The Good “R” Word in IT: Resourcefulness

by Jason - Jun 28, 2016


Most of my blogs lately have updated you on new courses we have in the works. So today, I figured I would change things up and start this blog with a story: Nearly 20 years ago, when I was still in my rookie year in my Information Technology career, I was sent on a business trip far, far away from my home base (well, not that far, but a plane and a time zone change was involved so, far enough).

I was there to do some software installations and software support, as was my role in this company. When I arrived, I was handed my to-do list for the day. The first half of the list looked fine. The second half of the list was all Windows Server tasks. One problem: I barely knew Windows Server existed much less have the ability to actually do anything with it. And being several hundred miles from home, I couldn’t just say “not my thing” and walk away. And they did not have an IT person on staff.

So what was I to do? Back then, I couldn’t just whip out my smartphone or tablet and start looking for how-tos or solutions online. And I knew that making a wrong move on Windows Server could take down the server. So I did not want to make any mistakes there.

That very day was the day I discovered a very important word in the IT business: Resourcefulness! I immediately thought “what resources do I HAVE”, not “what do I not have”. My resource: the lead network and server administrator back at the home office. I called him up, explained the situation, and after he laughed about sending a rookie to do a non-rookie’s job, he spent, off and on, two hours on the phone with me, walking me through, step-by-step, what to watch for and what to do. As a result, I got through almost every item on that list that day before I had to catch my plane home.

Continuing this, over my first year at this company, I made it a point to never say “I can’t do this.” I always tried to be as resourceful as I could be to tackle user problems and new challenges. This got me a new position and a substantial raise just one year into the job.

Now, what I have shared with you is just one of many examples where I have had to stop, think about how I could be resourceful when trying to solve a problem, and then use whatever resources I have. 18 years ago, it was a phone. Now, it’s a smartphone or tablet and a lot of searching and testing (and, yes, the occasional human contact, too).

No matter how new or not-so-new you are as an IT professional, every situation where you don’t know the solution right away gives you two choices: To be resourceful, or not to be resourceful. Are you the one who is willing to find a solution (and of course, verify before implementing it if you can), or, the one who says “no can do” or worse, you try something and make the problem worse?

There is no reason to not be resourceful nowadays. You have search engines, tutorials on YouTube, LearnKey courses, white papers, forums, and a whole host of other avenues to use. And, one of the best ways to be resourceful is to befriend those who are experienced in your field of work. Figure out who is willing to share knowledge and make those people your best “work” friends.

If there is one thing I can say from experience and observation in my almost-20 years of being in the IT industry, it’s this: Those who demonstrate resourcefulness move up the ladder from position to position and salary scale to salary scale. Those who aren’t either stay where they are, or they find themselves looking elsewhere for work.

So, no matter where you are in your IT career, remember the “R” word: Resourcefulness!



Making the experience fun producing IC3 Spark Certification Training!

by Jeff - Jun 16, 2016


Filming Spark

Who says you can’t have fun producing certification courses! At LearnKey we take great pride ensuring our courses map to objectives, cover what is in the certification exam, and that our students gain the knowledge they need to succeed. Producing and publishing content is taken very seriously as our goal is to provide our students with the ultimate learning experience.

That said, our learning and development team was thrilled to start producing this week (June 13th 2016) the IC3 Spark training for middle school age children, which maps to the Certiport Exam. This course will provide them with a solid foundation in digital concepts that covers objectives spanning basic computing skills, key applications, and the use of the Internet. Our partner Certiport announced the release of this exam last year and we are excited to be producing this in video, along with workbooks, projects, and assessments so teachers have all the resources they need.

Best of all our production team can really leverage their creative skills so this younger student demographic finds the course easy to understand, engaging, and helps them improve their computer skills! This program will be offered exclusively through our Certiport & GMetrix partnership making it the best of the best when it comes to training, access to GMetrix practice tests, and certification. Be on the lookout for this program to be released in late July, just in time for the 2016 fall school year!



Updated Course Release Schedule: A Preview of the Second Half of 2016

by Jason - Jun 08, 2016


One year ago, I arrived at LearnKey as the new, in-house Senior Instructor. And over the past year, I’ve filled this space with many blogs about current and upcoming courses. You may wonder, “How do you all figure out which courses to build?” Or, you may not be wondering that at all. But, one of my duties as Senior Instructor is to take in many different factors, such as industry trends, technologies in hot demand, client needs, and other factors typical to a company attempting to produce world-class certification courses and other types of courses, such as the character-building soft skills courses we released last week.

And with any schedule, sometimes things happen which cause a little shifting around of things schedule-wise. This is kind of like a chef thinking a recipe is great and then realizing a few tweaks need to be made here and there (not that I would really know much about that given my limited cooking repertoire). But in the computer training business, the only real constant schedule-wise is the frequent adjustments of the schedule. In our case, that means the course release schedule.

So what are the specifics in this schedule adjustment announcement, you ask? Well, we had one Cisco course in the works, Cisco Implementing Cisco Network Security (IINS) for exam 210-260, but with Cisco’s announcement of a new version of their Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices (ICND) exams, that number of courses jumped from one Cisco course to three Cisco courses.

This combined with a few other changes in industry trends and certifications, along with our quest to always put out courses to give you the job-ready skills needed to succeed in this ever-changing technology landscape, has caused the following adjustments in the course release schedule. Here is what the rest of 2016 looks like, broken down by quarter:

Summer 2016:

  • Excel 2016
  • Word 2016
  • PowerPoint 2016
  • IC3 Spark – You will hear plenty about this course in the coming weeks
  • Cisco ICND Part 1 (Version 3) for exam 100-105.

Fall 2016:

  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) HTML5 Application Development Fundamentals (for exam 98-375)
  • MTA Cloud Fundamentals (for exam 98-369)
  • Cisco IINS (as detailed above)
  • Cisco ICND Part 2 (Version 3) for exam 200-105
  • Adobe Certified Associate Test Prep series for the Creative Cloud 2015 versions of Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and InDesign

Winter 2016:

  • Outlook 2016
  • Access 2016

Now, you may wonder “Where did the big new programming track go?” The programming track will be the big series we roll out early in 2017. Microsoft, as a matter of fact, is revamping their programming certification track. As they complete that process, we will pick that up and bring you a fun, interactive, and world-class programming track where you will learn by doing.

You can always stay updated on the latest detailed course release schedule here:
http://www.learnkey.com/elearning/PDFs/LearnKey_Release_Schedule.pdf



LearnKey Expands Character Building Soft Skills Courses!

by Brad - Jun 01, 2016


We’re pleased to announce that in partnership with Human Relations Media, we’ve released the following new character building soft skills courses:

  • Digital Smarts: Behaving Ethically Online
  • Digital Smarts: Protecting Your Online Reputation and Safety
  • Your Reputation: Enhancing It, Repairing It
  • I Was Cyberbullied

Digital Smarts: Behaving Ethically Online
Cyber ethics and respect for others online are critical skills to acquire for today’s connected teens. The message of this teen-centered video is that all students have a responsibility to behave ethically online and to know how to react when others behave in inappropriate ways. Teen hosts discuss the ethics of issues such as distributing unflattering pictures or posts aimed at harming someone’s reputation and the importance of respecting the privacy of others. They emphasize the importance of respecting the safety of others and becoming an upstander rather than a bystander when witnessing abusive behavior online.

Digital Smarts: Protecting Your Online Reputation and Safety
Cyber reputation, security and safety have become important topics for students to understand and master. This engaging video program encourages students to think critically about the opportunities and risks provided by their many digital devices. Real-life dangers from predators, spammers and identity thieves are revealed through teen interviews and accounts from experts in cyber security and safety. Students learn why it is important to choose passwords that are hard to guess and why they should not share their passwords with others.
Students are challenged to think about ways that digital technology can be used to enhance or damage their reputations. Teens talk about how compromising photos and other postings online became part of their permanent digital footprint. The video provides specific advice about how to protect students’ privacy, security and online reputations.

Your Reputation: Enhancing It, Repairing It
For middle schoolers, fitting in, being popular, having friends, and getting along with teachers is all important. Whether they are aware of it or not, the opinions and perceptions of peers, parents and teachers all contribute to a young teen’s reputation—or the way others see them. Through the use of acted out vignettes, young viewers will understand the power of having a good reputation versus the pain of having a bad one. Program also gives pointers on how to repair a bad reputation which often takes a long time to achieve. Program includes a special section on one’s online reputation and some of the pitfalls of social networking.

I Was Cyberbullied
This program presents three real-life stories from kids who were targets of cyberbullying attacks and offers viewers practical suggestions for how to avoid being victimized by this new, rapidly-spreading type of bullying. Each story highlights important tips such as: only post the type of information online that you would be comfortable with others seeing; remember that once an email or photo is posted online, you can’t take it back; avoid responding to vicious texts or emails that might escalate a situation further; and know when to turn to a trusted adult for help. Renowned “bully coach” Joel Haber leads a discussion on how serious and damaging cyberbullying can be, and touches upon recent cases of children committing suicide after being cyberbullied. This timely program will strike a chord with all viewers—those who may have been victimized as well as those who may have thought that cyberbullying was “no big deal.”

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.



Micro-Learning: Is your organization leveraging it?

by Jeff - Jun 01, 2016


In today’s fast-paced world the ability of learning quickly, known as “Microlearning,” is becoming a skill within itself.

The definition of Microlearning (a.k.a. micro learning or micro-learning) is an emergent learning strategy known for quickly closing skill and knowledge gaps. It seems to be an ideal instructional approach for many situations because information changes quickly.

That is why LearnKey is making sure that our IT & Career Ready courseware enables you to do just that – learn quickly. At the same time one of our strengths is thoroughly covering the core objectives no matter what topic. It could be how to configure a BIOS through our CompTIA A+ 220-901 exam course, how to create a numbered or bulleted list in our Microsoft Word 2016 course, how to do slide transitions in our Microsoft PowerPoint 2016 course, or how to set-up a Microsoft account on a mobile device through one of our MTA mobility courses.

If your organization isn’t already leveraging microlearning techniques this article from TalentLMS covers seven (7) reasons why your organization should, and at LearnKey we fully agree that this is the future of learning.



Cisco News Alert: Exam Changes Coming!

by Jason - May 18, 2016


Here’s a story for you all: While trying to hustle out of the house yesterday to get to work and continue filming our upcoming PowerPoint 2016 course, I got an email message from a coworker asking me “are we up to speed on the upcoming CCENT and CCNA changes?” My first reaction was “Am I…what? What changes?”

Understand that, as the LearnKey Senior Instructor, one of my duties is to scan the Microsoft, CompTIA, and Cisco websites for exam changes (and I do this every week to 10 days). In fact, I was just on the Cisco website last week. I must have been in between scans because, sure enough, I went to the Cisco website, and, there they were, announcements on new exams, and, more importantly, retirement dates for current Cisco exams.

So, after some further investigation, here is what we discovered: First, no Cisco certifications are changing. But, several exams are indeed being replaced. Here is the story, in a nutshell:

Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices (ICND) Part 1: The current exam is exam 100-101. The new exam is exam 100-105 (and yes, it is out there). The last day to test on exam 100-101 is August 20, 2016.

Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices (ICND) Part 2: The current exam is exam 200-101. The new exam is exam 200-105 (and yes, it is out there, too). The last day to test on exam 200-101 is September 24, 2016.

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching: The current exam is exam 200-120. The new exam is exam 200-125 (also out). The last day to test on exam 200-120 is August 20, 2016.

What has not changed: The ICND Part 1 exam will still get you the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification. And, the ICND Part 1 plus the ICND Part 2 exams will still get you the CCNA certification, with the option of just taking the 200-125 exam instead.

With this information, we at LearnKey have already gone to work in updating our Cisco curriculum. In fact, look for an updated ICND Part 1 exam course early this fall, followed by an updated Cisco Implementing Network Security (IINS) course for exam 210-260 (another new recent exam), followed by an updated ICND Part 2 exam course. I will have some details of these courses in a future blog entry. In the meantime, here is the link to the details on these changes: https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/community/ccna-rs-certification.

For now, those of you studying for the CCENT or CCNA Routing and Switching exam have about three months to complete your certifications under the current exam versions.



Leaders Making Contributions That Make a Difference!

by Jeff - May 16, 2016


Leadership sometimes requires people to get out of their comfort zones and when you ask them to do that, it’s really sometimes asking them to take a leap of faith. They have to trust you, they have to take on additional responsibilities, they have to look past the short-term benefits and make sacrifices for the good of the company and believe in the long-term value. Just over a year ago, I asked two people in our Better Learning Systems/LearnKey organization to take that leap of faith with me to believe in something that had never been done and to trust the people and process we were about to embrace, and I can honestly say that the successful partnership LearnKey has recently solidified with GMetrix and Certiport it has allot to do with key contributions from Kim Johnson and Wyett Ihler.

So it gives me great pleasure to announce that both Kim and Wyett are the recipients of our 2016 Key Contributor award voted by their peers! They have truly displayed our core values Ease, Value and Trust throughout this entire project that has required 100% of their efforts for the past twelve (12) months.

Kim Johnson & Wyett Ihler

In addition to their day-to-day responsibilities, both of them have worked together in tandem to not only successfully roll out our new product, but do it in a way that is good for the company. The work required migrating our certification courseware through an entire reformatting process, quality control testing, sales re-training, and learning a new delivery system. They did it with passion and a “can-do attitude.” They had a lot of help from other LearnKey team members and that required getting those team members to buy into the same leap of faith, that this partnership is going to benefit students, teachers, and learners through providing the ultimate learning experience.

Congratulations to both of them for their commitment to our core values!



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Our Third Office 2016 Course: PowerPoint 2016

by Jason - May 11, 2016


Hello there! With all of the activity the past couple of weeks here, from the release of the A+ 220-902 series to the release of the Photoshop CC 2015 Test Prep course, I haven’t had the space to tell you about the third of our “major” three Office 2016 courses, PowerPoint 2016, due out this summer, along with Excel 2016 and Word 2016.

The PowerPoint 2016 course will have some features similar to the Excel 2016 and Word 2016 courses, in that the course will contain real-life examples businesses use (in fact, we are using the same fictitious business we used in the Excel 2016 and Word 2016 courses) and will help one prepare for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exam for PowerPoint 2016.

This course will have several hours of video training, a large assortment of practice labs, a project workbook with practice exercises, and pre-assessment and post-assessment tests to help you learn valuable skills not just for the MOS exam, but to be job-ready for any position needing PowerPoint skills.

There is one subtle difference with this course when compared to Excel 2016 or Word 2016 though, and that is for this course, we will, for the most part, be building a single presentation from start to finish, covering the important elements of PowerPoint along the way. This is a slight contrast to the Excel and Word courses, where in those courses we used many different files to cover the concepts for those programs.

And before I leave you today, I would like to share with you my favorite new feature for PowerPoint 2016: The Screen Recording feature, found on the Insert tab. This feature allows you to, when on a PowerPoint slide, actually record video of what you do on the screen and embed that video into your presentation. This is a great way to show a coworker (or that relative who always calls you with a computer problem) how to do something, step-by-step through video. Quite often, a video will explain things in a better fashion than will a step-by-step manual. Which would explain one reason we do video-based training around here, wouldn’t it?



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Learn From an Expert: Jason Manibog and Excel 2016

by Beau - May 04, 2016


What runs through your mind when you think about Microsoft Excel? Personally, my relationship with Excel has been complicated and ranges from avoiding it at all costs to using it excessively. I have found Excel to be a useful tool for tracking personal finances and information, as well as making lists and daily schedules. I know many people may feel apprehensive about learning Excel, so I thought, who better to provide some positive insight than Jason Manibog our in-house IT expert? Recently, I visited with Jason and asked him if he could give us some advice that would be beneficial to new users of Excel. Whether you are learning Excel purely for certification purposes, or for more efficient personal use, be sure to read Jason’s feedback below.

 

  1. What advice would you give to a user new to Excel? I would start with (of course) viewing our Excel 2016 course! But to start working with Excel? I would start with building a simple file or two for something you can relate to, like a phone list of family and friends, or a budget or expenses sheet with calculations. Most importantly, make the files YOUR files as in something you can relate to.
  2. What type of student did you have in mind when you were creating this course? Someone trying to learn Excel and perhaps looking toward passing the Microsoft Office (MOS) 2016 Excel exam. And, someone who is trying to get important job-ready skills in Excel. The practice files are really geared toward the job-ready aspect of training.
  3. If a student has very little experience using Excel, how would you recommend they start using our training? Start with the very first part of the course and make sure  to mix the video training with the practice exercises in the project workbook which accompanies the course.
  4. What are some common uses for Excel that people can use their new Excel skills for? The list is large. I would say lists, budgets, expense sheets, workout logs, golf scores (had to throw that in), or anything else that involves building a list and then, when needed, analyzing that data through charts and calculations.
  5. What are some of the new features in Excel 2016? There are a few, but the two which stand out to me are the “Tell Me” feature, which I brought up in a previous blog. The “Tell Me” feature allows one to search for a “How-To” and then get the actual tasks to do. For example, I can do a “Tell Me” search on “Get the Average of data” and it will lead me right to the AVERAGE function. Also, for those of you who like charts, there are several new chart types in Excel 2016, so analyze away!


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Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 Test Prep Released!

by Brad - Apr 28, 2016


Today we released the second of our exam prep courses, and the first test prep course for Adobe CC 2015. Our Photoshop CC 2015 Test Prep course is a complementary resource to go along with the Photoshop CC course, authored by LearnKey Expert Chad Chelius. Although the Photoshop CC course readies you for the Photoshop CC exam, there are new objectives and types of test questions which are covered in the Photoshop CC 2015 Test Prep course. LearnKey Senior Instructor Jason Manibog takes you through these changes, so you will have the tools you need to confidently pass the Photoshop CC 2015 exam.

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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