Analogies of a Mutt and a Semi-trailer

by Jason - Oct 17, 2018


A few weeks ago, I was attending an online meeting when my phone rang. It was Scott Walker, one of our sales managers/fellow golfers in the company. He said, “You have a minute? I’m at a high school class and the kids want to say hello to you.” Having left my say-hello-to-students outfit at home, I asked if I was on camera. Scott said, no, just the phone. The next thing I know, I’m saying hello to a bunch of high school students who are taking our MTA Networking course and pursuing their MTA Networking certification (smart move for employability, by the way).

We only had a few minutes to chat, as they were reaching the end of their class, but they asked me a couple of quick questions about the networking career path in general. Then one student asked how I felt about a certain antimalware program. I said, “It’s better than nothing,” which drew some laughs (inferences being what they are, I suppose). I then added, “Look. If you put a small mutt dog out to guard your house, even if the dog doesn’t do anything, people will steer clear just because you have a dog there.” Message understood.

Fast forward the clock to today, when another sales manager/fellow golfer, Kelly Woods, asked me to talk to a student about a potential career change to programming. This gentleman was brand new to programming in general. He asked me how best to learn it and where he could apply it as a career. I said, “You work on semis, right? Well, programming has a similarity to that. Not every semi is the same, but once you work on a few you get the basics down and then it’s not too hard to learn about new ones and their nuances, right?” He said yes. I said, “There you go.” This left him with a better understanding of what he may encounter should he decide to pursue this path.

What’s my point here? There are two. First, analogies are great at taking something foreign and making it seem not so. Being able to learn using analogies improves employability, as it makes things easier to understand. I use those as much as I can when teaching. Second, one of the favorite parts of my job is connecting with students, both current and potential. It keeps me engaged with people as cameras and computer screens don’t talk back to me… at least not yet.

So, to Scott Huerkamp, the teacher from Niceville High School in Florida, thank you for allowing me to say hello to your class and talk to them for a few minutes. And, to the potential student who is thinking of moving from semis to programming, thank you and good luck with whatever you decide.

And, since I mentioned golf, I’ll leave you today with this: A friend of mine called me and complained about how he can’t put four good shots in a row together. My response: “That’s OK. You only hit one shot at a time.” Analogy? You decide.



Scenario-Based Learning – Part Two

by Jason - Jul 27, 2018


Hi again. Yes, I know: two blogs for me in one week is a record or something. So was hitting every fairway but one the other day (accuracy in golf is not my strong suit, but, I digress.) A while back in this blog space, I detailed how we structure our courses around scenario-based learning and how, through scenarios, our courses not only help you get ready to pass certification exams but also give you strong employability skills in the fields in which you may be pursuing.

That was the past. Today, I want to talk present and future. First, the present. We have just put together a video further explaining the concept of scenario-based learning and its importance. You can watch it at the end of this blog.

Secondly, the future. Here is a list of courses (not complete, but a list) we are releasing over the next few months, and, to help you look forward to these, the scenarios tied to these courses:

Course Scenario
Word Expert (Exam 77-726) Writing and formatting a term paper
Excel Expert (Exam 77-728) Analyzing data from an international bike shop
Photoshop 2018 Getting photos ready for a magazine
MTA Cloud Fundamentals (Exam 98-369) A company thinking of moving part or all of their infrastructure to the cloud
ASP.NET MVC (Exam 70-486) Building a robust website for a book store

After all, as the video points out, in our courses, we not only give you the knowledge to complete a task, we give you a task to complete. And that, my friends, is the essence of scenario-based learning. Oh, yes, the video. Enjoy!



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Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun, It’s Doublemint – No, It’s Double MTA

by Jason - Jul 24, 2018


Hi there. Long time, no talk, I know. We’ll it’s the busy time of year (what time isn’t) as we have been working on a number of courses. And I’m happy to say that we have two “new” courses in the MTA family: MTA Windows Server Administration Fundamentals (exam 98-365) and MTA Networking Fundamentals (exam 98-366).

I put “new” in quotes because while the courses are new, the certifications are anything but new. In fact, both certifications have been around for several years. But, this year, they have been updated. First, the 98-365 exam now covers Windows Server 2016, not Server 2008 (poor Server 2012…). And, the 98-366 exam has been updated to reflect current networking fundamentals. Both courses/exams are a great stepping stone into more advanced certifications. Let me explain.

The 98-365 course covers basic Windows Server fundamentals. It is a great prelude into the MCSA Windows Server certification series. This course covers server installation, server roles, an introduction to Active Directory, storage, server performance, and server maintenance. It is a great course for those looking at a possible career in server administration.

The 98-366 course covers basic networking fundamentals. It is a great bridge between computer fundamentals and the CompTIA Network+ certification. This course covers network infrastructure, network hardware, and protocols and services.

Both courses will help you get ready to take and pass their respective exams. Both courses will help you gain employability skills in entry-to-mid level server and/or networking positions. And, if you are thinking, “maybe I want to get into these fields, but I’m not sure,” both courses will go a long way to helping you determine your best career path.

Watch this space for more announcements on new MTA courses and, coming this fall, a brand-new Adobe 2018 certification series.



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Scenario-Based Learning + Exam Readiness = Improving Employability Every Day

by Jason - Mar 13, 2018


I’m often asked, “How do you prepare a course?” That’s a loaded question, as every course is different, but I’ll share with you a few key points as to what goes into our preparing a course for you, our beloved audience, to help improve your employability every day.

First, we are all about exam readiness. WHAT we build is centered around the exam objectives for any course we are building, plain and simple. Our main goal here is to get you ready to pass the exam and achieve whatever certification you are pursuing in any course.

What I want to talk to you about today, as your humble senior instructor, is the HOW of it all, and that is what is commonly known as scenario-based learning. Here’s a quote out of an article from Massey University: “Scenario-based learning is based on the principles of situated learning theory, which argues that learning best takes place in the context in which it is going to be used, and situated cognition, the idea that knowledge is best acquired and more fully understood when situated within its context.”

To put this in our terms, we build our course material around real-life scenarios that you can use to improve your employability prospects. Here are some examples:

  • A+: You, the student, take on the role of being on-boarded at a computer repair shop, where you are taken through the A+ principles of hardware, operating systems, and troubleshooting. Within the course material, you get to practice many of these concepts while preparing for the A+ certification exams.
  • Microsoft Office: We are revamping our Office offerings, and in the revamped Word course (out later this spring), you learn Word by building two main documents: a resume and a term paper. This puts you into two real-life scenarios: resume writing and managing a project (a term paper).
  • Our programming track: In many of our programming courses, like HTML/CSS, JavaScript, and Java, the scenarios revolve around building code-based projects for small businesses, an absolutely critical skill for new and junior-level programmers. What better way to learn coding than by doing coding?

So, we have the WHAT, which is to cover the exam objectives, the HOW, which is to use scenario-based learning to cover these objectives, and that leads us to what Simon Sinek refers to in his famous TED talk “The Golden Circle,” our WHY, which is improving employability every day.

I leave you with one scenario-based example below, a clip from our A+ course, in which we use a scenario to cover the concept of customer service. Enjoy.



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Lying Down on the Job

by Jason - Dec 15, 2017


I know, I know. I haven’t been in this blog space for a while. As you can see, I’ve been lying down on the job. Well, not really. The past several weeks I’ve been doing anything but lying down as our production crew has been busy filming not one, but two new CompTIA courses: Security+, and Network+. The Security+ course, which will be out soon, is tied to the new Security+ exam, exam SY0-501. The exam covers these security topics:

  • Threats, Attacks, and Vulnerabilities
  • Technologies and Tools
  • Architecture and Design
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Risk Management
  • Cryptography

Security+, in my humble opinion, has really gained in importance for anyone who wants to be employable in an IT Security position. I’ve known companies to actually make this a requirement as a condition of employment, i.e., get the Security+ certification in the first 90 days to stay at the job.

The other major course we are working on is the new Network+ course, tied to exam N10-007. Again, a Network+ certification certainly helps employability, specifically in the area of network administration jobs. The Network+ course goes through these topics:

  • Networking Concepts
  • Infrastructure
  • Networking Operations
  • Network Security
  • Troubleshooting

This course and exam will be out early in 2018.

By the way, which concept were we filming when I was lying down here? It is one that is actually in both the Security+ and Network+ courses. And, a certain TV character named Malcolm would get it right away. That’s your hint. The answer will come in the next blog. In the meantime, with around 1400 exam objectives between the two courses, I think I will lie down here for a just a few minutes longer and rest a little before resuming production.



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New Security+ on the Way

by Jason - Oct 06, 2017


Hello, everyone. It’s fall season here at LearnKey, and a busy fall it is going to be with many new courses on the horizon. One of the major courses we are working on (in fact we are filming this one very soon) is the brand new Security+ course, to map to the CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 exam (also brand new).

This new version of the Security+ exam really reflects the changing landscape of both security needs in an organization and the role of the Security Administrator or similar position in an organization. Today’s security administrator needs to be a very versatile individual, not only able to secure an existing IT infrastructure but be more involved in planning security, specifically as it relates to Architecture and Design and Risk Management, which, by the way, are two domains on the new Security+ exam.

The other four domains on the exam are: Technologies and Tools; Threats, Attacks, and Vulnerabilities; Identity and Access Management; and Cryptography and PKI (Public Key Infrastructure). For each of these domains, we will have comprehensive video training, pre-assessment and post-assessment tests, practice labs, and a robust project workbook, all mapped to the Security+ exam objectives. And, though I won’t reveal exactly how (you’ll have to see the course to find out) we’re going to present this in such a way as to improve your employability prospects for any junior to mid-level security administrator position, I will say this: If you want to know what it’s like the first few days on the job as a new security administrator, you’ll actually feel like you are there through this course.

Well, time for me to get back to putting the finishing touches on the material for this course. Stay tuned to this space for more updates as we will be releasing several courses this fall in the areas of IT administration and programming.



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Next Up on the Programming Track: Programming in C#

by Jason - Jul 14, 2017


Greetings, one and all. Every once in a while, I’ll step on a golf course that says, “recommended handicap of 15 or lower for the championship tees.” For you non-golfers, this means that one should have decent skills before taking on the challenge of playing a golf course from a challenging set of tees. Those who aren’t quite there should play from the regular tees, as this will (in theory) make their day more enjoyable.

In some respects, this metaphor applies to our upcoming Programming in C# course, which ties to the Microsoft 70-483 exam, Programming in C#. A lot of what we do for courses is geared toward the MTA certifications, which are terrific for first-level certifications. This course isn’t one of them. This and other MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) courses assume you have some programming experience, or the equivalent therein. Does that mean that if you are brand new to programming, you shouldn’t take this course? Absolutely not. But, you should take the Introduction to Programming course and maybe the Introduction to Programming using Python course (also coming out soon) to get some experience working with a programming language. Oh, by the way, that language I said in the Introduction to Programming course we use that I wouldn’t reveal then? It’s C#. So that course is helpful for C# knowledge as well.

In this Programming in C# course, there are four main topics:

  • Managing Program Flow
  • Creating and Using Types
  • Debugging Applications and Implementing Security
  • Implementing Data Access

Not only do these map to the 70-483 exam, these are topics that are essential for improving your employability prospects in the programming field. You can take what you learn here and apply it to other programming languages as well. So, for those of you who have a little experience and are looking to take your skills to the next level, this will be a good spot for you indeed.

As to whether my golf game is good enough for those signs that tell you what tees to play from, well, my handicap number isn’t for public consumption, but I’ll just say I usually play from the championship tees. I like a good challenge.



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Timing is Everything – A Programming Track Update

by Jason - Jun 29, 2017


A hearty summer greetings to you from your humble senior instructor. I have occasionally brought to you in this blog space some news about our new programming track. Well, it has officially started with last month’s release of the Introduction to Programming course, which is a course that focuses mainly on programming and design concepts.

Now, about the “timing is everything” part. In building this programming track, we were (or at least I was) trying to come up with a way to bridge the Introduction to Programming courses to some of the existing Microsoft MCSA Certifications, which are more geared for those with 1-2 years of experience in programming (or possess equivalent knowledge). And, a great percentage of you looking to explore this programming track are probably new to programming (hence the Intro to Programming course).

All that said, Microsoft is rolling out, over the next few months, four new MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) certifications. They are:

  • Exam 98-381: Introduction to Programming using Python
  • Exam 98-382: Introduction to Programming using JavaScript
  • Exam 98-383: Introduction to Programming using HTML and CSS
  • Exam 98-388: Introduction to Programming using Java

These courses/certifications are the perfect gap between the Introduction to Programming course and the MCSA and other advanced courses we have for our programming track, which we are rolling out over the next several months. And, these courses fit in nicely with our three programming tracks: Web Development, Mobile Development, and General Languages. They mold so well, we even built a road map for you, which you will find a link to at the end of this blog.

Over the next several weeks, I will be posting blog entries for each of the courses in the programming track we are releasing this year.

You see, timing is everything.

Oh, that link: http://www.learnkey.com/careertracks/programming_and_development



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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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