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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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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