My Adventures With Excel…Part 1

by Chad - Apr 21, 2014


Hi, my name is Chad. I am the Accounts Receivable and Human Resources Manager at LearnKey. My adventures with Excel actually started many years ago. I have used Excel in school, work, and home since Office 95.

Late last year, I decided to prove my knowledge in both Excel and Word and get MOS certified in each. I kept putting it off because end-of-year is a busy time for me. Then earlier this year our CEO, Jeff Coruccini, asked each of us to get at least one certification by the end of May. He even offered us a bonus for each certification that we achieve. And I thought, “This will be the easiest money that I ever made. I know Excel and Word. I can pass these tests easily.” I even teamed up with Kim Johnson, Director of Client Services and Marketing. We could study together and pass the Excel exam…piece of cake.

I started to watch LearnKey’s Excel 2013 training, but decided that I already knew Excel, and I could just watch the parts that I am unfamiliar with to brush up on my skills. I watched a few sections of training and did a few labs.

As test day approached, I still felt confident that I would pass. I’ve taken and passed CompTIA’s A+ and Network+ exams, a couple of Windows 2000 exams, Certiport’s IC3 exam, and the QuickBooks exam. I even passed the HR Institute’s Professional in Human Resources exam which is the hardest exam I have ever taken. My coworkers asked if I was nervous. I confidently told them, “No.”

On test day, I went into our in-house testing center and signed in with our proctor. As I started the exam, my confidence remained high. I worked my way through the test, but soon my confidence began to falter. I thought I was familiar with formulas, but I encountered formulas that I have never used. Concatenate? I don’t even know what that means. How do I use a formula when I don’t even know what the word means? Well, Excel kind of walks you through formulas, so I think I figured it out.

But, wait…where did all my time go? I’m not finished. I rushed through as much of the test as I could in the few minutes remaining. When the clock ran out, I anxiously awaited my test score. Well, I’m sure you can guess why there will be a Part 2 to this blog post. I FAILED. I immediately thought, “What? I have never failed a certification exam. That has to be wrong.” But, yes. I failed. I scored a 691. I needed a 700.

I decided to go back to the Excel 2013 training. Thank goodness for LearnKey’s self-paced training. I can fit it into my schedule when I have some free time. I will soon take the Excel exam again and this time I will pass. I will let you know how it turns out in My Adventures with Excel…Part 2.



New Course Release – Excel 2013 Formulas

by Beau - Apr 17, 2014


Like many people, I use Microsoft Excel everyday. I use it to make lists, to keep track of expenses, record sales statistics, create travel itineraries, and plan trade shows. I find Excel to be one of the best and easiest ways for me to keep track of information. Those of you who have used Excel before know that there is more than one way to accomplish a task in Excel. There are even formulas that you can use to accomplish tasks faster and more accurately.

Our newest course release is our Excel 2013 Formulas course. This course should be used in addition to our Excel 2013 course and will teach students about the formulas they can use to help them in their everyday use of Excel.

Excel 2013 Formulas

Join LearnKey expert Michael Meskers in our new Excel Formulas course. If you use Microsoft Excel for data analysis, reporting, or day-to-day tracking, this course will teach you helpful formulas and hints that will bring ease and accuracy to your work.

Our hope is that through our courseware we may continually provide learners with the guidance, preparation, and skills they need to succeed.

For more information visit our website.



LearnKey and the Heartbleed Bug

by Brad - Apr 11, 2014


If you have paid attention to news in the IT world over the last week, you may heard of the Heartbleed bug. The Heartbleed bug exploits a vulnerability in certain versions of OpenSSL. It allows attackers to gain access to usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information, even though a site’s address bar displays the letters “https” or a padlock icon. Heartbleed is a serious vulnerability, and millions of users worldwide could be affected. If you have purchased courseware through LearnKey’s website, you may be concerned that your information has been compromised.

This is not the case. Learnkey uses a tool called FoxyCart to process transactions on our web site. FoxyCart has thoroughly checked their systems and have assured us they are not affected by this bug.

Though our systems are unaffected, you may still be vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. Several large companies have been affected, including several popular social media sites and search engines. If you even suspect your information has been compromised, you should think about changing your passwords. ConnectSafely.org has a list of tips for strong, secure passwords. Some of these tips include:

  • Don’t use just one password
  • Create passwords that are easy for you to remember, but hard for others to guess
  • Make your password at least 8 characters long
  • Include numbers, capital letters, and symbols
  • Don’t use dictionary words
  • Don’t post your password in plain site

For more information on affected sites, check out CNET’s list of the top 100 sites across the Web.



Understanding Image Usage Rights

by Brad - Apr 04, 2014


Disclaimer: The contents of this article are meant as a guide only, and should not be construed as expert legal advice on copyright law. Any specific questions about copyright and intellectual property rights should be referred to a lawyer with expertise in United States copyright law. Copyright laws differ slightly from country to country, so a lawyer familiar with International copyright laws may also be required.

Product or service names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners. Their inclusion in this article should not be construed as an endorsement by LearnKey or its affiliates.

Imagine you are working on a project for a major client. You’ve spent days getting the design just right and now you’re looking for that perfect image to make the project complete. You search through your image library, but nothing feels right. You try image after image, but they all fail to meet your expectations.

We’ve all been there. Like most designers, you probably turn to the Internet. A quick Internet search yields the perfect image for your project. You visit the website, download the image, and turn your finished project over to the client. The client is happy, your boss is happy, and life couldn’t be better, right?

Wrong. You forgot something.

That image you downloaded and used in your project belongs to someone else. You had no legal right to use that image and now you, your company, and your client find yourselves in court for violating someone’s intellectual property rights.

But the image was on the Internet, so it’s free for anyone to use, right?

Wrong again. Unless the image is in the public domain, any image posted to the Internet is automatically protected by United States copyright law, with or without a copyright notice. Even sharing that image on your Facebook page without permission is a violation of the author’s legal rights. While some claims of copyright violation are more difficult to enforce than others, any legal trouble can mean bad news for a designer. Your company may survive a lawsuit, but your job and reputation likely will not.

So how do you avoid this type of situation?

The first thing you can do is avoid using images found in an Internet search. While some of these images are either public domain or specially licensed for commercial work, most are not. A better approach is to subscribe to a stock photo service such as iStock or Shutterstock. Services such as these allow almost unrestricted use of their photos for either a monthly fee or a per-photo fee.

If money is an issue, there are many sites which offer free photos, but the image quality and resolution is usually not the same as those found through a subscription service. Sites like morgueFile and Wikimedia Commons offer free access to thousands of photos, many of which are restriction-free or require only that you provide attribution to the photographer. Also, with the exception of government trademarks and logos, images created by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person’s official duties are not subject to copyright.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to pay attention to an image’s license. Many artists have licensed their work with a Creative Commons license, allowing others to use their photos with specific restrictions. If you can’t find an image’s license, you should probably assume it is not available for use.



New Course Release – Routing and Switching Fundamentals 2013 Part II

by Beau - Apr 02, 2014


Last month I posted about our production team’s goal to release two courses every month. I am excited to announce that they met that goal! Last week we released our Routing and Switching Fundamentals 2013 Part II course. This course is the second part to our Routing and Switching Fundamentals 2013 Part I we released earlier this year. Our Routing and Switching Fundamentals 2013 Part II course will prepare students to take exam 200-101 ICND2 and will test a students skills in LAN switching technologies, troubleshooting, and other technical skills that are essential in obtaining the certification.

Routing and Switching Fundamentals 2013 Part II

In LearnKey’s Routing and Switching Fundamentals 2013 Part II course, users will gain the skills necessary to prepare for and take exam 200-101 ICND2. Users will learn VLSM, IPv6, OSPF and EIGRP protocols as well as learning to use access lists using NAT and DHCP. This course also covers 2800 and 3800 routers using various standard protocols and how ACL’s are used to protect networks. At the completion of this course users will be prepared for the CCNA Routing and Switching certification.

Our hope is that through our courseware we may continually provide learners with the guidance, preparation, and skills they need to succeed.

For more information visit our website.



CompTIA’s CASP – A Fast Track to an IA Career?

by Brian - Mar 28, 2014


As the Veteran Services Manager at LearnKey, I work with Veterans from all over the world who are looking for ways to get into the security side of IT when whey separate from the military. Everyone knows about the CISSP certification and what that means to those who are looking to go big in an IA (Information Assurance) career. Everyone looks at the benefits of the CISSP yet they also know that it comes with an extensive exam. Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-CISSP and we help a lot of Veterans to achieve that level of certification. I do, however, want to talk about the CompTIA CASP certification and how it can jump-start the IA career you have been dreaming of.

The Advanced Security Practitioner certification from CompTIA (CASP) is a relative newcomer to the IA world. It is CompTIA’s first certification at the professional level and it was designed to fill the gap between their Security+ and the ISC2 CISSP certifications. The CISSP is often described as being a “mile wide and an inch deep” which perfectly describes every manager I have ever worked for. Yes, the CISSP is a management level certification which is great, but probably not the place you will likely start out in your new career. The CASP on the other hand is where the rubber hits the road. It includes the skills and objectives needed to keep everything running with the good guys on the inside and the bad guys put out in the cold. Here is a great video that CompTIA put together to illustrate what I am talking about:

CASP covers the latest in cryptographic applications, vulnerabilities, virtual storage, secure DNS, network design, firewalls, risk management, VoIP, and more. Those who possess the CASP certification work on the front lines, protecting and defending their networks. This is certainly the reason why the DoD directive 8570 was recently updated and they pushed the CASP certification up to the mid and high levels within their baseline approval structure (http://iase.disa.mil/eta/iawip/content_pages/iabaseline.html).

Although the CASP exam is not easy, it is much less strenuous of an exam than the CISSP. It also doesn’t come with the difficult-to-prove prerequisites. Listen to what Tom Carpenter, published author and consultant, has to say about the CASP certification and what it means to you:

The bottom line here is that both certifications are great but you really need to consider taking things in a logical order. I am excited to help our Veterans to (metaphorically) kick down the doors between them and a great career in IA, starting with the CASP certification.



2014 CTE Awards Recognition Ceremony – United Federation of Teachers, NYC

by Jared - Mar 24, 2014


Alex Bell addressing the CTE audience

LearnKey was pleased to be included this year in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Recognition Ceremony put on by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). The UFT is a union of professionals that supports and is committed to strengthening their communities, their profession, and the lives of their members and students. This annual ceremony recognizes teachers that are the very best educators in their particular field of expertise.

This annual event happens around the same time as the Academy Awards, and I now understand why. These teachers, paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, and other professionals are the very best in what they do, just like the actors that get the coveted “Oscar” at the Academy Awards!

These professionals are directly involved with touching a student’s life and helping them realize their goals. Many students that these experts mentor gain meaningful skills and ultimately a real world certification that applies directly to a career. NYC offers many certifications in multiple areas of transportation, the medical sciences, information technologies, graphic design and desktop publishing, and many more that are all recognized on this extraordinary evening.

Alex Bell, Sterling Roberson, and Emma Mendez

LearnKey was fortunate enough to be involved with “THE” information technology teacher named Alex Bell. Alex has been teaching computer repair for years and is one of the best teachers in the world as far as getting students certified in CompTIA’s A+ Certification. Alex has been familiar with the LearnKey training for years and will have a big say in how LearnKey will supplement the classroom instruction with hands on projects, lesson plans, labs, and activities that all point to the ultimate goal of certification. Alex has a 100% pass rate and has had for 12 years and that is why we can say “THE”.

LearnKey is a part of a larger business family as well. Better Learning Systems (BLS) is our parent company and “Know Your Talents” is the behavioral arm of our business that assists teachers, counselors, administrators dig down to the behavioral level to see why people do what they do. This “Know Your Talents” tool truly helps individuals figure out what they would truly succeed at in life. Emma Mendez is one of the most extraordinary guidance counselors in NYC who truly focuses on where a student wants to go and helps them realize their dreams. This KYT tool helps counselors assess quickly and with pinpoint accuracy how to steer and guide these wonderful kids down career pathways that fit with their interests and personalities. Emma is truly remarkable and instrumental in helping other guidance counselors all over NYC unlock the potential in every student.

Alex Bell, Sterling Roberson, and Emma Mendez posing for the camera

Many students across NYC are so bogged down with “real life” that they need a blessing like Alex and Emma to enter their lives and help them succeed and reach their dreams!

BLS and LearnKey will continue to support the UFT and the CTE programs in New York City Schools.

Thanks Alex and Emma for making us an integral part of this successful equation!!!


Alexander C. Bell – His passion, dedication, and belief that every student can and should be positioned for success is second to none. No one puts in the dedication Mr. Bell does to achieve the pass rates his students achieve every year. Thank you for helping students fulfill their dreams through better learning and providing them with leadership, mentorship, and wonderful guidance.

Emelia “Emma” Mendez – Emma demonstrates a vision of leaving “no rock unturned” in seeking resources, learning systems, and passionate people to help create a valued added support system for students so they can achieve their dreams. Thank you for demonstrating that in good will and always reminding everyone: the student comes first.



New Course Release – Windows Server 2012 Administrator

by Beau - Mar 20, 2014


Our production team has a goal to release TWO courses every month. That is a spectacular goal and one that the entire LearnKey team works together to accomplish. With the release of our new Windows Server 2012 Administrator course earlier this week, we are one step closer to accomplishing this goal. As the first in a series of Windows Server courses we will be releasing in  2014, Windows Server 2012 Administrator will prepare users to take exam 70-411 and ensure they have the skills necessary to manage and maintain a Windows Server infrastructure.

Windows Server 2012 Administrator

Join LearnKey expert Jason Manibog as he takes you through the Windows Server 2012 Administrator  course. Users will learn to manage and configure Active Directory, NPS infrastructure, and configuration file and print services. Users will also learn to deploy, manage, and maintain servers along with other skills and knowledge needed to be prepared to take 70-411.

Our hope is that through our courseware we may continually provide learners with the guidance, preparation, and skills they need to succeed.

For more information visit our website.

 



Beau Knows LearnKey!

by Jeff - Mar 17, 2014


Need a trade show coordinated? How about a marketing white paper? Or updated course catalog and better yet- how about travel arrangements? Those are key areas of our company and we are fortunate enough to have Beau Shakespear handle those duties or shall I say “wear all those hats”  with a “can do” attitude and great pride in his work. It is for that reason and the way he demonstrates our company’s core values that he is the recipient of our March 2014 Better Learning Systems employee of the month!

As our Marketing and Tradeshow Coordinator Beau has developed strong organizational skills and really taken control in communicating our key messaging for students, teachers and veterans. Our leadership team can count on Beau to be one step ahead of us at all times when it comes to key marketing and support activities. Kim Johnson, his manager, had this to say regarding his nomination:

“Over the past few months Beau coordinated a major redesign of our LearnKey.com website that has made it easier to navigate, find information that is informative and much needed.  I am so proud of how he went about completing such a major task and how he has adapted with managing multiple projects, meeting deadlines at all times”.

Our core values are built around ease, value and trust. Beau exemplifies these in how easy it is to work with him, the value his contributions bring and trust he builds with the way he goes about doing his job. Way go to Beau!

As always, here’s a Q and A on some fun facts about Beau:

1. How many siblings do you have? 2 brothers, 1 sister

2. What is your favorite movie?  Baby Mamma – This could be because my wife is pregnant. But you can never go wrong with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

3. What is your favorite band? Couldn’t name a favorite band. But currently I am loving Happy by Pharrell Williams.

4. What is your favorite vacation spot? Disneyland

5. What was your high school’s mascot? Cowboys

6. What is the weirdest combination of foods you have eaten? One time in Mexico I ate crickets with spice on them. They were crunchy.

7. What is/was the name of your favorite pet? Tramp my dog.

8. What was your first car? 1989 golden Astro Van.

9. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? Italy or Ireland

10. Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump, zip line, or parasail? I have been sky diving and zip lining. But I would go zip lining again in a heartbeat. It was so much fun.

11. What is the funniest saying you have heard working here?  Some things are worth dying for, and one of those things is gluten. YOLO!

12. If you could eat dinner with anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why? I would like to eat with whichever ancestor was the closest to William Shakespeare and ask them how/if I am related to William Shakespeare. Then I would finally have an answer when people ask me “Are you related to William Shakespeare?”

Please join me in congratulating Beau for this great accomplishment and thank you once more Beau for all the great work you do and how you go about doing it.

 

Jeff



The Power of Certification

by Brad - Mar 13, 2014


Sometimes it’s good to take a morning away . . . away from the office, away from the desk, away from the computer.

Tuesday morning, I did just that. I took a morning away from LearnKey to speak to the Web Design class at Parowan High School in Parowan, Utah.

My wife is a student teacher at Parowan High School, and when her mentor teacher learned that I work as a Web Designer she asked if I would be willing to come talk to the class. She wanted someone in the local community to give her students a “real world” perspective on the concepts they are studying in class.

Presenting to the students at Parowan High School

The world tells us that we can become anything we want to be. Therefore, the world tells us that anyone can become a web designer. The world often fails to mention that while everyone can become a web designer, not everyone will become a good web designer. Like any other profession, to become a good web designer a person must put in a lot of hard work and dedication (a little bit of natural artistic talent doesn’t hurt either).

As an artistic professional (yes, web design is an art form), I can’t always remember the fundamentals of designing a good website. As in many other professions, the elements of good design became instinctual over time and I subconsciously implement them in every design I create. As a result, I had to re-learn the proper terms for things that have become second nature to me. I had to re-educate myself before I could properly give a presentation on the elements of a good design. LearnKey’s Web Site Design Course provides a great introduction to these important concepts and teaches students how to use the tools necessary to succeed in a web design career.

Education is a large part of what it takes to succeed in any field of employment. Even so, with the large number of people looking for work, a proper education may not be enough to set you apart from other job seekers. It’s the seemingly simple things that set candidates apart, things like extra training and industry certifications.

At LearnKey, we understand the need to rise above the competition. Many of our courses are geared toward preparing students for certification, whether they’re interested in the Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, or CompTIA’s A+ Certification. Our primary goal is to provide quality expert-led training that will enable students to get certified at a pace that works for them. LearnKey’s courseware is carefully mapped to exam objectives, with project manuals and practice tests to reinforce concepts taught in the training.

I guess even on my morning away I couldn’t stay away from LearnKey or its mission.

Thanks again to Deveny Pace and Nicole Washburn for allowing me to take up their valuable class time.



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