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!


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.



CompTIA A+ (220-901 and 220-902) Series Released!

by Brad - Apr 26, 2016


Today we are excited to announce the release of our A+ (220-901 and 220-902) Series courses. Authored by LearnKey expert Jason Manibog, LearnKey’s A+ (220-901 and 220-902) Series includes the four domains that are covered in CompTIA exam 220-901 and the five domains that are covered in CompTIA exam 220-902. This series thoroughly covers the objectives in each domain and will prepare students for A+ exams 220-901 and 220-902. The A+ (220-901 and 220-902) Series includes one complete series course comprised of two series courses broken into nine domains:

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.



Microsoft Word: Our Second Office 2016 Course

by Jason - Apr 13, 2016


Hello again, everyone! Last week, I told you all about the Office 2016 series of courses we are building here at LearnKey and, specifically, I mentioned what we have in store for the Excel 2016 course.

Today, I want to tell you a little about the second course in the Office 2016 series, Word 2016. Microsoft Word has been the standard-bearer for word processing programs for well over 20 years now. And Word 2016 has many of the same new features the other Office programs have, such as the Tell Me feature (to get fast how-to help on tasks), and the ability to collaborate real-time with others on documents.

For our Word 2016 course, we are going to take the same approach we took for Excel 2016 in that this course will help you get ready to pass the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) 2016 exam for Word and get you important, job-ready skills needed for using Microsoft Word in the workplace. This course has something for everyone from a true beginner in Microsoft Word all the way up to those who are experienced in Word and looking to round out their knowledge of Word. Similar to the Excel course, we will be looking at Word through the eyes of a company and how it uses Word on a day-to-day basis to get documents created and formatted, add tables and lists to documents, and, when necessary, add graphics to documents. Which type of company you ask? Well, you have to watch the course to find out.

Plus, for those of you looking to work with longer documents and who need a way to easily add a table of contents, footnotes, endnotes, and other reference points, this course will help you achieve those goals and be able to do these tasks in Word efficiently and effectively.

This course will have several hours of video training, pre-assessment tests, and post-assessment tests, with many of the post-assessment exercises geared toward simulations, which is what MOS exams traditionally have been based on rather than standard multiple-choice questions.

And, as is the case with many of our courses, a project workbook will be included to, again, help you get ready to pass the MOS exam and be job-ready for whatever skills are needed for Microsoft Word 2016.

Keep watching this blog for further updates on our Office 2016 series as well as other course series we are working on, such as CompTIA A+, Adobe CC 2015, and, coming later this year, programming!



What To Expect From Our Upcoming Office 2016 Courses

by Jason - Apr 07, 2016


Hi, everyone! I’m sitting here, taking a break from filming our first Office 2016 course, Excel 2016! We are actually closing in on finishing the filming stage of this course, and soon you will see the finished product in its entirety.

Being that this is the first course in our Office 2016 series, let me tell you a little more about this course and the other Office 2016 courses we will be producing. The courses (starting with this Excel course) have two goals: First, to get you ready for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exams. To accomplish this, we are presenting the material in the exact order of the objectives list on the MOS exams. And, the project workbook accompanying this course will also follow the order of the objectives on the exams.

Secondly, we know not everyone who takes a computer course is trying to get a certification. So, the examples we present are real-life, everyday examples which will help you become job-ready in any position needing Microsoft Office skills (Excel for this course, of course). Thus, the video-based training examples are snippets of what you can expect to see in a real-life situation for these Office programs.

Specifically, each Office 2016 course will have several hours of video-based training, pre-assessment and post-assessment tests (with a heavy focus on simulations, since that is what the MOS exams tend to have), and a project workbook which will help you get valuable practice in whatever Office 2016 program you are pursuing.

So, stay tuned as sooner than you know it, the Office 2016 courses will be in your classroom, or living room, or wherever you have a device to view these courses!



Test Taking Tips, Part 2: Decoding the Objectives

by Jason - Mar 31, 2016


Hello, everyone! Spring is here, baseball is about to start (which means excitement for some of us and a reason to nap for some of you, I am sure), and here at LearnKey we are finishing up our A+ 220-902 series of courses and ramping up our Office 2016 and Adobe CC 2015 Test Prep series. If you want details of those series, check out what I wrote two weeks ago on the subject.

Today, though, I want to continue a discussion I started months ago, that of test-taking tips. I outlined what I use as a comprehensive plan for preparing for and then taking certification tests. In many discussions with many students, one particular question comes up: How much attention to detail do we have to pay to each test objective?

That question actually has a two-part answer. First of all, you need to pay attention to every objective and every sub-objective. Anything on an objectives list is fair game for a test question, otherwise, the objective would not be listed. Avoid falling into the “I don’t use this so I don’t need to know this” trap. Remember, a certification test is testing your overall knowledge of a program, not what you are going to use the program for on the job. So, study and practice every objective, line-by-line.

The second part of the answer is this: Look for keywords in the objective descriptions and use that as your guide for how detailed you get with your study. To further explain this, here are some phrases we commonly see on test objectives:

Describe…

Given a scenario…

Identify…

Implement…

Install and Configure…

Notice that I’ve only listed the first few words of each type of objective. The reason is simple: first words mean a lot! To break this down further, when you see an objective that starts with “Describe” or “Identify”, yes, you need to practice the concept being covered. But, put your emphasis on the terms and definitions being covered in that area because that is most likely what test questions are going to focus on.

For test objectives which start with “Implement” or “Install and Configure” or something similar, you will definitely need to spend more time on those and be able to do the tasks given. Many of those objective descriptions end up as complicated multiple-choice or simulation questions on tests. Just knowing terms and definitions will not be enough to answer those questions.

For the “Given a scenario” or similarly described objectives, know both terms and definitions and practical application. Those objectives tend to appear on tests in what I like to call real-life or situational questions. So to best study those objectives, get as much hands-on, real-life practice as you can. And when those test questions appear, put yourself in the situation and answer accordingly.

To give you a specific example, the MTA Mobility and Device Fundamentals exam (Exam 98-368) has an objective to describe Active Directory Federation Services. The MCSA Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services exam (Exam 70-412) has an objective to implement Active Directory Federation Services. See the difference? For the MTA tests, which are good starting points for a certification track, knowing concepts will often suffice. However, for the MCSA tests, which are considered a higher level of certification than the MTA certifications, you are expected to be able to implement these concepts, not just describe them.

So the next time you are preparing to get a certification, take some time to do some objective “decoding” on your own. Use the descriptors for each set of objectives as your guide to help you better prepare for your certification tests.



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2016 Courses: Evaluation, Improvement, and Job Readiness

by Jason - Mar 16, 2016


A new year always means a fresh start here at LearnKey and a fresh evaluation of what we do, how we do it, and what we can do to make our courses the best possible courses they can be and, for you, our beloved customers, a rich and interactive learning experience to help you fulfill two main goals: get certified in your area of study and be job-ready in your area of study.

The vast majority of people looking to take online learning courses are looking either for a new career or to improve in their current careers. And, we have made job readiness a major part of what we do in our courses, how we do it, and which courses we do. Again, mastering an area of study is not just about obtaining a certification. It is also about obtaining job-ready skills.

With that comes some course and schedule adjustments. I am happy to tell you that to make these goals of getting as many people certified and job-ready in their careers of choice, we have the following four major tracks we are doing in 2016:

A+ 900 Series

Our A+ 900 series, THE certification for those looking to be certified and job-ready as computer technicians, is our hallmark series for this first quarter of 2016. We have already released the A+ 220-901 series of courses and soon, the 220-902 series of courses will start to roll out. These courses will really help those of you looking to get A+ certified and get you job-ready skills for a computer technician position.

Adobe CC 2015 Test Prep Series

Adobe has a new set of exams out for their CC 2015 series. These exams are different than older Adobe exams in that they are including scenario-based questions. We are constructing a series of test prep courses which, combined with our existing catalog of Adobe courses, will get you job-ready for positions such as photo editor, graphic designer, web designer, video editor, and animation artist. And, these test prep courses will get you ready to gain Adobe Certified Associate CC 2015 certifications.

Office 2016

Last week, I wrote about the new Tell Me feature in Office 2016. Our Office 2016 series will not only help you get your Microsoft Office Specialist certifications, but the series will also help you be job-ready for positions to where Microsoft Office programs need to be well-known. How are we doing this? Well, I can’t give away the details yet, but we will building these courses in a way to where you view these courses through the eyes of employees managing company data using Microsoft Office. A single “company” is going to be used for the entire Office suite of courses, giving you the continuity to see how these Office apps interact, and, further sharpen your job-ready skills.

The LearnKey Programming Track

Programming jobs have been in high demand since I have been in IT. And, with the advent of mobile devices and people needing information in many different ways, programming jobs will continue to be in high demand. So I am very excited to tell you that this fall we will be launching an entire suite of programming courses, from an Introduction to Programming course (something I wish I had when I was learning this stuff) to building web applications to higher-end programming courses. Again, the focus will be getting you (if you want to get into a programming career) the job-ready skills needed to be a successful programmer.

I mentioned earlier that there are schedule adjustments and with adjustments, some programs come aboard (like our new programming track) and some programs ride off into the sunset. And for us, the program we are suspending is our Project Management suite of courses, including PMP, CAPM, and Microsoft Project courses. We do so with the goals in mind I mentioned earlier, to help as wide of an audience as possible reach their certification and career goals. You may notice that the four series of courses I’ve outlined in this blog fit a common theme: they are all series of courses geared toward people looking for a career or looking to improve their current career situations. That is the audience that makes up the vast majority of people who take online learning courses, it is the vast majority of our audience, and these adjustments are going to help us help you fulfill your certification and job-ready goals for 2016.



Microsoft Office 2016’s “Tell Me” Feature

by Jason - Mar 10, 2016


Hello everyone! Office 2016, released last fall, is not a major upgrade over Office 2013, but it does have some nice new features. Over the next few months, this blog space will occasionally introduce a few of those features as we coincide this with our producing an entire suite of Office 2016 courses this summer.

All of our Office 2016 courses will get you ready for both the Microsoft Office Specialist certification for Office 2016 (due out later this year) and, more importantly for many of you, get you job-ready for any position requiring proficiency in Microsoft Office. We will be building courses for Word 2016, Excel 2016, PowerPoint 2016, Outlook 2016, and Access 2016. I am lining up on-camera outfits to color-coordinate with the theme colors of Office as we speak (OK, maybe I’m not but you will have to get the courses to find out).

Anyway, here is a new feature in Office 2016: the “Tell me” feature. This is a big enhancement over the standard help feature as you can click in the “Tell me what you want to do” box. In Excel 2016, it looks just like this:

Tell me what you want to do button

So, you can click in the box and type a phrase for what you want to do. In this example, I typed “add a page break” and look what I got:

Add a page break screenshot

Needless to say, this is a big help in the Help feature (pun intended). Keep checking back for updates on our suite of Office 2016 courses.



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CompTIA A+ (220-901) Series Released!

by Brad - Mar 01, 2016


Today we are excited to announce the release of our A+ (220-901) Series courses. Authored by LearnKey expert Jason Manibog, LearnKey’s A+ (220-901) Series includes the four domains that are covered in CompTIA exam 220-901. This series thoroughly covers the objectives in each domain and will prepare students for A+ exam 220-901. The A+ (220-901) Series includes four domains and one complete series course:

The A+ (220-901) Series is Part 1 of a two-part series required for full A+ certification. Part 2, the A+ (220-902) Series, is scheduled for release in about a month.

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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A+ Series Comparison: 800 vs. 900

by Jason - Feb 24, 2016


Hello again, your senior humble instructor, I mean, your humble senior instructor here. With a new A+ series out (and our courses rolling out on this series as I write this), I’ve fielded several questions on the topic of “what is different in the 800 vs. 900 series?” Well, I’m here to help shed some light on that and some other related questions I have been getting lately from students. So, without further ado…

Question #1: What are the major differences between the 800 and 900 series objectives?

Answer: There are three major differences. They are:

  1. Hardware has been de-emphasized. It used to cover 40% of the first exam in the series and now it covers 34% of the first exam. That may not seem like much, but the real de-emphasis comes from CompTIA doing a very good job streamlining hardware topics. No longer do you need to worry about memorizing a type of RAM or CPU that is way out-of-date with current market trends. The same goes for cables, especially when it comes to peripherals.
  2. Mobile devices have far more coverage on both exams than before. In fact, the percentage of questions has doubled on the first exam, from 9% to 18%. In addition, you will want to make sure to practice with mobile devices containing the iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems, paying particular attention to things business people do on these devices, such as configure email and install and uninstall apps.
  3. This is the BIG change: Troubleshooting questions are on BOTH exams now. For years, the majority (if not all of) the troubleshooting questions appeared on the second exam. Now, you can expect about 25-30% of the questions on each exam to cover troubleshooting situations. The 901 exam has hardware and network troubleshooting while the 902 exam has software troubleshooting. And both exams will have questions on troubleshooting mobile devices.

Question #2: Are there simulation questions on the test?

Answer: Indeed there are. The good news is our courses, workbooks, and post-assessment tests will help you get ready to take on those simulation questions. As I always say, practice makes perfect. The more you practice concepts such as determining what computer one needs given a set of requirements, setting up small networks (wired and wireless), working with command prompt commands, and performing Windows installations and repairs, the better-equipped you will be for these exams.

Question #3: If I passed the 801 test, can I take the 902 test and have my A+ certification?

Answer: NO! The 800 series and 900 series are different. To be A+ certified, you either need to pass both the 801 and 802 exams or pass the 901 and 902 exams. Of course, I would recommend the 900 series as the objectives are a far better fit for today’s A+ technician compared to, say, four years ago.

By the way, the 800 series will be retired in June. So if you are halfway there, you have (as of this writing) about four months to finish the 800 series certification. If you have not started, I would go with the 900 series.

Here is my final observation: From having passed both tests recently, I can tell you that troubleshooting as a whole is far more emphasized than in previous series. When you get a troubleshooting question, be the person in the question trying to solve the problem. And then think “what would I do here?” This will make answering those questions more natural than just trying to guess an answer.



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