Thanksgiving

by Brad - Nov 25, 2014


This Thursday and Friday, LearnKey offices will be closed in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. LearnKey offices will return to regular hours of operation 12/1/2014.

While many early groups of settlers observed a yearly day of thanksgiving after their arrival in the New World, the origin of the Thanksgiving holiday is generally attributed to those colonists known as the Pilgrims. Fleeing religious persecution in England, the Pilgrims originally settled in Leiden, Holland. Fearful of losing their cultural identity through long association with the Dutch people, the Pilgrims eventually left Holland and sailed to the New World aboard the Mayflower.

In late November of 1620, the colonists arrived in what is now known as Provincetown Harbor. They organized the first government of the new colony through a contract later known as the Mayflower Compact, signed by forty-one adult male passengers, two of whom – Degory Priest and George Soule – are my ancestors. The Mayflower Compact allowed for democratic voting and as been called the world’s first written constitution.

By December, most of the colonists on the Mayflower had become ill and were suffering from scurvy. A small group began exploring the shore for a place to found their new settlement, eventually choosing on an abandoned native village which they named New Plymouth. The first home constructed became a hospital for the sick, and by March only 47 of the original 102 colonists had survived.

During the first year, the colonists made friends with the native people, who shared supplies with the newcomers and taught them how to grow corn. In late September or October of 1621, the surviving Pilgrims invited their native friends to a three-day feast to celebrate their harvest. This feast is traditionally known as the First Thanksgiving.

We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and hope everyone has plenty to be thankful for!

The First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930)



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American Education Week

by Brad - Nov 19, 2014


Education Week Header

This week is American Education Week. First held in 1921, American Education Week was founded by the National Education Association and the American Legion. In the following years, sponsors grew to include the U.S. Department of Education and dozens of other national education organizations. American Education Week is always celebrated the week before the week of Thanksgiving.

In the words of United States President Barack Obama:

“Every young person deserves access to a world-class education. In classrooms, lecture halls, and laboratories across America, high-quality education helps unlock the limitless potential of our Nation’s students and creates pathways for their success. It prepares them for the jobs of tomorrow and the responsibilities of citizenship. A strong school system bolsters our economy and strengthens our democracy, and it is at the core of the American belief that with hard work, anyone can get ahead. During American Education Week, we celebrate the devoted educators who instruct and inspire students of all ages, and we continue our work to provide every person with the best education possible…

With grit and passion, America’s teachers give life to education’s promise. Our education-support professionals help ensure the health, well-being, and success of our children. And in small towns and large cities, principals and district administrators cultivate communities that value learning and share a common vision of academic excellence. Together, these leaders encourage our students to reach higher and inspire them to achieve their dreams. Great educators and administrators deserve all the tools and resources they need to do their job, including chances for professional development and pay that reflects the contributions they make to our country. They are the most critical ingredients in any school…

In a complex world, we must meet new and profound challenges. As a Nation, we must prepare the next generation to face these issues and the problems of their own time. An education equips the leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge and vision they need to discover the solutions of the future and build a better society for their children and grandchildren. This week, we honor the teachers, mentors, and professionals who guide our kids as they explore the world. Let us recommit to supporting a first-class education for all students, from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.”

Take time this week to thank those who work in education and celebrate their contributions to the growth of our society.



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Using Company “Wellness Checks” to Improve Performance

by Brad - Oct 22, 2014


You’ve probably heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We all know that eating right and exercising regularly are important to our health, but how many of us go to the doctor regularly just to get a checkup? Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t automatically guarantee you will be healthy, so regular health checks are important.

The same concept applies to your workforce. Many companies assume that their employees are content with their jobs and enjoy their work, but without a regular “checkup” there is no way to know for sure.

A checkup can be something as simple as setting up a regular time to meet one-on-one with each employee. Meetings can include both formal evaluations and unstructured time. These meetings can help supervisors gauge the satisfaction level of their employees and reveal issues that managers were previously unaware of. Some employees are more comfortable sharing ideas in a one-on-one setting than in a group, so these times can also provide valuable employee insight into improving your company.

Sometimes, a company wellness check requires a more in-depth examination than can be done in one-on-one meetings. Programs like those offered by LearnKey’s partner company, Predix, can help you learn about your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Predix’s Know Your TalentsTM model can help you leverage your employee’s strengths and ensure you have the right people in the right positions. You can learn how to better communicate with each employee and tap into their talents in the workplace. Not only will you increase productivity, you will increase employee satisfaction as well.

Employees are the number one asset to an organization and their professional development is key to growth and success. You may have all of your employees in the right positions, but some of them may still require training to know everything they need for their job. This happens frequently when employees are promoted. An employee may excel at their job in the Human Resources department, but a promotion to Human Resources Manager could find them lacking in essential skills that were unnecessary in their previous position. LearnKey’s wide selection of training courses can provide the proper training which your employees need to succeed.



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3 Tips for Surviving Company Rightsizing

by Brad - Oct 09, 2014


Author’s Note: This post is based on an article which appeared in the May/June 2009 edition of the LearnKey newsletter.

In order to survive the always-changing face of business, all companies must go through a series of corporate “rightsizing” at various points in their lifecycle. Often, employees are laid off or transferred to support the new structure and goals of the company.

When a company goes through rightsizing, it’s often difficult to know if your job is safe or if you will get handed the dreaded pink slip. These three tips can help prepare you to survive the changes your company is going through:

  1. Become More Efficient. Companies are always looking for ways to cut costs and one area that often gets cut is employees. This often means more things need to be done in the same amount of time with fewer people than before. Learning to work more efficiently can help to set you apart from your coworkers. When you can do the work of two people in the same amount of time, your value will be much higher than those who can’t.
  2. Knowledge is Power. A key feature of the changing face of business is expecting employees to not only be good at the job they were hired for, but to be flexible enough to take on other responsibilities as needed. In the time I’ve been with LearnKey I have held several different positions, and occasionally been asked to assist others with tasks in which I had little to no previous experience. Gaining more knowledge, whether through books, online learning, or seminars, can help you to adapt to whatever situation you find yourself in.
  3. Continue Your Education. Take it upon yourself to learn the new things you need to learn – even if your company can’t compensate you. Buy products to help get you where you want to be and invest in your future. Set goals and hold yourself accountable for the outcomes.

As a learning company, LearnKey has a wide variety of training courses to help you learn the things you need to know to survive your company’s rightsizing. If you want to communicate your ideas and demonstrate your importance to the company, you will also benefit from our personal productivity courses. See our Course List for details.



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Updated LearnKey Veteran Services Website

by Brad - Sep 17, 2014


If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that our LearnKey Veteran Services website (www.veterans.learnkey.com) has been updated since yesterday. This is more than a mere update; it is a redesign of the existing website. The goal of this new design was two-fold:

  1. Adjust the colors of the LKVS website to be more universal to all branches of the military
  2. Bring the design of the LKVS website into harmony with the recently updated LearnKey.com design

I believe we have accomplished our goal. We used the stylesheet from the new LearnKey website design, but changed the colors so as to set the LKVS site apart from the regular LearnKey website. We also moved away from the camouflage design we were using in the old design, deciding instead on a red, white, and blue color scheme to suggest the American flag.

Two new features of the redesigned LearnKey Veteran Services site are the new Student Resource Center page and the Live Chat option. The live chat option allows students the option of chatting with a VR&E counselor to get answers to time-sensitive questions, while the Student Resource Center provides information on resources available to LKVS students and advisors. This page will be updated from time to time as more resources become available.

LearnKey Veteran Services design



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Remembering September 11th

by Brad - Sep 11, 2014


For many people, the mere mention of a specific date can often bring a tide of memories and emotions rising to the surface. For those living in the United States of America, September 11th is one of those dates. Today marks the thirteenth year since all America watched in horror as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, killing nearly 3000 people and plunging the world into the “War on Terror.”

Though I was nowhere near ground zero, I have written several times over the years about my experiences in the aftermath of the attacks. I was living in California at the time, 2500 miles away from New York City, but the aftershocks of the attacks could be felt in the local community for months afterwards. For those Americans of Middle Eastern descent the fallout lasted much longer, and many American troops continue to suffer the effects of the attacks.

United States President George W. Bush proclaimed September 11, 2002, as Patriot Day. Each year since 2009, President Barack Obama has proclaimed the day Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. In honor of all those killed in the attacks, and in the many battles which have been fought since, we fly our flags at half-mast. Take a moment out of your busy day today to remember those killed on September 11th or visit with a Veteran and thank them for their service.

Two beams of light represent the former Twin Towers of the World Trade Center during the 2004 memorial of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Two beams of light represent the former Twin Towers of the World Trade Center during the 2004 memorial of the September 11, 2001 attacks.



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Exam Prep with Tom Carpenter

by Brad - Aug 01, 2014


Exams can be a stressful experience, but that doesn’t mean you have to go in unprepared. LearnKey and Tom Carpenter, president of SysEdCo and frequent LearnKey author, have teamed up to create a short course to help test takers understand two things:

  1. How to pick the most important parts of an exam, and
  2. How to learn the material and retain information.

Exam Prep with Tom Carpenter

Exam Prep with Tom Carpenter, created on the LearnCast platform, is broken into eight sections covering three main topics: preparation techniques, tips for retaining information, and best practices for taking exams. In this course, you will learn how to best prepare and take a technical exam leading to success.

Whether you are taking an exam for a class or preparing for industry certification, this course can provide you with tricks for retaining important information and give you valuable insights into the different ways people learn. Topics include Overcoming Limits, Strategic Preparation, and Dealing with Stress.

Exam Prep with Tom Carpenter can be purchased through the new LearnKey app, now available in the iTunes app store.



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FLVs and Creative Cloud 2014

by Brad - Jun 25, 2014


Last week, Adobe released an update to their Creative Cloud software. A major change from previous versions of Adobe’s software is now they have removed the ability to encode video into the FLV and F4V formats.

Yes, you read that right. After Effects CC 2014, Premiere Pro CC 2014, and Media Encoder CC 2014 can no longer export video to the FLV or F4V formats.

Interestingly enough, Flash CC 2014 can still import FLV video. Those who use embedded video in Flash can still import video as usual, but Adobe no longer provides the tools to create those videos.

Flash Import Dialog

Luckily, there are many other tools out there to do the job. A quick Google search will bring up a myriad of websites and free tools for converting video to FLV.

Another option is to keep older versions of Media Encoder and After Effects installed alongside your CC 2014 versions. If you’re like me and have already uninstalled your earlier versions of the Adobe software, there is still hope. From the Creative Cloud panel, you can install CC 2014, CC, and CS6 versions of the software, so simply reinstall an older version of the program you need.

Under the Apps tab, scroll down to the Find New Apps section and change ‘All Apps’ to ‘Previous Version.’

All Apps Dropdown

Click the Install button next to the desired software and you will see a dropdown giving you the option to install CS6, CC, or CC 2014. Select the option you want, and once the software is installed you should be back in business.

Available Versions



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Lee Wiley to Author Illustrator CC

by Brad - Jun 19, 2014


Lee Wiley

Yesterday, LearnKey temporarily welcomed back an old friend, the talented Lee Wiley. Lee is a former LearnKey employee and a rising star in the world of graphic novels. He is also the author of our upcoming Adobe Illustrator CC course, which began filming last night and is scheduled for release in August.

I first met Lee in 2009, when I was the Design Team Lead for LearnKey. He was looking for a job in his chosen field, and I was short a designer. The Fates aligned and Lee became the newest member of my team.

Over the next year, I worked closely with Lee on many LearnKey projects and he quickly became one of the most trusted members of my team. I transferred to LearnKey’s Salt Lake office in 2010, and a few months later Lee became the Lead Designer.

Apparently I had been holding the design team back. The next couple of years saw a revolution in the style of our courses, beginning with the Adobe Creative Suite 5 courses. Lee has never been afraid to take risks and challenge established methods, and the visual content of our courses reflected that. Although I will not be working directly with Lee on the Illustrator CC course, it’s good to know he is at the helm.

Lee has always been active in cutting-edge projects, the most notable of which is a five-part graphic novel series, Expiration Date. Written by scriptwriter Robert Zappia, Expiration Date is the futuristic tale of world overpopulation and a suspected conspiracy involving one government’s unique solution. Issues #1 and #2 were released in 2012 and 2013, and Issue #3 is set to debut this fall at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles.

projectexpdate



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My Path to Certification: eLearning Advice

by Brad - Jun 03, 2014


This article is the third in a three-part series written by LearnKey’s Online Content and Social Media Manager about achieving industry certification.
Read Part 1 and Part 2

My experience with LearnKey courses and industry certification has taught me a few things about elearning. My advice for those using online training to achieve industry certification:

9 Tips for Industry Certification Infographic

  • Take notes as you watch the LearnKey training, especially on concepts that are unfamiliar to you. Even if you don’t use them to study, sometimes just the act of writing something down helps to cement it in your head.
  • Take full advantage of the pre-tests. Pre-test questions give you an immediate ‘Correct’ or ‘Incorrect’ so you can keep trying until you get the right answer. Unless you are in a learning environment that requires you to keep track of your pre-test score, you can answer the same question several times before moving on to the next question. Alternatively, you can use the study guide from the incorrect pre-test questions to know which areas in the training you should pay more attention to.
  • Take full advantage of the labs. Not only do the labs give you experience following a specific set of instructions within a simulation of the software, they are also included in the post-test. You can run through the labs as many times as you need to, so knowing how to complete the labs will boost your post-test score.
  • Take full advantage of the study guides. When you miss a question on the pre- or post-test, that question is added to your study guide for that test. Go back through the video training and watch the sections that cover the incorrect questions.
  • Take full advantage of the project workbook. Along with containing valuable reference information, project workbooks are designed to give students experience within the actual software rather that in a simulated environment. Project difficulties range from Beginner to Advanced, so even experienced users can find something of benefit in the workbooks.
  • Take full advantage of the MasterExam. Think of the MasterExam as the post-test for the entire course. LearnKey recommends that you pass the MasterExam three times before you attempt to take the certification exam. This may seem like overkill for more experienced users, but those with less experience will find it helpful.
  • Explore the software. Open up the menus, learn the features, and just take some time to figure things out on your own. When you want a little more structure, use the study guides and the notes you took during the training to help you learn the software inside and out.
  • Don’t wait too long between completion of the training course and taking your certification exam. Unless you have a lot of previous experience or a photographic memory, you will forget things between finishing the course and taking the exam. The less time that passes, the less information you will forget.
  • And, most important, remember that certification isn’t everything. Industry certification looks good on a resume and may help you get ahead in the job market, but the ultimate goal is to know how to use the software proficiently. If you can pass the certification test but you can’t really use the software, you won’t last very long at that job you were offered because of your certifications.

Whether you choose to follow my advice or not, good luck on your path to industry certification!



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