Sah-wat-dee Kah from Thailand

by Beth - Apr 24, 2018


The land of 1 million malls was left barren of Remote Year Kanyini on March 3rd, 2018. We left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and landed in Chiang Mai, Thailand!

The Culture of Thailand

 

Can be summed up in 2 words: Food (which gets its own section) and Fun!

Thailand means “Land of the Free,” and is a culture of some of the funniest and playful people I have encountered. As our climbing guide said, “if it isn’t fun or food, it’s not important.”

The area we lived in was Nimman, which as one of my RY companions said looks like someone took all the things a millennial would love on Instagram and made a city from it. Cafes, fancy coffee, rooftop bars, vegan restaurants, art galleries, and cute local shops lined the streets of Nimman. The “fun” was apparent in the bars with bunnies, hedgehog cafes, slides and ball pits (for adults) in restaurants, and the flamboyant, hilarious and extremely talented lady boy performances. I even found a Philadelphia Eagles bar, with of course, amazing food.

RY Kanyini had the opportunity to interview the performers prior to the Thai Lady Boy show. Incredible women, amazing show!

Although Uber was available, transportation around town was usually in Tuk-tuks or Red Cars (Song-taew). Tuk-tuks fell under the fun category as they whirl around corners and small streets as if they are trying to eject you, followed by a small giggle from the driver. Not everyone’s type of fun, but I enjoyed it!

Along with food and fun, I found that respect and courtesy was also among the top priorities of Thai people. This was expressed through greeting with a wai, a gesture of paying respect (put your palms together at chest level and bow slightly). Be sure to look if there are shoes outside, you probably should leave yours too.

The Food

Close up of the Seafood Khao Soi from Khao Soi Nimman. Pictured: tender squid AKA the Kraken.

Khao Soi, a magical mixture of sweet savory and spicy! Coconut milk-based, noodle soup either vegetarian or with any protein. I preferred the Seafood Koi soy with grilled squid. Yum.

7-11 toasties were amazing for late night treats as food places in Thailand close by 10:00P.M. (2200). As a night shift, toasties got us through the night, and some regretful mornings. Think of a buttery grilled cheese filled with anything from pork floss (my personal favorite), fish, or even sweet ones filled with chocolate. The 7-11 cashier would toast them up in a panini press, ready for consummation. Not sure why they are not in the states, because, they would make a killing for late night food.

Thai Tea is a sweet magical milky treat with condensed milk and lots of flavor.

One of the best meals I had, besides the one million bowls of Khao Soi, was a local famous street food stall. My brush with fame was Cowboy Hat Lady, as seen on Anthony Bourdain’s show. She makes the most flavorful, fall-off-the-bone tender pork. You just have a seat (if there are any available), and servers bring you an amazing feast, all for less than $10 U.S. dollars.

Remote Year Experience (working and living)

Because there were so many Expats and many parts of the area we lived in did not feel foreign, it did not feel like I was in Thailand, just a trendy neighborhood in (insert any state here), which was not a bad thing, I was just looking for more of a culture shock when I entered the RY program.

The workspace provided by RY was efficient during the day, however, for night shift it was covered with mosquitos that swarmed the vibrant lights of the outdoor bathrooms. You can imagine the bug bites that followed. To stay awake on the overnight shifts we would make a game out of swatting them with an electric, tennis-racquet-sized swatter. I did not frequent the workspace during evening hours.

Chiang Mai had many co-working spaces in cafes and restaurants that accommodate the remote worker. You could work from a different place for the entire month (maybe more) without repeating.

Chiang Mai felt easy to acclimate to, welcoming, and kind. It is no surprise why many expats call it home.

And only one mall.

Laa-gon Thailand (I will be back).

Now on to Hanoi, Vietnam!

Kob-Kuhn Kah (Thank you)

 

Notable Experiences:

Fire show part of the Thailand fun! You will find them walking down the southern beaches.

Patera Elephant Sanctuary

Thailand’s Grand Canyon (no rules, just fun, and someone always gets hurt)

Southern Thailand Beaches (Krabi, Railay, and Tonsai)

 

 



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MTA Introduction to Programming Using Java (98-388) Course Release!

by Brad - Apr 17, 2018


Today, we are excited to announce the release of our MTA Introduction to Programming Using Java (98-388) course.

MTA Introduction to Programming Using Java (98-388)

The MTA Introduction to Programming Using Java (98-388) course is excellent for someone wanting to learn how to code in Java, a powerful object-oriented programming language. This course will also help students get ready to pass the MTA 98-388 exam and improve employability prospects for any software development position requiring Java coding skills. Specifically, this course covers Java fundamentals, data types and variables, flow control, object-oriented principles, and compiling and debugging code. These concepts are covered through simulating writing code for an online store, thus adding a real-life scenario to this course.

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.



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Just a little unsure in Kuala Lumpur.

by Beth - Mar 29, 2018


Goodbye Malaysia!

Month one has come to a smooth coast. Feels like the longest month of my life (in the best way possible).

Kuala Lumpur:

Wow! What a diverse population to say the least. Muslim, Hindu, Arabic, Indian, Indonesian, and Chinese influences make up the welcoming city of Kuala Lumpur, also known as KL. KL is littered with hidden labyrinths of indoor malls, amazing diverse food stalls, and pop-up restaurants. If you needed anything at all, you would find it in a mall. Need a dentist? In the mall. Need vaccinations? In the mall. Need an Auntie Ann’s pretzel fix? In the mall. Grocery stores? You guessed it, the mall.

The bustling metropolis is home to innumerable skyscrapers reminiscent of downtown Manhattan mixed with the luxurious shops of the Las Vegas Strip.  The two most iconic buildings are the Petronas Twin Towers and the Kuala Lumpur Tower (pictured). Petronas has also become home to the most employees in KL, home to over 50,000 employees. Through interactions with the local people, I have learned that Maybank, Shell (oil and gas companies are abundant in the market), and Intel are large and sought-after employment options.

If there wasn’t a mall or skyscraper taking up real estate it was a temple. The temples (Hindu and Muslim mostly) in KL were stunning to say the least. The detail, dedication and decadence of the religious people is much to be admired. One of the first experiences I had was the religion procession, Thaipusam (pictured). Beautiful chaos, as we entered the Divine Circle. Religious devote faithful climbed almost 300 stairs with hooks in their flesh, bare feet, and 5 feet tall to the temples nestled inside a natural cave. As we, the remote year family, ascended the stairs, the amount of people exponentially grew as quickly as personal space diminished. At the entrance of the Batu Caves, we were greeted by devote Hindu’s eating hot coals to remove them from trance state, smells of warm bodies, incense, fragrant saffron, and turmeric permeate the air, American sports-like announcers chanting Malaysian blessings and the beat of the drums kept us going up what seemed to be a never-ending stair climb in 90% humidity. In the temple was not short of gift shops as they lined the inside of the cave, monkeys savoring bananas and other treats people were sharing, and chickens cooing and clucking in what seemed to be their form of praise.  My heart and my senses were filled and the energy and passion fueled my journey for the entire month in Malaysia.

Notable observations in KL: monkeys run around the city like squirrels, our accommodations were a 5 minute walk from the world’s smallest rainforest, Bikut Nannas.

The Food:

From the moment I arrived, I knew I was going to have a strong relationship with the food here. Street food street (pictured) had anything you could desire from SE Asia.  The pungent smell of durian that cuts through the air like hot steamy trash; it is more a mix of hot garbage (aka rubbish), sour garlic and a hint of pear. The local favorites were nasi lemak: a fragrant rice dish served with the most tender, slow-cooked chicken falling off the bone, covered in a sweet, spicy, and salty sauce. Eaten with your hands with creates a sensual relationship with food and those you enjoy it with. Another favorite (in which I ate far too much of) was roti with dahl. Roti is a magical tortilla style bread slathered with butter and served with, well, served with really anything as it was so versatile and delish! The tandoori chicken, unlike any tandoori chicken I have ever had. The street buffet had the best tandoori, it was charred and crisp on the outside and as you bite through the crisp outer crust of char from the open flame the internal white meat, falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. When laziness struck on the late-night work shifts we would have Uber Eats deliver some Halal, an Arabic favorite among the remote year fam.

Luckily, walking at least 5 miles a day to enjoy local events, food, or malls, helped build up an appetite without any weight gain.

The Remote Year Experience:

The walk from the accommodations to the workspace was an interesting one as you had to cross through the jungle known as bar street. The marketing tactic for the bars and restaurants was to shout at you profusely claiming they had the best drinks, food, Wi-Fi, air con (air conditioner), really anything to get to come inside. I walked down bar street nearly every day for one thing or another and thought every time, umm don’t they remember me? I walk here nearly every day. Finding a new normal did not include that walk so often I worked late nights from my apartment which was productive but could be a little lonely. Good thing I had amazing food to keep me company on those late nights.

Working night shift was an easier transition than I could even imagine. I enjoyed having my days free for exploring and had incredible support from others that had to work the same shift. It was tough as I did not see many of those who work days and could not make full use of the workspace as it would require an Uber as I did not feel safe walking home alone.

Adjusting to the culture, location, weather (mainly humidity coming from AZ where there is none), all while getting to know 34 strangers and performing the duties and functions of a full-time job. Often, we refer to time as RY time, as one mentioned is a pressure cooker. Feeling after a month of knowing our RY family, many have already become close enough to be real family. How has this only been a month?  Speaking in time-space continuum, it is amazing how much you can fit into a day while working 40 hours. Sleep, optional. While I was living my best life in KL, I didn’t feel like I was doing too much, however now that I am reminiscing through the photos… I do not know how I did it all. Month one, in the books.

Quotes Of KL:

“I am not sure what I am eating, but it is delish!”

“Where is the rooftop pool? Does it have Wi-fi?” (just to get a dose of sunshine)

“What’s the Wi-Fi? (Wi-Fi is given out more freely than water.)

Insert Jurassic Park and/or Indiana Jones theme song into all adventures.

Terima Kashi! (Thank you)

Pentronas Towers

Street food street, where I got my first Malaysian meal and Ringgit (currency)

Ascent up the stairs of the Batu Caves for Thaipusam

 



Scenario-Based Learning + Exam Readiness = Improving Employability Every Day

by Jason - Mar 13, 2018


I’m often asked, “How do you prepare a course?” That’s a loaded question, as every course is different, but I’ll share with you a few key points as to what goes into our preparing a course for you, our beloved audience, to help improve your employability every day.

First, we are all about exam readiness. WHAT we build is centered around the exam objectives for any course we are building, plain and simple. Our main goal here is to get you ready to pass the exam and achieve whatever certification you are pursuing in any course.

What I want to talk to you about today, as your humble senior instructor, is the HOW of it all, and that is what is commonly known as scenario-based learning. Here’s a quote out of an article from Massey University: “Scenario-based learning is based on the principles of situated learning theory, which argues that learning best takes place in the context in which it is going to be used, and situated cognition, the idea that knowledge is best acquired and more fully understood when situated within its context.”

To put this in our terms, we build our course material around real-life scenarios that you can use to improve your employability prospects. Here are some examples:

  • A+: You, the student, take on the role of being on-boarded at a computer repair shop, where you are taken through the A+ principles of hardware, operating systems, and troubleshooting. Within the course material, you get to practice many of these concepts while preparing for the A+ certification exams.
  • Microsoft Office: We are revamping our Office offerings, and in the revamped Word course (out later this spring), you learn Word by building two main documents: a resume and a term paper. This puts you into two real-life scenarios: resume writing and managing a project (a term paper).
  • Our programming track: In many of our programming courses, like HTML/CSS, JavaScript, and Java, the scenarios revolve around building code-based projects for small businesses, an absolutely critical skill for new and junior-level programmers. What better way to learn coding than by doing coding?

So, we have the WHAT, which is to cover the exam objectives, the HOW, which is to use scenario-based learning to cover these objectives, and that leads us to what Simon Sinek refers to in his famous TED talk “The Golden Circle,” our WHY, which is improving employability every day.

I leave you with one scenario-based example below, a clip from our A+ course, in which we use a scenario to cover the concept of customer service. Enjoy.



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Key Contributor Award winners: Always making sure we dot our “I’s” and cross our “T’s”

by Jeff - Mar 08, 2018


Today I am please to announce our Key Contributor award winners for Q4 2017: Val Deuel, Bart Giddings, Sheena Chamberlain, and Leigh Kulbacki.

Just like all our employees, they play a very important role in our company, as one of the most important aspects to our business is making sure that all of our digital employability learning solutions have the proper grammar and spelling for all our assessments, labs, and written content. They must also ensure all our video training has the quality so we always deliver an exceptional learning experience. Thanks to our awesome Quality Control team they are always there to catch all the errors and help us avoid re-work.

This past year they took it one step further by taking on transcribing and closed captioning most of our courses released in 2017. That was an amazing accomplishment as the results were transcribing 51 sessions and completing the closed captioning for 31 sessions. This resulted in a 27% increase in productivity!

Our “why” is improving employability every day. My goal is to make sure that everyone in the company knows how they impact that why. I am proud of this team as they truly know the importance of their role in our company and really stand for our core values: Ease, Value, and Trust!

Please join me and the rest of the LearnKey/Better Learning Systems family in congratulating them on this great accomplishment, and one thing is for sure: they are not going to like that I wrote this blog without them checking it before it gets posted! But what the heck, sometimes you have to go out on the edge. After all, it’s the thought that counts!



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Security+ (SY0-501) Course Released!

by Brad - Feb 21, 2018


Today, we are excited to announce the release of our Security+ (SY0-501) course.

Security+ (SY0-501)

This CompTIA certification course helps to prepare students to take and pass the SY0-501 Security+ exam and obtain the Security+ certification. This course is excellent for those looking to increase their employability prospects in security administration careers. Specific topics covered in this course include: security threats, attacks and vulnerabilities, tools and technologies, architecture and design, identity and access methods, risk management, and cryptography.

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.



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Preparation and arrival for the Job Ready Gypsy – Remote Year

by Beth - Feb 16, 2018


Remote Year Kanyini Family

 

Week one of Remote Year ends, I must remind myself that it is in fact only 1 week! After a short week of a crash course in acclimating to a new culture, new location, and total opposite time zone, I find that I am blown away that even with all those distractions, we have already created deep connections with a talented, diverse group of nomadic professionals. In our travel family of 35 people we have IT professionals, graphic designers, attorneys, HR/management and political consultants, producers, operations managers, finance professionals and entrepreneurs. The work ethic is astounding, the talent is mind-blowing, and I get an entire year with this group.

Packing:

WAY harder than I expected. How does one pack for a year?! Be warned, this is not an advising entry.

Round 1

Supplies: Bagail packing cubes, 24-inch Samsonite suitcase, and 30-liter North Face Backpack

Packed each packing cube individually, weighed them, added up to about 38 pounds. Too easy. Ready to combine that with my 8-pound suitcase should be totally fine. Oh, but wait, that is 46, must be under 20 kg which Is 44.9 pounds.

Take out two shirts and extra pair of shoes I won’t need. No problem.

Let’s get this all together now.

Everything is going my way! Room to spare in the suitcase, easy to close, this is way too easy. I lifted it up to the scale, feels a bit heavy.

Scale: 52.8 pounds. I took stuff out and it weighs more than originally?!

Round 2 Beth vs. Samsonite

Take out a pair of jeans, two more shirts, and some luxury items I enjoy (the struggle was real on that one). Sweating as if I am running a marathon in 70% humidity.

Scale: 47.2. Dear baby Jesus, please help guide me, give me strength.

I need reinforcements. “Mom, I need help!” Mom provides sound advice, that I of course, do not take, because, Yes! I DO need 7 tank tops!

Round 3

Back hurts. I am sweating. Start heeding mom’s advice.

No extras, less shirts, one bra, still tough to remove dresses, but down two more dresses, 1 skirt, really… I am not even sure what is left.

Scale: 43.6

Hallelujah! I can successfully board the plane.

Street food street, where I got my first Malaysian meal and ringgit, the local currency

Arrival Day

Immigration: My first time out of North America and I stood in line for an hour just to be asked, “are you traveling alone?” said with an awkward giggle from the immigration dude/officer. Is that normal? Seemed a bit anticlimactic. Then, wait for it, the FIRST stamp in my Passport! Wow, what an incredible experience. I feel like I accomplished something. Made the 24 hours of travel and loss of one day all worth it.

Airport: Surprisingly western. Littered with overpriced stores and souvenir shops. You know you are not in the states because of the smells of curry being carried to your nose in the humid, wet air, as if you were face-first over the hot pot of freshly cooked curry. Another shocking difference was the restroom. I was not expecting to squat but after being on a plane for almost 5 hours, any bathroom would suffice. At first, I thought it was so kind for two women to let me ahead of them in line, I thought, “they must see the emergency in my eyes.” Then I waked into the stall only to have the metaphorical wind knocked out of me in shock. Knowing I was being looked at, I acted like, oh, I got this. One thing the Army teaches you, you can pee anywhere. So, I used the “squat” toilet, only to realize as I left, there were western toilet options. The women were not allowing me to go ahead, they were waiting for the western toilet. Well, when in Asia!

Fast forward to about five days into the year: More than enough clothes, but should have brought my little bottle of Tide (MOM!) and my water filter. Could have done without 1 pair of jeans (too hot and humid). Overall, there is no way of knowing what you will need for an entire year. If the rest of the locations are like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, there will be plenty of places to buy anything you need.



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Big Hit: Know Your Talents announces Chief Flourishing Officer

by Jeff - Jan 18, 2018


Lara Skutt

I am pleased to announce a new team member, Lara Skutt, who earlier this month joined the Know Your Talents (KYT) team. Lara’s role is Chief Flourishing Officer as her passion is leadership development, coaching/counseling, and training, which has brought her to join Melanie, Sarah, and Lori’s team. Her primary focus will be on growth of the business by enabling clients to meet their goals through leadership development and employee engagement.

Lara is a seasoned senior-level HR professional with over twenty (20) years of experience across multiple corporate industries/demographics. Additionally, she has extensive experience in all aspects of HR, which will also enhance the KYT offering.  She lives in Arizona (has for over 22 years), works out of the KYT office in Scottsdale, and is the mother of three (3) amazing children. Her personal passions are family, health/wellness, and a drive for continued knowledge.

Here is a nugget…Those of you who are familiar with ProScan and the KYT offering might find it interesting to note that she has the exact same behavior/profile as Lori Coruccini.

Its a great start for 2018 and please join me in welcoming Lara to the KYT/Better Learning Systems family!



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2018: Same “Why” Be great at “Improving Employability Every Day”

by Jeff - Jan 16, 2018


As we kick off the new year at LearnKey there is alot of excitement. We recently had everyone in the company write up their 2018 goals (i.e. courses released, students gaining certification/graduation/employment,etc.) and by the looks of it, we are going to be a big year. We plan on adding new offerings (i.e. language localization) and will be enhancing some of our courses with other learning facilitators.

Each month I will share a status on one of our goals. This month it is industry certification. Last year, we exceeded our goal, having our military veteran students achieve over 658 globally recognized industry IT & Career Ready Certifications in CompTIA, Microsoft, Cisco, Adobe, Windows, IC3, and more! That was a great accomplishment, as it aligns with our true “Why,” which is Improving Employability Every Day. This is a big one for us because it is a team effort to make sure our students succeed. Next year’s goal is to exceed over 800 certifications.  Additionally, we expanded our offering of courses available through Certiport and on the GMetrix Platform, enabling thousands of other students in college and K-12 to have access to our certification courses.

We continue to see increased demand for soft/employability skills training with some of our most popular titles on Job Hunting in a Digital World, Know  Your Talents, Making a Good Impression, Resume Skills, Business Ethics on the Job, and Be Careful Before You Click!

Speaking of soft/employability skills, be sure to read the article on “The surprising thing Google learned about its employees and what it means to today’s students”.  Very interesting in 2013, Google decided to test its hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach, communicating and listening well, possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view), having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues, being a good critical thinker and problem solver, and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

These skills are in demand at every level of an organization, which is why we are dedicated to making sure our Video-Based Digital Media Library of courses has over 225 titles on those important skills.

Our next big course release is CompTIA’s Security+, coming at the end of this month. We are really excited to make that available as this is one of our signature courses. You can find more info on our 2018 course release schedule here!

Here’s to a great start in 2018 and check back next month for another update.



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Lying Down on the Job

by Jason - Dec 15, 2017


I know, I know. I haven’t been in this blog space for a while. As you can see, I’ve been lying down on the job. Well, not really. The past several weeks I’ve been doing anything but lying down as our production crew has been busy filming not one, but two new CompTIA courses: Security+, and Network+. The Security+ course, which will be out soon, is tied to the new Security+ exam, exam SY0-501. The exam covers these security topics:

  • Threats, Attacks, and Vulnerabilities
  • Technologies and Tools
  • Architecture and Design
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Risk Management
  • Cryptography

Security+, in my humble opinion, has really gained in importance for anyone who wants to be employable in an IT Security position. I’ve known companies to actually make this a requirement as a condition of employment, i.e., get the Security+ certification in the first 90 days to stay at the job.

The other major course we are working on is the new Network+ course, tied to exam N10-007. Again, a Network+ certification certainly helps employability, specifically in the area of network administration jobs. The Network+ course goes through these topics:

  • Networking Concepts
  • Infrastructure
  • Networking Operations
  • Network Security
  • Troubleshooting

This course and exam will be out early in 2018.

By the way, which concept were we filming when I was lying down here? It is one that is actually in both the Security+ and Network+ courses. And, a certain TV character named Malcolm would get it right away. That’s your hint. The answer will come in the next blog. In the meantime, with around 1400 exam objectives between the two courses, I think I will lie down here for a just a few minutes longer and rest a little before resuming production.



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