey expert Tom Carpenter as he covers topics such as upgrading to Windows 8.1, remote access, mobility, and more! Once you understand the new features and changes in this OS, you will see that it is a pleasure to work with.

Our hope is that through our courseware we may continually provide learners with the guidance, preparations, and skills they need to succeed. For more information and additional to learn about additional LearnKey products visit our website.



Spanish IC3 and Me

by Brad - Jan 21, 2015


Not long ago, LearnKey released a course on IC3 GS4 with Spanish audio and English text. The course was designed to allow Spanish speaking students to learn computing skills by hearing their native language while seeing the computer terms in English.

A couple of months ago, the decision was made to revamp this course by converting all of the graphics into Spanish. This new course is designed to allow Spanish speaking students to learn computing skills by hearing and seeing computer terms and practices in full Spanish. As a result of this decision, I spent most of the last two weeks reviewing the English version of IC3 and recapturing all of the screen captures using Spanish versions of Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite.

I have captured several courses over the years, including both the full screen and widescreen versions of English IC3 GS4, but this experience was a little different and more complicated than what I had gone through in the past.

To begin with, I don’t speak Spanish. When I was in high school and had to choose a foreign language class, I chose to take French. I was heavily involved in theater and thought French would serve me better in the performing arts than Spanish. About the only Spanish I know is the little bits and pieces I picked up watching “Dora the Explorer” with my daughter nearly a decade ago.

After getting the Spanish versions of Windows and all the software I needed installed, it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of things. Whenever I clicked on the wrong items, I couldn’t read the screen to tell where I was and how to get back to where I wanted to be. Luckily I was able to use the English course as a reference, and I eventually learned that if I worked really hard ahead of time to memorize the look of the icons I needed it was easier not to get lost. I also found that using an online translator was invaluable. The translations probably weren’t perfect, but they were close enough to help me understand what the buttons and error messages said whenever I found myself off course.

Now before anyone out there gets the wrong idea about this course, I’m just a minor cog in the great machine which is working on this course. After I finished the screen captures, I sent them on to the design team, several members of which are fluent in Spanish. My screen captures will be thoroughly reviewed and any mistakes I may have made will be sent back for me to recapture. After the design team finishes reviewing my files and translating the rest of the course graphics into Spanish, the course will be put through a rigorous quality control process to catch any leftover mistakes.

Stay tuned for the release of IC3 Global Standard 4 – Full Spanish in the next couple of months.



Newest EOM keeps LearnKey looking good!

by Jeff - Jan 08, 2015


Join me in welcoming in 2015!

Its always exciting to start a new year especially when you have a great team.  No better way to do that than talking about our great people. So it gives me great pleasure to announce our first 2015 BLS/LearnKey employee of the month, JJ Embleton, who is our lead on the LearnKey production design team.

JJ_small

JJ’s job is not easy as he plays a key role in making sure our course designs are modern, effective, and drive learning engagement. A great example is the work he did around our Security+ course the end of last year and how he lead the team fostering creativity and providing feedback.  Here is what his nominating leader had to say about his efforts:

“It’s hard to choose just one course where JJ has exceeded my expectations as there have been several courses over the past six months where the Design team has had to meet crazy tight deadlines, Flash CC included. He ensures the courses we are releasing are up to the standard we have come accustomed, all while rallying the team alongside him. He does this with his strong organizational skills and a relentless positive attitude of ‘it may be hard, but we can do it.’”

We are fortunate to have JJ as part of our team and along with being a great co-worker we wanted to share a little about his personal life. So take a minute to get to know him through this fun Q&A:

1. How many siblings do you have? One Brother and one sister both younger.

2. What is your favorite movie? Haha! It changes about every week for me but right now it is Big Hero 6.

3. What is your favorite band? That is also another one that changes often, but I have been listening to a lot of Archive lately.

 4. What is your favorite vacation spot? Anywhere with good vistas and good hikes. I love hiking with my family!

 5. What was your high school’s mascot? The Panthers.

 6. What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? I don’t know if it is exactly food, but recently when I was super sick and probably doped up on cold medicine, I mixed Grape Airborne with milk… It ended up being pretty good.

 7. What is/was the name of your favorite pet? Tango. He was a Yellow Labrador I had pretty much all through growing up.

 8. What was your first car? 1998 Ford Taurus

9. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? I would love to go anywhere in the Scandinavian/Icelandic regions.

 10. Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? Sky dive.

11. What is the funniest saying you have heard working here? “Mmm, hot brownie…in my mouth”

 12. If you could eat dinner with anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why? My Grandpa Chuck. I knew him well when I was younger but he passed away and I think it would be really fun to get to know him better as an adult.

Please join me in congratulating JJ on his recent success and thanking him for his contributions to our great team!

Sincerely,

Jeff Coruccini

 



My Blue Ocean Experience

by Tristan - Jan 05, 2015


My name is Tristan Roberts. I’m a veteran who obtained my IT certifications through LearnKey and I’m writing to share my experience with LearnKey’s Blue Ocean Program with those who might be considering taking on the challenge. I spent about nine months working through the program. During that time I acquired the A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications as well as Microsoft Office’s Word, Excel, and Outlook certifications, and I’m going to talk about some of the successes I had, as well as some of the failures during my journey.

I believe that most of the success I had was due to having the right attitude going into the program. I spoke with my advisor (Seth Boyak) and he gave me a good idea of what to expect out of the program, provided me with a demo to sample, provided me with an estimated timeline, and let me know that it wouldn’t be easy. That is a point I want to reiterate…this is not a program that you can expect to skate through, which is a rude awakening I had when I went in for my first A+ exam after months of studying. It’s going to take a good mix of motivation, focus, drive, resourcefulness, and patience to make it through, but it is doable.

I had to find specific traits within myself that helped me be successful in this program.

Motivation- You should have a genuine desire to learn the information that you strive for or it is likely that you will lose interest very quickly.

Focus- You have to set aside the time to learn and eliminate as many distractions as possible to give yourself a better chance to retain the information.

Drive- There has to be an end goal, or something you are striving for to keep you going during the difficult times or it is easy to consider giving up when it gets difficult.

Resourcefulness- The IT world is full of unlimited information and is constantly changing. Portions you already know, portions you will learn, portions that will change, portions that have already changed. Sometimes the information will be easy to find, and sometimes it will be difficult, but it’s important to know that there is an answer, you just have to seek it out a little harder periodically.

Patience – Some of these certifications are difficult to obtain and you will need to take a one step at a time approach to prepare yourself to be as ready as possible. It’s a good idea to explore all of the resources that are provided (and sometimes find your own) if you expect to be complete the program and pass your certification exams.

LearnKey has great employees who are willing to go above and beyond to help us veterans in any way possible, and that is a big part of the reason that I accepted a job with LearnKey, when they offered me a job once I completed the Blue Ocean program. I wanted to help other veterans going through the program avoid some of the barriers that impeded my progress.

Overall I am grateful that I came across the Blue Ocean program and that I was able to complete this difficult challenge and not let it defeat me. Even after I failed my first exam, I just took a couple days off and attacked it again from another angle, and that is the approach you must bring with you entering this program. If you can do that, I’m proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel.



2014 Highlights

by Brad - Dec 31, 2014


The changing of a year is often a time of reflection and rededication. It’s a time to reflect on and analyze events of the previous year and rededicate ourselves to becoming the best we can be. It’s a time to remember accomplishments and set goals for the coming year. As I reflect on what LearnKey has accomplished in 2014, I realize that LearnKey and Better Learning Systems have had a very busy year. Very busy, and very productive.

LearnKey Website Redesign

Early this year, we began updating the design of the LearnKey website. This design update was an extensive process and was implemented a page at a time over the course of several months. The initial design was developed by Colin Bell, who left the company in February to pursue freelance web design work. Over the next several months, I created variations on Colin’s design to bring the remaining pages on the website into harmony with the finished pages.

Also in early 2014, Better Learning Systems developed an educational grant program to provide LearnKey courseware at a discounted rate for individuals who qualify. Our goal with this program is to provide assistance to those who need help in reaching their educational and professional goals, helping them gain the skills they need to succeed in their careers.

In February, LearnKey attended the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Recognition Ceremony put on by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). Alex Bell and Emma Mendez, two teachers who have worked closely with LearnKey over the years, were both honored at the ceremony.

In March, LearnKey courseware was approved by the New York State Department of Labor and added to the Eligible Training Provider List. To be included, LearnKey courses were subjected to a review process to ensure they complied with the high standards set by the Department of Labor.

In June, as we began to wrap up the new website design, a new feature was added to the LearnKey website. Website users now have the option of engaging in a live chat with members of the LearnKey Client Services team.

In a much-needed move, LearnKey announced the retirement of a large number of obsolete courses in July. In order to make the transition easier for users, the courses on the list are no longer being sold but will remain active on OnlineExpert until January.

Amelia Williams

Also in July, we released our first course presented in American Sign Language, Word 2013 ASL. Presented by certified ASL interpreter Amelia Williams, this course represents LearnKey’s latest attempt to improve our product and make it more useful for users.

In August, LearnKey Veteran Services’s Blue Ocean program began showing results with the graduation of Tristan Roberts. While in the Blue Ocean program, Tristan earned certifications in CompTIA’s A+, Network+, and Security+, and Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and Outlook. Upon graduation, Tristan was offered a job at LearnKey and is now a member of our Veteran Services team.

LKVS Website Redesign

In September, we updated the design of the LearnKey Veteran Services website to match the design of the main LearnKey site, including the live chat option. We also added a new Student Resource Center for Veteran Services students. The Student Resource Center includes support information, LKVS contact information, and links to our monthly LKVS newsletters, certification pocket guides, and weekly tutoring sessions.

In October, LearnKey attended the Arizona Business Leadership’s “Heroes for Hire” event where we were recognized by the ESGR for our efforts in hiring veterans. LearnKey has employed many veterans over the years and promises a job offer to any veteran to graduate from our Blue Ocean program.

Over the course of the year, LearnKey has been working on an application with the Project Management Institute (PMI) to be recognized as a Registered Education Provider. In October, LearnKey’s application was approved. This means that LearnKey’s Certified Associate in Project Management® 2014 and Project Management Professional® 2014 Certification Prep courses have met the PMI’s rigorous quality criteria.

By anyone’s standard, I would say 2014 was a fantastic year for LearnKey. In addition to the nineteen new courses we’ve released, LearnKey has updated our websites, been recognized for the quality of our products, and instituted several new programs to further education. We are meeting our goal of helping people fulfill their dreams through better learning, and LearnKey plans to continue our mission in 2015.



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