CEO Gets “Belted” By Senior Instructor

by Jason - Apr 28, 2017


I have an impeccable wardrobe. Not impeccable as in perfectly tailored suits, mind you. It is impeccable in that it is perfect for the business casual work environment at LearnKey and for my second home, the golf course.

I’m talking specifically about my belt collection. Yes, I have a brown belt and a black belt like most guys do, but, I also have white, silver, mocha, purple, deep purple, navy, light blue, green, lime, neon, orange, and red belts. I even have a white/blue two-tone belt which reverses to a black belt. Snazzy, huh? Most of my co-workers are very complimentary of my wardrobe. They know good taste when they see it.

I said most because our fearless CEO, Jeff Coruccini, for the longest time failed to see the light on my colorful belts. Every time he flew up, he flat ridiculed my belts. This after I made it a point to make sure he always saw a new one for several straight trips. Spending 15 years in classroom training before coming here two years ago, I learned to read people well, so where I heard ridicule from Jeff, I felt a sense of his wishing he could pull off the look I pull off so effortlessly.

Like me, Jeff likes to get out for a frequent trip around the golf course. He recently had a birthday approaching. So, I asked his wife, Lori, “Hey, what does Jeff wear to the golf course?” Her response, “Black or white shirt and tan shorts. Nothing too exciting.” How sad, I thought. So, while Jeff was up here this week making the rounds, I had a care package sent to him. He made it home, found the box, and here my friends, is a very happy man with the start to what I am sure will be a most impressive belt collection:

Jeff Gets Belted

Just look at the joy on his face knowing that one day, he will have that impeccable wardrobe, just like I do.

So, what does this have to do with employability and certifications and a workplace in general? Actually, there is a point here: We here at LearnKey work hard, very hard, to create the best possible courses we can to improve employability and certification prospects for all of you. But in all that hard work, we allow for fun. We allow for laughing at ourselves and with each other. And just having that attitude about life will make you more employable…every day. And, you will enjoy life that much more.



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Time To Get Animated With Our Upcoming Adobe Animate CC Course

by Jason - Mar 16, 2017


How many of you remember when Macromedia Flash first became a big “thing” on the Internet? No? How about Adobe Flash? Maybe? How about this question: How many of you feel skunked when you tap to a website on your mobile device only to get the dreaded message, “Your browser does not support Flash”?

Well, you’re not alone if this has happened to you. And just as Flash was the big thing years ago, HTML5 is now. However, Flash and HTML5 did not really work well together, because, to export from Flash, you had to get a plug-in or tool or some kind of extension. It just wasn’t a smooth, seamless process.

Fortunately, those days are over. What was once known as Adobe Flash is now Adobe Animate, one of the newest additions to the Adobe suite of programs. In a nutshell, Adobe Animate is Flash plus the ability to easily create files for ActionScript (the native Flash format), HTML5, and WebGL (Web Graphics Library).

With a new program comes a brand new Adobe Animate course, due to launch late spring/early summer. This course is going to be a thorough, yet clear and concise, introduction to Adobe Animate and will serve two purposes: to improve your employability skills in the areas of web and graphic design as they relate to Adobe Animate, and to get you prepared to pass the Adobe Certified Associate in Multiplatform Animations using Adobe Animate CC exam and obtain your ACA in Animate.

How are we going to do this, you ask? First, we are going to cover animation terms and definitions and build a project in this course while focusing on these five major exam topics:

  • Setting Project Requirements
  • Understanding Rich Animated Media
  • Understanding Adobe Animate CC
  • Creating Rich Animated Media Content Using Animate CC
  • Testing, Publishing, and Evaluating Rich Animated Media Elements Using Animate CC

To cover these, we will have several (but not too many) hours of video training, pre-assessment and post-assessment tests, practice labs, and a project workbook full of practice exercises. All of these tools are here to, again, increase your employability prospects and help you obtain the Animate CC ACA certification.

Finally, for those of you wondering which version of Animate we will be covering, technically the course is going to be built for the latest certification offering, which is Animate CC 2015, but the course will work just as well for anyone trying to learn Animate CC 2017.



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Can You Become a QuickBooks Certified User Without Being a CPA? Absolutely!

by Jason - Mar 09, 2017


That question above was one of many questions I got when I used to teach QuickBooks in a classroom setting. I’m not a CPA and I’m a certified QuickBooks user, so you can become one too. What is QuickBooks, you ask? It’s an industry-leading accounting software program, geared toward helping businesses of all sizes organize and perform their accounting duties.

We are currently working on our updated QuickBooks Certified User course, which we have completed filming and are in the process of fine-tuning. This course maps to the 10 domains on the QuickBooks Certified User certification exam. The 10 domains are:

  • QuickBooks Setup
  • QuickBooks Utilities and General Product Knowledge
  • List Management
  • Items
  • Sales
  • Purchases
  • Payroll
  • Reports
  • Basic Accounting
  • Customization and Shortcuts

Our new QuickBooks course covers these 10 domains in such a way to help you prepare to pass the QuickBooks Certified User exam (done through Certiport) and obtain your QuickBooks Certified User certification. We present the material in a very concise, easy-to-follow format, kind of like the QuickBooks program itself.

This course will have video training, pre-assessment and post-assessment tests, practice labs, and a project workbook, all geared toward solidifying your QuickBooks knowledge not only for the certification, but also to improve your employability prospects for any position requiring QuickBooks knowledge. Or you may have a small business of your own and want solid knowledge of QuickBooks, so you can let it do the major accounting work for you, leaving you to do what you do best—run your business.

So, back to the original question: Can you get the QuickBooks Certified User certification without being a CPA? Yes, indeed! And you can get this without being a financial planner or tax preparation expert or, well, you get the drift.

Stay tuned to this blog space for my update next week. I promise you, it will get “animated” at times!



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What I Have Been Up To This Year

by Jason - Feb 03, 2017


Greetings, one and all. I hope you all had a good January. The snow and cold around here means no golf for me which means no fun, but, I digress. I’m here to talk upcoming courses, as in what our crew has been filming and putting together for upcoming releases. This month, we actually filmed three of these and I’m here to fill you all in on what we are working on and how these courses will help your certification prospects and your employability. After all, our CEO, Jeff Coruccini, penned a couple of weeks ago our vision of Improving Employability Everyday, something I always have in mind when playing the architect for these courses. Now, onto our upcoming courses:

Access 2016

This course is going to be the fifth and final course on Office 2016 and will cover the material needed for the MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) exam for Microsoft Access, exam 77-730. This exam, and the course, has five main topics: Creating and managing databases, building tables, creating queries, creating forms, and creating reports. We cover all of that material. However, having helped companies large and small build Access databases for the better part of 15 years, this much I know: One has to have a good handle on the concept of relational database design and on how to go about proper planning for a database in order to be successful with Access. So even though those two topics are not on the exam, we cover those as well.

Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming

What does a bowling ball have to do with programming? Well, to find out, you will want to take our upcoming Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming course. Seriously, though, many people think, or are told, that the first step in learning programming is to learn code. As this course will detail, learning code comes after we learn about objects and their characteristics, designing programs, and designing program workflow. The code, then, is just the result of the plan and then becomes easier to learn. This is also the first course in our new programming tracks of courses, something this space will detail more of very soon.

MTA Security Fundamentals

Over the last year, Microsoft has made strides in updating their MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) certification program. The MTA program is a great entry-level certification program in the areas of development, databases, and IT infrastructure. Microsoft has “refreshed” the 98-349 exam for Operating System Fundamentals, which I detailed recently, to remove Windows 7-only content and add Windows 10 content. That course will be out sometime this spring.

Another course that has gotten a “refresh” in objectives is the Security Fundamentals course for the 98-367 exam. The core topics of understanding security layers, operating system security, understanding network security, and understanding security software are still there, but they have been updated to reflect the current trends in basic security fundamentals. So, we are doing the same with this course.

Each of these courses will have the usual video training, along with pre-assessments and post-assessments, practice labs, and many helpful test tips (for the Access 2016 and MTA Security Fundamentals courses).

So, with improving employability prospects and certification prospects in three areas: databases, programming, and security, hey, maybe January isn’t such a bad month after all, even without the golf.



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MTA OS Fundamentals (98-349): Same Name, Same Exam Number, Not The Same Content

by Jason - Dec 12, 2016


Whenever I am asked to write an entry for this blog, I usually do the writing mid-week. But, last week our great crew was busy filming the course I get to tell you about today, and that is the updated version of the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) Operating System Fundamentals course, which maps to MTA exam 98-349.

Most of the time, when we put together a new version of a course, it is for a new exam (specifically name or number). This time, though, the exam name and number are the same. What changed, then? Oh, about half of the test objectives as the exam has been updated to include Windows 10 content and remove content that just applied to Windows 7.

For example, exam topics such as Aero configurations, Windows Media Center, and Windows XP mode are all gone as they are not in Windows 10, but features such as Insider Preview, Current Branch, and Windows Store apps are exam topics. Furthermore, the wording of many exam topics has changed to “Configure….” rather than “Understand…”, placing a greater emphasis on knowing how to do operating system configurations in Windows 10, not just knowing what they are.

Now, the specifics: There are six domains on this exam:

  • Understanding operating system configurations
  • Installing and upgrading client systems
  • Managing applications
  • Managing files and folders
  • Managing devices
  • Understanding operating system maintenance

This course covers these domains thoroughly, through the video training (which we just completed filming), pre-assessment and post-assessment tests, practice labs, and a project workbook with plenty of practice exercises for configuring Windows 10. All of these tools will help you pass the 98-349 exam and increase your employability as, according to Microsoft, Windows 10 has been deployed to over 400 million devices in its first year of release. Thus, businesses which need desktop support technicians and computer repair shops definitely need people who are skilled in configuring Windows 10, which this course and certification will provide.



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Adobe CC 2015 Test Prep Series: Adobe Premiere and Some Adobe Exam Advice

by Jason - Dec 01, 2016


Hello again from your humble Senior Instructor. You may have noticed over the past several months a series of test prep courses we have released, all tied toward the new Adobe CC 2015 ACA (Adobe Certified Associate) exams. I wrote about the changes to the exams a while back, and, we have released test prep courses for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Dreamweaver.

The fifth and final test prep course, Adobe Premiere, will be out soon. Premiere is the digital video production program in the Adobe suite, and we recently completed filming the course. In this course, we cover the five main domains of the ACA exam for Adobe Premiere CC 2015:

  • Setting Project Requirements
  • Understanding Digital Video
  • Understanding Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015
  • Editing Digital Video using Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015
  • Exporting Video with Adobe Premiere Pro

Our test prep courses are different than a full-featured course in that we focus solely on what you need to know to pass the exam, not so much on full coverage on how to use the program. Why have we done that for Adobe CC 2015? The reason is simple: There really is not much difference between Adobe CC and Adobe CC 2015. And, we already have full courses for the Adobe CC suite, authored by highly talented Adobe specialists, including Chad Chelius (Dreamweaver and Photoshop), Lee Wiley (Illustrator), Linda Dickeson (InDesign), and Ryan James (Premiere).

The sole purpose of the test prep courses is to fill in the gaps for the new objectives for the Adobe CC 2015 tests, and provide a little review on basic concepts for these programs, as they relate to the exam objectives. We do have a pre-assessment, post-assessment, labs, and a project workbook to accompany each of these test prep courses, and these tools also map to the exam objectives.

Speaking of exam objectives, having re-certified this year in all five of the Adobe programs for which we have built these test prep courses, here are some general advice tips from me to you on how to best set yourself up to pass these exams and obtain these certifications:

  1. Study the objective list top to bottom. For all five exams, one domain covers project terms and definitions. Do not gloss over this! This is 20% or so of each exam.
  2. Put yourself in the shoes of a real-life professional for whatever exam you are taking. For example, if you are taking the Illustrator exam, you’re a graphic designer for the day. Many of the exam questions are scenario-based, meaning that you need to read about a situation and choose the correct answer accordingly. Yes, the test questions still map very well to the objectives, but the test is there to make sure you can identify what to do in a real-life situation.
  3. For whatever program you are studying, make sure you can do tasks different ways, especially through using the Tools panel and the icons on the panel. Do not count on being able to use keyboard shortcuts to answer test questions (many Mac users I know cringe at the very thought of this, but, that is reality).
  4. If you get stuck on a question, mark it for review, make your best guess, and move on. Being that the exam is about half simulation-based, it is easy to get trapped for several minutes on a question to where you are trying to remember how to do what is asked. Avoid that trap. Your time management on the exam will be better for it. And, remember that you can miss a few questions and still pass. I had a few “uh oh, what do I do” questions on these exams and still passed each one on the first try. If I can do it, so can you.

And with that, the best of luck to you in your pursuit of the Adobe ACA CC 2015 certifications!



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Get a Microsoft Certification? Get Your Acclaim Badge!

by Jason - Nov 11, 2016


Last week in this blog space, I wrote about the new, streamlined certification paths Microsoft recently released. This week, I have another piece of Microsoft certification news to share with you, and that is, Acclaim badges!

What do Acclaim badges give you? Industry recognition of your newly earned certification. Instead of your having to log on individually to any social networks you may be a part of and individually post your new accomplishments, Acclaim allows you to connect to your social networks (I am on LinkedIn, for example), and add these badges to your profile. To give you a personal example: This year, I renewed my Microsoft Office Master Certification. To do this, I had to pass (hold on while I count…) three core exams and two expert exams (I actually took all five core exams for a total of seven Microsoft Office certifications). Now when it comes to telling anyone about this through social media, well, I’m lazy. But, thanks to these Acclaim badges, I can just log in to Acclaim, find my new certification, and connect to LinkedIn and post the badge there. In fact, I am in the process of doing this as I write this. Here is what the pending badges screen looks like:

Microsoft Acclaim Badges

All that has to be done is to click the Accept button, log into whatever networks you have for social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or others) and from there, you can post these badges to your social media profiles.

There is the option of emailing these badges to others or posting these badges on a website. Either way, these badges provide an easy means for announcing to whoever and wherever your newly earned certifications.

And recently, Microsoft has added MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) badges in addition to the existing Microsoft Office badges, so now you get a badge for passing an MCP test. Finally, though this is a Microsoft post, many other companies participate in the Acclaim badge program, including, for example, Adobe.

The best part of this: In the time it took me to write this blog post, I also claimed the three badges you see above plus an Adobe ACA badge for a test I recently passed and posted those on my LinkedIn profile. You, too, can obtain and use these Acclaim badges to let people know of your certifications so you can broaden your career opportunities. Now that is what I call a win-win.



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Microsoft Certifications – A Streamlined Process

by Jason - Nov 02, 2016


In my 15+ years of classroom training, and my now-nearly 1.5 years as LearnKey’s Senior Instructor (see the asymmetry in numbers there?), I have obtained many Microsoft certifications. What I always found challenging at times (besides the exams themselves) is having to figure out which test goes with which certification, and which tests I need to take (or can take as electives) in order to obtain a certain certification I have wanted or needed. While I was able to figure things out, it often took, well, more time than I wanted to spend reading a certification road map.

On that note, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you good news: Microsoft has revamped and streamlined the process and requirements for their certifications. I don’t quite remember how many certification paths there were before, but now there are only five. They are:

Mobility – Focuses on Windows 10 installation and configuration and configuring Windows devices.

Cloud Platform and Infrastructure – Focuses mainly on Windows Server 2012 and Server 2016 (which has exams in beta as I write this), and Microsoft Azure.

Productivity Path – Similar to Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, but swap Microsoft Azure for Office 365.

Data Management and Analytics Path – Focuses on SQL Server, SQL Server, and…you can guess the third one (hint: SQL Server).

App Builder Path – The path for programmers and aspiring programmers, as it covers web development, C#, and mobile apps, just to name a few.

Now, getting down to five certification paths is, well, really nice. But there is more to this streamlining process. Each certification path has a set of two or three exams to earn an MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate). The Mobility path has just one MCSA (for Windows 10) while the others have multiple MCSA possibilities.

Once an MCSA is obtained, you will need to take a single elective exam (and most of these paths have multiple choices) to then obtain your MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) or, as is the case with the App Builder path, an MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer). And, here is the big catch: to keep your MCSE/MCSD current, you need to pass one elective exam each year. This helps keep people current with these certifications.

So, to summarize: five certification paths, a handful of exams for each to reach MCSA status, an additional elective exam to move up to MCSE/MCSD status, and then passing an elective exam each year holds your MCSE/MCSD status. Streamlining indeed! And, we at LearnKey are going to be “freshening up” our Microsoft certification offerings over the next several months to best align our courseware with these new paths.

Finally, here is a link to the details of what I’ve discussed in this blog: https://borntolearn.mslearn.net/b/weblog/posts/microsoft-streamlines-technical-certifications.

Next week, I will bring you some news regarding Microsoft certifications and earning badges with certain certifications. Yes, these are badges you can use to broadcast your certifications all over social media. In the meantime, best of luck in your certification studies!



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New Network Security Implementation Course (IINS)

by Jason - Sep 12, 2016


Hello, everyone! It’s Cisco season around here at LearnKey. We are in the midst of producing Routing and Switching Fundamentals Part I and on the heels of that will be Part II of that series.

In between that, we are pleased to let you know we will be producing an updated Network Security Implementation (IINS) course for Cisco exam 210-260. This course replaces the previous IINS course (40-554) and exam. As with any changes to a certification, one of the biggest questions on people’s minds is this: What has changed from the previous certification? In the case of this IINS certification, quite a bit. Here are the highlights of what we will be covering in this course (which of course, will relate directly to the exam objectives):

  • Security Concepts
  • Secure Access
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
  • Secure Routing and Switching
  • Cisco Firewall Technologies
  • Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)
  • Content and Endpoint Security

The biggest changes on the exam are around newer Cisco technologies, such as Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System (NGIPS), Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Cisco Cloud Web Security (CWS), and Cisco Identity Service Engines (ISE). In addition, Cisco Configuration Professional (CCP) is not featured on the new exam, but Cisco Adaptive Device Security Manager (ASDM) is featured.

For these topics, the training will consist of pre-assessments, video-based training, interactive labs, and post-assessments, all geared toward getting you the skills needed to pass this exam and obtain the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Security certification.

So where does this certification fit into the hierarchy of Cisco certifications? Technically, this is a level up from the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification but many administrators (or potential administrators) will obtain the Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching certification before tackling this IINS course. The bottom line is that the CCENT is a prerequisite for the IINS. Those looking to get the CCENT should take our Routing and Switching Fundamentals Part I course, which again will be out early this fall. In the meantime, best of luck pursuing whatever certifications are in your desired paths!



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MTA OS Fundamentals Exam Update: Same Name, Same Number, Different…

by Jason - Aug 29, 2016


…Oh, hello there! It’s me, your humble Senior Instructor. Today, I’m here to tell you about an update to the existing Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) 98-349 exam, otherwise known as the MTA OS Fundamentals exam.

The exam, which is tentatively scheduled to change later this month, is still going to focus on Operating System fundamentals, but is getting a “refresh” of sorts. Going away are topics specific to the operating system the exam has focused on, specifically Windows 7. Coming into the exam are topics specific to Windows 10. The exam is still geared toward those looking to learn about the setup and configuration of Windows. Gaining this certification will demonstrate that you have enough knowledge to install and configure Windows smoothly and efficiently and manage Windows installations and apps.

We will be putting our own “refresh” on our existing MTA OS Fundamentals as we will be updating the course this fall to match the new exam objectives. Speaking of objectives, this is not a complete list of what is entering or exiting the exam, but, I think you’ll agree that the theme of the exam is “out with the Windows 7 specifics and in with the Windows 10 specifics.” Here are some of the objective changes for the 98-349 exam:

LEAVING:

  • Gadgets
  • Aero configurations
  • Virtualized clients
  • Application virtualization
  • File Allocation Tables (FAT)
  • Cloud storage
  • Local, online, and automated backup methods

ENTERING:

  • File Explorer settings
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Cortana
  • Hyper-V
  • Operating system architecture
  • Windows 10 features
  • Libraries
  • Disk management
  • Windows Update options
  • Insider Preview
  • Current Branch

Our course “refresh” will involve brand new video courseware, a new project workbook full of exercises to reinforce these concepts, and a pre-assessment and post-assessment test for each exam domain. We look forward to bringing you yet another MTA course this fall!



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